Ben Marr
Credit: Patrick Camblin
When he’s kayaking, Ben Marr likes nothing more than being in the middle of a river he hasn’t scouted beforehand and seeing the rapids unfold in front of him. Marr may be only 25, but he’s been paddling without knowing what’s ahead for a long time now. He first went kayaking on the Ottawa River’s class III+ rapids with his father when he was only 12. “My dad knew there was a middle channel and a main channel, but that was it,” says Marr.

The resident of Brockville, Ontario, has since paddled blindly toward smooth horizon lines in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Chile, Norway and all over North America. Along the way, 30-foot drops and boat-eating hydraulics have only whetted his appetite for immersing himself in the unknown.

Every spring, Marr and a handful of other paddlers go on a six-week “stake out” mission in Quebec. They spend half their time hitting reliable runs, and the other half exploring new stretches of river. These recon missions have one underlying purpose for Marr: to find Ginormica. It’s a mythical monster wave that Marr believes is out there, waiting for him to drop in on.

So far Ginormica has escaped detection, but Marr has had plenty of memorable adventures during the search. On a trip to Malaysia two years ago, Marr rode the back of a pickup truck further and further up a mountain road that finally ended in the rubble of a landslide. Marr and his crew took the machetes their drivers loaned them and started hacking through jungle—where Marr had just seen “the ass end of a big black cat disappear”—to reach a river. The next day, four wild elephants watched from shore as Marr paddled a stretch of river that had probably never been run before.

“The only reason I experienced that was because the water took me there,” says Marr. “There is nowhere in the world I might not get to someday.”

This profile is part of our top adventurers feature, The Elite, from our Spring 2012 issue.
Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.