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Minimum Timeline (Read 3260 times)
06/09/12 at 08:05:33
Walt Birmingham   Ex Member

  For first time racers and ground crews who may be trying to plan a strategy, here is a rough timeline of my first race. I hope it will demonsrtate the importance of carefull planning and serious pursuit of your goals.
  Back in the early years the 340 was designed around a 100 hour format which demanded that one complete at least an average of about 75 a day to make the deadline. Which at that time was noon saturday.
  Never having raced a boat before, my son and I entered in 2007 with little idea of what we were getting into. We learned a lot that year.
  Paddling an Old Town recreational canoe, we had a good comfort level but at 65 lbs and 36 inches wide it was a tank. With paddles like the Ozark outfitters all provide as rental equipment they were indestructible but by the time we reached St. Charles they felt as if they weighed about 15 lbs apiece.
  Our first day we made the standard mistake of carrying far too much gear in the boat. We paid dearly for that decision. We made the Lexington CP only about 15 minutes ahead of the cutoff and then promptly wasted more than 30 minutes eating and regrouping with our ground crew.
  Still overloaded, we pushed off and had only made Waverly by about 9:30pm of that first day. I don't remember what the cutoff was but we barely beat it again.
  When we arrived our support had food cooking and sleeping bags laid out. We promptly crashed.
  Day 1: 73 miles.
  About 10 minutes after I laid down I found my sleeping bag was about 30 feet from the Union Pacific tracks and spent the next four hours getting rattled every 30 minutes or so by the next train. By 2am we gave up and launched the boat.
  I have stories to tell about each day of that first race but what I need to show here is what we did wrong. We made the CP at Miami and continued on to an unscheduled stop at the ramp at Dalton. I had been playing on this river all my life. I knew how to read the channel and handle the water but all our training runs had been 20 mile jaunts. Not 100 mile trips. The long distances required were taking a toll on my 52 year old body and I was paying the price. We pushed on to Glasgow where my crew captain had burgers grilling and camp set up. We crashed again.
  Day 2: 68 miles. Not good.
  I don't remember what time we left Glasgow but by dusk on thursday we rolled into the then CP at Cooper's Landing and took a long break again. Doing the math we knew we couldn't quit there and so about 10pm we pushed off for Noren. With Scott's Kaw Warrior escorting us we made the ramp at Jeff City about 4am and crashed again.
  Day 3: 82 miles.
  We shoved off very eary that morning and hammered as hard as we were able. Pulling into Washington about midnight Friday we took a 2 hour nap in a tent that funneled rain right into my sleeping bag. By 2am I gave up on the idea of sleep and we pushed off for the finish line.
  Day 4: 76 miles.
  We finally pulled into St. Charles somewhere around the 96 hour mark on saturday morning. We made the deadline but only by a couple hours.
  So as you are planning your breaks and naps think about this trip of mine.I stopped at Waverly the first night and then couldn't sleep there anyway. That put me behind my goals for the rest of the trip. I stopped too early each day from then on. We made the deadline, but we had 100 hours to do it. In todays race we would have been sitting in Washington when the time elapsed.
  A successful run now requires that you must make it to at least Hill's Island before your first nap. And I seriously doubt that anyone sleeping at Glasgow on day 2 would be able to finish on time. If you make Franklin Island before your second nap you are at the halfway point and stand a chance. Night three in Hermann will leave you with a roughly 70 mile last lap and a seat at the banquet table.
  None of this is written in stone but you can see by my own experience that what was achievable in 2007 is not possible in an 88 hour race.
  Please think this all over if your goal is just to complete the race.
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Reply #1 - 06/09/12 at 12:06:26
Walt Birmingham   Ex Member

A few footnotes to the above post.

We did have an excellent ground crew captained by Bryan Dirks. He was a tremendous help and was always where he needed to be when we needed him.

My employer, Stone Hill Wine Company supplied us with a fifteen passenger van that was a very handy rig for this race. Though we found Bryan had packed literally everything in white trash bags. There was a mountain of them in the back of the van and everything looked alike. Some items were not found again until we unpacked the van after the race.

Decide ahead where you plan to sleep. Waverly, as stated is nearly impossible due to the trains and the distance remaining, but by the time you reach Hermann it will take more than a little frieght train to keep you awake.

Weather can change anyones plans about anything. We were lucky in that we had only one small rough patch of fog and what rain we hit we simply paddled through. But watch the forecasts. And if you have the ability to bank time do it. Mother nature may demand it back on short notice.

If you have a ground crew, don't carry anything extra in your boat. If you don't have a ground crew, analize each item and decide if it's required or needed. Example; in the first race I carried a small pack tent. If I were racing this year I would replace it with a piece of plastic just large enough to roll up in.

« Last Edit: 06/09/12 at 13:41:10 by N/A »  
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Reply #2 - 06/09/12 at 12:08:49
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Walt, as usual, is spot on right.

Where the sun rises on you is the crucial aspect of this race. 

There is little success for those who see the sunrise in Waverly on day 2.  At minimum, you should be to Hills Island.  Even better is Miami.  Nobody has finished who saw the sunrise in Waverly since the 88 hour format.

Morning of Day 3 should find you at least at Franklin Island.  Katfish Katy's is even better.

Morning of Day 4 you'd really better be at Hermann.  Washington is better. 

And when we say sunrise, we mean you are in your boat and moving as soon as the sky is gray and the fog, if any, is gone. 

100 miles a day is a good, easy to remember goal. 

Day 1: Kaw Point to Hills Island.  About 88 miles.

Day 2. Hills Island to Katfish Katy's.  About 99 miles.

Day 3. Katfish Katy's to Hermann.  About 82 miles.

Day 4. Hermann to St. Charles.  About 70 miles.

These are minimums, as Walt says.  This would have someone nervously calculating speed on day 4 to make the cutoff.  A better scenario is this:

Day 1: Kaw Point to Miami.  About 105 miles
Day 2: Miami to Jeff City.  About 118 miles
Day 3: Jeff City to Washington.  About 76 miles.
Day 4: Washington to St. Charles.  About 40 miles.

In this setup, days 1 and 2 are roughly equal, considering you get a late start Tuesday morning out of Kaw Point.  Then you've earned a more relaxed day 3 and 4, but will likely be feeling competitive and looking to finish with the crew you've been pacing with.

I think most veterans would tell you to push as hard as you can on Day 1 before you catch a couple of hours sleep.  Your Day 1 really sets the stage for the kind of finish you'll have.  Then, if a problem waylays you like a storm, fog, equipment, etc.... you're ahead of things and a couple of hours delay is not a deal breaker. 

We call this "banking some time." and it's a very good strategy.

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