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2012 Dispatches (Read 9928 times)
06/12/12 at 22:39:55
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

****NOTE**** Rules and conditions of the race change year to year.  These were the dispatches from 2012.  2013 will have different rules regarding the tracking of unsupported racers.

Missouri American Water MR340 Dispatch #3 

The date approaches.

Let's talk nuts and bolts first.

Are you on the roster?  Look here:


Find your name.  Make sure everything looks good.  If you're a tandem or team... do you still have a TBD on your boat?  Time to get things sewed up.

Also, if you've elected to go unsupported and use a SPOT Tracker, you need to either rent or buy one and get it registered here:


If you're looking to rent one, we've got a deal with Trackleaders where they will ship them to us to hand out at the safety meeting and we'll collect it back from you at the finish line.  The rentals are available here:


More nuts and bolts...

Mandatory registration and safety meeting:

The race starts Tuesday, the morning of July 31st, BUT every paddler must attend the meeting the evening before at the Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue  Kansas City, KS 66101.  Every paddler must attend the meeting from 7-8pm.  Also, you must sign in and pick up your packet and tshirt prior to that between 2pm and 6pm.  The lines will likely be long so get there early to grab your stuff, save yourself a seat in the ballroom, go down to Kaw Point and stage your boat, grab dinner back at the hotel and make an afternoon of it.  The safety meeting is a fun part of the event.  There's lots of energy there and it's a great time to get some last minute questions answered.

Safety Meeting is Monday, July 30th.  Everyone must attend.

Again, we are going to have security the night before the race at Kaw Point.  In the past, racers have staged their boats along the trail at Kaw Point to make the morning easier.  Do NOT leave expensive paddles or electronics in the boat.   This is at your own risk.  We will have people there to watch over stuff but it's a public park. 

Race Morning: 

This is about 140 more boats than we've ever had so we anticipate it being very crowded on Tuesday morning at Kaw Point.  There will be two starts.  The 7am start is for all solo boats.  This will be approximately 200 canoes and kayaks.  We will have 3-4 launch zones active.  You will have to start getting in the water well before 7am for all 200 boats to launch in time.  Plan accordingly.  There are usually sandbars on the opposite shore for you to paddle over and beach to wait.  There will most certainly be solos still waiting in line when the gun goes at 7am.  That's ok.  You'll get in and paddle out as quickly as you can.

The multi-person boats can start putting in at any time.  We may have a few launch zones dedicated solely to the 7am start up until the 7am gun, but there will be other zones that are first come, first serve.  With the water down (so far) this year there will be more real estate for launching creatively. 

8am gun will also go off on time, regardless of how many boats are still trying to launch.

The most technical portion of this race is the first 3 miles.  It involves the transition from the slack water of the Kaw River into the fast water of the Missouri, followed by a series of closely placed bridges through downtown KC.  When I say this is the most technical portion of the race, that doesn't mean it's difficult.  It just means that the remaining 337 miles are very boring in comparison. 

The confluence of the Kaw and Missouri is tricky only because there will be so many boats crowding each other there.  As the boats hit the fast water, the current pushes them downstream and then there are collisions and paddles knocking together and folks lean into a stroke that misses the water and we have boats flipping, etc.  Please note that the mouth of the Kaw is quite spacious and there is plenty of room for boats to make this transition without a pileup.  We can't have 200 boats try for the same line.  If you want to avoid the cluster, choose a more upstream entrance where there will be less people.  Or, let the madness happen ahead of you and then proceed as the way opens.  It's not a difficult transition.  Just keep some speed up and don't be hesitant.  You want to minimize the time that half your boat is in the Missouri and the other half is still in the Kaw.  This is where you end up with a boat getting pointed the wrong way, etc.  But if you go at it with some moderate speed, your boat will behave and you'll be moving down the Missouri without a hitch.

Under the bridges we ask that boats steer clear of the bridge piers as they tend to hurt if you hit them.  Give each other room to maneuver.  The swift water rescue teams from Kansas City will be under these bridge to assist if there is a need. 

Checking in at checkpoints will be handled two ways.  If you are unsupported with a Spot Tracker, the check in should automatically be recorded in our system.  You don't have to do anything except make sure your spot tracker is on and is set up appropriately.  All unsupported boats MUST check in manually with volunteers at Lexington and Jeff City.  This is to verify that your Spot is working.  They will have a list of malfunctioning Spots and if you're boat is not on that list, you're good to go.  If it is, you have to stay and trouble shoot. 

If you are supported, your ground crew must text you in at each checkpoint.  The phone number will be given at the safety meeting.  The system is really slick and allows for easy two-way communication between your ground crew and race staff.  Your crew simply texts your boat number, the checkpoint, the time and the planned departure.  Like this:

#1234, Miami, 230am, plans to sleep an hour and leave.


#1234, Glasgow, 1022am, in and out.


#1234, Katfish Katy's, 530pm, dropping out.

It is not essential we have the exact "out" time from a checkpoint.  The purpose of "out" time is to know when we should expect a paddler at the next checkpoint.  This was useful for unsupported paddlers in past years.  It is not an issue with supported paddlers because their team knows, better than anyone, when they should be expected.  And their team can alert us if they feel the boat is inordinately late. 

When we close out a checkpoint, we check to see that each paddler is accounted for.  If there are gaps, (missing boat) we have the following protocol.

Supported Paddler:
1. Call ground crew at the number where texts have originated.

This solves almost all issues.  Because unless the ground crew is standing there with us at the closing checkpoint, wondering where the paddler is, we can assume that they've either dropped out or forgot to text them through.  If they are standing there wondering where you are, we begin a search upstream.

It's possible that the boat is actually downstream and THOUGHT their ground crew saw them and THOUGHT they were texted through.  This has happened in previous years with fly-by check through.  It is essential that you make visual and verbal contact with your ground crew so that they know you are clearing a checkpoint.  It is not enough to wave from across the river and assume they see you.  This is your most important job out there.

Unsupported Paddler:
1. Review last known Spot location.
2. Call their cell phone.
3. Alert safety boats in vicinity with boat color and number.

In most instances, this will be a boat with a spot tracker that has stopped working.  We request that each unsupported boat check that their device is working at each checkpoint.  If it has stopped working, fire up your cell phone and text in.

In an ideal scenario, every boat would have a ground crew.  Most ultra marathons now require a ground crew AND a spot tracker.  We are requiring one or the other.  But of the two, we prefer a ground crew.  Nobody else out there will have a better idea of your approximate location, your ETA and your condition.  A good ground crew will keep an eye on your well-being.  Are you eating, are you drinking, are you making good decisions.  There is still time to find yourself a ground crew.  It's a tough job, but immensely enjoyable.  They will have at least as much fun as you will.  Try your best to get a ground crew for the race.

Keeping a good pace:

There are cutoff times for each checkpoint.  They are as follows:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, July 31st.   
Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 5pm Tuesday   Leg avg.  5.56mph  Total avg. 5.56   
Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75mph  Total avg. 5.62   
Miami, mile 262, (32 miles)  11am Wed.   Leg avg. 2.29mph  Total avg. 3.89   
Glasgow, mile 226, (36 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15   
Katfish Katy's, mile 180, (46 miles) noon Thurs.  2.56mph  Total avg. 3.60   
Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (36 miles) 7pm Thurs.  5.14mph  Total avg. 3.78    
Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 10am Friday  3.07mph  Total avg. 3.64   
Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 6pm Friday  5.25 mph  Total avg. 3.79   
St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  Midnight   4.50mph  Total avg. 3.85 mph 

These have been in place for a couple of years and have served us well.  There are always boats that don't make cutoff times.  We have no choice but to disqualify a boat that has failed to meet a cutoff time.  We are obligated to keep as tight a halo of safety around the boats as we can.  The purpose of the cutoff times is to prevent straggling boats from stretching that halo to a point of ineffectiveness.  The cutoff times are manageable if you are staying in your boat and being efficient with your time.  A good thread on the forum talks about some strategies here:


The majority of boats will have no trouble with the cutoff times.  Others will flirt with the cutoff at each checkpoint.  This is part of the race and part of your training and planning process.  The clock is on you and it will not be your friend.  You can and should "bank" up some time early in the race so that you can weather a storm, fog, sleep, etc and still have time to make a checkpoint.  If you are constantly living on the edge of disqualification, a simple stiff headwind can end your race by slowing you down for 5-6 miles.  It's a terrible way to go out, but it happens.

Personal Flotation Devices:

Every paddler in this event must have on at all times a personal flotation device.  This is required by the United States Coast Guard and the Missouri Water Patrol.  Failure to do so is a disqualification.  Fanny pack or belt style PFDs are allowed.

Navigation Lighting:

You gotta have nav lights.  Red and green bow lights and a white stern.  KC Paddler has some sweet LED lights that have been used for years in this race and they work great.  Turn them on night one and forget them.  They burn 100 hours.  Other lights can be improvised.  Make sure they are water proof and durable.  It is not ok to paddle at night without lights.  This is against the rules of the race.  This is sometimes a strategy in other ultra canoe races.  But it is ILLEGAL in the MR340 due to the fact the this is a navigable waterway from start to finish and all boats navigating at night MUST be lit up.  No excuses. 

Your dispatches will be coming pretty frequently now.  Let me know what questions you have and I'll get them answered here so that others can learn as well.  The forum is a GREAT way to learn from the experiences of others.  Please spend some time there reading and asking.  www.rivermiles.com/forum

More to come soon.

« Last Edit: 01/04/13 at 09:09:36 by N/A »  
IP Logged
Reply #1 - 06/23/12 at 10:05:30
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #4

The many threads that make up a good 340 are starting to come together pretty well at our end.  We hope the same for you and yours as you prepare for the challenge.

For those new to the roster, a brief run down of events and times.

7/30/12 Mandatory sign in and safety meeting at the Kansas City, Kansas Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota.
Sign in and packet pickup from 2pm to 6pm.  Meeting from 7-8pm.

7/31/12  Race begins, Kaw Point Park, Kansas City, KS  All solo boats start at 7am.  All other boats start at 8am.  Roughly 200 boats in each group.

8/3/12  Race officially ends at midnight.  7pm there will be an awards ceremony.  Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center, St. Charles, MO

Lots more information at www.rivermiles.com/forum

On to new business.

Reminding all boats that you must have your boat numbers affixed to both sides of your bow before Tuesday morning.  This is something you can be working on right now if you haven't done it already.  Your numbers should be at least 3 inches high and reflective.  (like mailbox numbers or boat hull numbers)  Be sure they match the numbers you have chosen on the roster.

All unsupported boats must have a functioning Spot Tracker WITH the Track Me subscription so that we may know where you are at all times.  If you have a spot tracker, please register it at http://www.kattack.com/SPOTTracking/AboutSPOTandKattack/tabid/259/Default.aspx

OR, you can rent a spot tracker from trackleaders.com  They have committed 50 units to the race.  So far, 22 have been rented.  These can be found at store.rivermiles.com  If you rent one, you'll receive it at the safety meeting, already set up for the race.  You just follow the on/off instructions and turn it in at the finish line.

All boats must carry a fully charged cell phone and a spare battery.  These must be in a waterproof case aboard your boat or on your person.

Checkpoint procedures, again:

Boats with ground crews must be texted through by the ground crew upon visual confirmation at each checkpoint.  This has been addressed in previous dispatches and will be covered in detail at the meeting.  Boats must be texted in to race HQ at each of the 8 checkpoints.

Boats WITHOUT ground crews will be monitored remotely via their spot trackers.  However, we know there will be glitches with the spot units.  With about 120 unsupported boats, we have to have a system in place for spot failure.  So here it is.  All unsupported boats MUST stop in Lexington (Checkpoint 1) where we will have a list of boats that are not tracking properly.  If you are not on the naughty list, you can move along.  If your are on the list, we will help get your unit operating properly.

Going forward from there we require all unsupported boats to power up their cell phones at 7am and again at 7pm, every day of the race.  Leave your phone on long enough to get a signal and see if you have any text messages from us indicating a problem with your unit.  If you have no text message, all is well.  If you have a message, it will have instructions on what to do.  Feel free to have your phone on more often than those two times.  But this is a minimum so that we can make contact with you if needed.  It's a good idea to check your phone at any checkpoint where you've stopped to take on supplies or rest.  Also, be sure to monitor your battery life.  You should bring along a car charger so that you can grab a charge from a volunteer, a safety boat or a friendly ground crew.  You must be sure your phone functions.

In summary:
Supported boats:
No stops required.  Ground crew must text in time through each of 8 checkpoints.

Unsupported boats:
All must carry Spot Trackers with Track me subscription.  These must be restarted every 24 hours to function properly.
All must stop at Lexington for Spot verification.
All must power up cell phones at 7am and 7pm each day MINIMUM to check for text messages from race officials.
All must keep their cell phone charged and in working order.

As you can see, life is very simple with a ground crew.  Keep trying to get one!  Odds of finishing the race go way, way up.

Roster Business:

Find yourself on the roster here:

Make sure your entry has a boat number.  If it says, "needs to choose new number" it means you selected a number that was already taken and we need a new one.  Contact me.

If it says "TBD" it means your partner hasn't signed up yet.  There are 15 boats right now that need to finish registering.  Time is running out.

The race is NOT sold out.  We have room for about 40 boats.  If you know someone interested, direct them to www.rivermiles.com to sign up.  We have 403 boats currently on the roster but traditionally 15% do not show up.  Several have already dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.  Per the registration agreement, the deadline for a partial refund was May 15th.  There is no refund at this point.  This race raises funds for 3 non-profit groups.  Missouri River Relief, Lewis and Clark Nature Center and the Healthy Rivers Partnership.  Over $10,000 will be raised for these groups.  If you have to drop out, you are still helping 3 great causes along the Missouri River.

For those that are planning to attend, GET READY.  It's shaping up to be a fantastic 7th running of the MR340.  The water is right where it should be this time of year.  The river is full of sandbars!  Like it should be!  It's beautiful at this stage and much safer with more places to stop and rest and more wing dams exposed to clarify where the channel is.  And with 400 boats the race will be relentless.  You'll always have a competitor right behind you.  And one up ahead to chase down.  The towns along the way are really excited to host you.  Be sure to sample the food tents and hospitality along the way.  And St. Charles will be a party!  The finish beach will be the place to hang out and tell stories and watch boats come in all night and day.  And get this; the Lewis and Clark Nature Center got a beer license this year.  So you won't have to walk 3 blocks for a beer!  Just grab one and have a seat around the fire and enjoy.

Next dispatch we're going to talk about strategies and common mistakes.  That should land in your mailbox tomorrow!

IP Logged
Reply #2 - 06/28/12 at 13:49:33
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Missouri American Water MR340 Dispatch #5

If you've missed previous dispatches, you can find the important ones archived here on the forum:


Some race stats!

406 boats currently signed up.

269 with ground crew.
127 unsupported.

About 575 racers.  Estimated 350 ground crew participants.  A whole slew of volunteers on land and on water.  Figure on over 1000 people all with one goal.

Find Kaw Point.

AND another goal.  Make it to St. Charles.

To that end, we'd like to dedicate tonight's dispatch to helping you make it to St. Charles.  To not only finish but to finish well.

Remember, there is no magical formula for finishing the MR340.  It has been finished by every imaginable definition of "athlete."  But there are many, many little mistakes that can conspire to have you home early.  Here are a few.

1. Manage Your Temperature.

Summer is hot in Missouri.  Lately, it's been hotter than ever.  If you aren't used to working or exercising in the heat, Day 1 is going to shock you.  And then wither you.  Here are some strategies.

Stay properly hydrated.  Drinking can cool you from the inside out.  And it's essential to keeping your body's cooling system functioning properly.  Choose drinks that you've trained with before.  Remember, OVER hydration can kill you.  You must balance liquid intake with electrolytes like salty foods or Gatorade in order to maintain a balance.  Watch for warning signs like lethargy, headache, difficulty performing simple tasks, etc.

Stay wet.  You will be surrounded by water that is likely 15-20 degrees cooler than the air.  Keep your head wet.  Keep your shirt wet.  Let evaporative cooling work for you.  You can stop in a safe, shallow spot with no current and sit in the water.  Your body will cool quickly and you'll be amazed at the change.

Stay protected.  Use sunscreen.  A nasty sunburn on day 1 can doom your whole race.

2. Eat!

You have to eat a lot of food to finish the 340.  More calories than you need sitting at work reading emails from me.  Understanding how your body uses food as fuel will help you finish the race.  Your body is not unlike a campfire.  It needs fuel.  If it runs low, it will go out.  But if you pile too much on at once, it might also go out.  The key is to have a steady flow of fuel into the fire.  One mistake we often see is someone show up to the race with lots of power bar type food that they would normally never eat.  Then they start eating it and it's great for a few hours... and then it starts to taste bad to them.  They start to feel sick because they've eaten too many and their body doesn't know what to do with it.  Then they stop eating all together.  Then they run low on energy and electrolytes.  Almost impossible to bounce back from that.

A better strategy is to pack food that you are used to eating while training.  And to eat well at the checkpoints either via your ground crew or the different food tents that the locals put up.  A burger slathered in mustard and pickles might be just what your body needs in Lexington.  Or a milkshake.  Or a salad.  Or a cantaloupe.  Whatever your craving, have your ground crew get it and hand it to you.  Your body is telling you what it wants.  Rare is the person who craves that 6th power bar.

3. Keep Good Company

We've preached the "don't paddle alone" sermon a few times.  It's a very good strategy.  You will naturally go faster in a group.  First of all, you can take turns drafting off each other.  If you don't know what this means, visit youtube and watch videos on canoe or kayak drafting.  Secondly, and maybe more importantly, there's a psychological boost from paddling with a group.  This is especially useful at night when you might otherwise be tired.  A good group can keep you motivated and alert.  Many great stories of the 340 have to do with someone wanting to give up and then a group coming along and changing everything.  "...and the last 150 miles just flew by and I had an amazing time..."  A common refrain.

4. Don't Over Pack.

You will anyway, but maybe reading this will cut it by 10% or so.  You gotta remember, the laws of physics are not suspended just because you're in a boat on the water.  There is still an energy premium to be paid for every OUNCE you pick up and carry to St. Charles.  If you have a ground crew, there is really no excuse for over packing.  Travel as light as possible, checkpoint to checkpoint.  Minimal gear, food and fluids.  Just enough to get you there.  How much is just enough?  I have no idea.  Everyone is different.  But hopefully in your training you are learning what you need.

5. Don't sit on the ramp.

Stay in the boat.  Don't eat or drink sitting on the boat ramp.  Do whatever you can do IN THE BOAT.  This is one of the most common regrets from finishers who review their race and discuss it on the forum later.  "I spent way too much time on land."  They add it all up and realize they could have easily cut 5-6 hours of shore time out.

Treat terra firma as if it's hot lava.  Get in and get out as quickly as possible.  It's an incredible waste of time to sit in a chair and eat a sandwich when you could be sitting in your boat and eating while moving downstream.  There's no rule that says you have to paddle the whole time you're in the boat.  You can sit and rest.  Sit and eat.  Talk on the phone.  I've heard of tandem canoes where one guy is making coffee while the other guy keeps the boat headed in the right direction.  Some tandems rig their boat so one guy can catch a nap while the other paddles.  Everyone should be making sure their boat and clothing are as comfortable as possible so that staying in the boat is not torturous.  Have a sense of urgency at a boat ramp with clear goals to accomplish quickly and efficiently before getting back on the conveyor belt to St. Charles.

6. Force A Smile.

Be positive as much as possible.  If your self talk consists mainly of "My butt hurts it's hot out here I want to go home this sucks" then you can bet money, you will not finish.  Instead, find the things that are going well and put them in your soundtrack.

"I'm 20 minutes ahead of schedule."
"My boat is doing everything I ask of it"
"That cold Mountain Dew behind my seat is going to taste great when I drink it"
"I just passed 20 boats that were sitting at that last checkpoint"
"My ground crew rocks"
"That moon is beautiful"
"I smell bad, but not as bad as THAT guy."
"My flashlight is way better than hers."
"I'm lucky to be healthy enough to do stuff like this"


It may sound trite, but it makes a difference.  Remind yourself why you signed up and what it will feel like to paddle those last 10 strokes to the finish line.

More to come soon.  Keep preparing and keep sending me questions.  Also, the forum is really lighting up with good information and advice.  Don't miss out.  www.rivermiles.com/forum

IP Logged
Reply #3 - 07/15/12 at 22:53:13
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Welcome to the Two-Week Dispatch.  That means we'll be sitting in the safety meeting in just TWO WEEKS!

It's crunch time.

First order of business,,, we have a very short 4 question form you to complete.  This form will ask for your boat type and boat color.  Like, kayak/blue or canoe/aluminum  That simple.

The purpose is this:  We sometimes get calls to our safety boats to find a certain paddler for any number of reasons.  So, we go hunting.  Everyone has a boat number and we start looking at boat numbers.  But to see a boat number we have to get fairly close to every boat.  And to get close to a boat we have to slow way down to minimize wake.  But if we know that we're looking for a red surfski, we eliminate 98% of the boats and zero in on the first red surfski we see.

We were going to collect this information at the safety meeting.  But if you take care of yours now, it will really speed things up.  Here's the link.  Literally takes 20 seconds to complete.  If you're on a multi-person boat, everyone that signed up will get one.  That's fine.  Everyone can fill it out.  It will be fun to see if you all think your boat is the same color.

Here's the form:

Next order of business: Required Gear

You must have the following aboard your boat:

PFD (must be worn at all times)
Whistle (for signalling)
Space blanket
Enough food/water to make next checkpoint
Cell phone in waterproof case and spare charged battery.
Spot Tracker if unsupported
10 feet of rope.
Full navigation lighting.
Reflective tape on your boat. (most production boats have this. More never hurts)
Spare paddle. (multi-person boats need only one per boat)
4 digit boat number in reflective 3" minimum material. (mailbox numbers or motorboat numbers, reflective please) Must appear on both sides of boat.

There are many other items you might need.  These are bare minimum for safety.

Next order of business: Schedule of events...

July 30th:


Kaw Point will be staffed with security by 1pm.  You can, at your own risk, leave your boat there overnight.  There is a trail through the woods to the Point near the boat ramp.  Traditionally, they've been left in neat rows along this trail.  This saves you time in the morning.  Do not leave expensive electronics and paddles there.  Just the hulls.  Everything else you can rig in the morning.  We'll have guys there to watch that they don't leave.  No good reason why a boat would leave the area once it's been dropped off.  That's the essential duty that they are tasked with.  We've never had any problems.

Mandatory sign in/packet pickup.  Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, KS
500 paddlers going through this process.  Very important that we all don't try to do it at 545pm.  If you are staying at the hotel, please try to come down and get it done at 2pm.  We'll get the rest as they trickle in.  The hotel usually serves a pretty good pasta buffet for racers in the same area as packet pickup so you can come hungry.  It's pretty reasonably priced if I remember correctly.  This usually starts around 5pm.  There's also a restaurant upstairs that's a little fancier and has a bar.

Mandatory safety meeting.  Some introductions, some slides, some dos, some don'ts, some questions, some answers.  We try to keep it to an hour and we are often done faster than that.  I hang around after for some more questions.

Try to sleep.

Stuff starts happening at Kaw Point.  There will be news trucks, music blaring, boats being rigged and lots of nervous energy.  We have about 206 boats to launch for the solo start at 7am.  We will start regardless of how many have actually made it into the water.  If you want to be on the water for the gun, you'll have to plan accordingly.  Multi person boats may also launch for their 8am start at any time.

All solos start.  Multis continue to launch.

All multi boats start.

8am Tuesday - 7pm Friday:
Glory shall be earned.

7pm Friday:
Awards Ceremony at the finish line.  Medals for all finishers.  Trophies for 1st-3rd, all divisions.

Other stuff going on:
The finish line area will be hopping starting late Wednesday night when the first boats will land after 38-40 hours.  For our finish line hosts, the Lewis and Clark folks, this is their biggest fundraiser of the year.  Every racer who finishes gets to eat for free. (entree, two sides and a cold beer or pop) Everyone else makes a donation to their museum and historic boathouse.  The meals will start Thursday afternoon, I believe.  They encourage everyone to eat their free meal as soon as they can and not wait until just before the awards as they will have trouble meeting demand.  The beer will flow all day Thursday and Friday and even during the awards ceremony.  This is the first year they've had beer for us. 

You'll also note that many other non-profit groups like boy scouts and churches will be offering food and drink at the various checkpoints.  We are not directly affiliated with them but we support their effort as it helps the ground crews and paddlers.  The food can actually be pretty good and they keep outdoing themselves year after year.  Hermann and Miami especially have some pretty elaborate food service going on.

We currently have 385 boats on the roster, down from about 418 or so.  This is a typical attrition that occurs every year as folks realize they aren't going to be able to make it to the race.  We suspect another 10% or so will not show up and that we'll have around 340-350 boats.  Even at those numbers it's significantly larger than any previous MR340.  There will be BIG crowds at the checkpoints.  Ground crews will end up having to walk a fair distance in some cases to get to the boat ramps.  Bring some sort of wheeled cooler or dolly so that you can take what you need from your car to the ramp.  Expect big crowds at Lexington, Waverly and Miami.  After those 3, we tend to be spread out a bit and things get easier.

Tracking racers:
We have two methods.  Ground crews will be given some simple instructions at the safety meeting on how to text their racers through.  Do not stress over this.  It's really quite easy and almost fool-proof in that we can give your ground crew feedback via their phone if we have any questions.  This should be your primary method for supported racers.  Some supported racers have both ground crew and spot trackers.  That's awesome.  We prefer that your ground crew still text you in at each location as this gives us more exact split times.  If they miss one due to getting lost or oversleeping you should text yourself in or get another ground crew to do it.  The spot tracker is a last option for supported racers.

Unsupported racers MUST have spot tracker and must successfully register them at www.kattack.com so that we can track you.  You must be sure to reboot your Spot at sunrise and sunset to assure it's tracking properly.  We also ask that you power up your cell phone at sunrise and sunset to see if we have texted you a message regarding your spot tracker. 

Safety boats will be on station at each checkpoint.  They will all be flying flags that ID them as such.  Don't hesitate to ask them for help if you have any questions about procedures.  If they don't know an answer, they will refer you to a race official via telephone.

Good thread on the forum about mistakes racers make:

(short version: get past Waverly night one and Glasgow night two and you will likely finish.)

Thanks, guys and gals.  Keep your questions coming and we'll keep answering them. 

See you in two weeks!

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