Traci Martin: Traveling the Great Lakes and Beyond with RA

Documentary Associates

“When I’m out on the water, and something unexpected happens that could be life threatening...instead of panicking, I just get really focused.”

Traci Martin is living proof that humble beginnings don't determine one's chances of a grand destiny. Hailing from Kansas City, now a competitive kayaker, Traci is attempting to become the first person to set a new world record distance for kayaking–some 8,600 miles throughout North American waterways. across North America. Her journey will be one of great challenge, great growth, and great reflection, especially health-wise. In 2010 at age 42, Traci was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

In our brand new Live BOLD, Live NOW Journey, you'll be able to watch Traci’s empowering story of family, inner strength, and overcoming adversity with rheumatoid arthritis. You’ll get a look into what it took to gain support from her family; the hours spent training indoors and outdoors for an endurance event; and listen in on Traci’s inner conversations in the few weeks before embarking on her trip. As she sets out on the waters, one of Traci’s biggest challenges is not the elements or her RA, but herself:

“I know there are days I’m going to wake up and I’m going to hurt. But do you let that stop you? That’s the question.”

tracy map 1.PNG

Credit: Traci Martin (

The route

According to the Guinness Books of World Records, the record for longest solo journey on canoe or kayak stands at 3,462.89 miles (5,573 kilometres), completed by Marcin Gienieczko of Poland from Peru to Brazil in 2015. Unofficially, Freya Hoffmeister of Germany, is known for completing the longest solo trip, paddling 8,500 miles circumnavigating Australia in 2005. She completed the trip in just 322 days.

On her own 10-month expedition, Traci plans to embark from Port Huron on March 9th, 2017, paddling along the Saint Lawrence Seaway.** Along her route she’ll paddle through:**

  • The 5 Great Lakes
  • 2 countries
  • Canadian Provinces

Endurance competition kayaking, a sport of high impact and repeated fluid movements, may seem unlikely for someone living with RA, an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the joints. But instead of holding her back, Traci’s health has empowered her to seize chances and adventures in life, knowing that there may come a day she won’t be able to.

“The very first race that I did I took first place in women's solo and I kind of caught the bug... I’m strong, and I’m not afraid to get out there and push myself to the limit. A lot of things your brain will say you can’t do this because your brain is trying to protect you. But you can do so much more than what your brain tells you you can do physically.”

Traci Martin Race Map

Credit: Traci Martin (Race Owl)

Here for you, along the way.

We at HealthCentral are committed to sharing health stories from people from all walks -and paddles- of life. We aim to be a trusted leader in providing useful patient information from diverse perspectives, real challenges faced by people living with chronic conditions, and of course, inspiring victories in overcoming those challenges.

During Traci’s route, we’ll be sharing updates on her milestones, as well as stories from teammates who have helped her during training. We’ll also provide new and reliable RA content so viewers like you can get out and start a journey of your own. There will be plenty of opportunities to connect with Traci and other RA experts along the way, so make sure to like our HealthCentral RA Facebook Page and join our Rheumatoid Arthritis Newsletter.

Want to see Traci’s full story? Follow the link to Traci’s Journey, and be sure to check back to for live updates.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to inclement weather at the beginning of her journey, Traci had to suspend travel for safety for two weeks. She has since adjusted her route and is back on the water. This post has been updated to reflect changes in her travels.