Sporting Obscurity: In The Pumpkin

The crash of the paddle cutting into the water sends shockwaves of reverberation around him. Little drops of water explode and scatter onto the large gourd in a natural and satisfying pattern. Echoes of cheers and laughter surround the competitors as they flail aimlessly into success. Also someone is dressed as Ant Man while riding a giant ant. This is the sport of Giant Pumpkin Kayaking, where competitors grow giant pumpkins, carve them out, and climb inside in the hopes that the orange fruit will float them to the finish line.

The sport originated in Windsor, Nova Scotia on Lake Pemaquid, where local giant pumpkin enthusiasts decided to  gather together to squat on their squashes on the cold canadian water. Little is known about the details of the origin, other than the credit of its conception goes to Danny Dill, the son of expert giant pumpkin grower, Howard Dill. There aren’t any other rules other than the pumpkin  must weigh between 600-800 pounds after being carved out, and it must be able to float. The races are usually 800 meter races, however, some chose to race in 100 meter, and 600 meter races.

The sport has spread gradually, with multiple Giant Pumpkin Kayaking races occurring in mostly small towns across the United States and Canada. Each town has a different iteration and interpretation to it, some dress in quirky costumes and others spray each other with squirt guns while kayaking. The sport’s peculiarity and popularity  has even attracted celebrity participants, such as Martha Stewart, and a lot of media attention. The large cable news channels ran stories on it, treating it as another “meme” sport. However, purists of the sport remain dedicated  and aim to break as many world records as possible.

Twenty Seven year old Dmitri Galitzine broke the world record in 2013 for the 100 meter Giant Pumpkin Kayaking race with a time of two minutes and two seconds, a time so ground breaking, no one has been able to beat it since. “I have always been fascinated by vegetables” said Galitzine. “When I found out they could float, it seemed to make perfect sense.”

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