Walks of Life: Alex Linnell

The first man to standup paddle the entire Mississippi River shares his view.

Alex Linnell
Paddleboarder, Alex Linnell, owner of The Black Oar SUP/Surf & Water Sports Supply Shop

Riding high: “At my grandpa’s cabin, my dad introduced me to a sport called standup paddleboarding. Anytime it wasn’t windy, I’d cruise on the windsurf board with the old oar paddle.”

The competition: “In California, there’s an event called Battle of the Paddle where 400 or 500 people come out to compete [in the Open Race]. It’s the Super Bowl of paddleboard racing.”

Long journey: “When I started the Mississippi trip, I was still paddling my old windsurf board around because I couldn’t afford an expensive paddleboard. It was a physical and a mental battle to push through. I was paddling in 100-plus-degree weather for eight to 10 hours a day—that got pretty grueling.”

Setting up shop: “We opened April 1 and we are the only shop located on the water in Spring Park. We really emphasize try before you buy. I have a demo for every single board design we sell.”