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*2017* Official Dispatches *2017* (Read 38660 times)
05/09/17 at 21:46:53
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

2017 Dispatch #1

Welcome to the 12th Annual Missouri American Water MR340

These dispatches will help you prepare for the MR340. 

For this first dispatch, we focus on the nuts and bolts. 

DATES: August 7th-August 11th, 2017

Mandatory Check In and Safety Meeting:

Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas
Monday, August 7th, 2017
All racers must sign in between 2-6pm and pick up tshirts, etc.  Meeting starts at 7pm and is over by 8pm.  We call it the Mandatory Safety Meeting because attendance is MANDATORY.  It's part of our safety plan with the United States Coast Guard to conduct the training and to account for you being there.  So just be there.  It's actually quite fun to see all the paddlers and ground crews assembled in one place.  It's a huge group of over 1000 anxious, excited people.  We will go through some last minute instructions and review many safety bullet points.  But most of it you will have read in the series of dispatches and other online resources.

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
Kaw Point Park
Solo Start is 7am
Everything else, 8am

Parking the morning of the race is always quite crowded.  Many will have to hunt for parking outside the flood wall in the industrial park.  For this reason, it is best to stage your boat the night before. (Monday)  As usual, we will have security at the park starting Monday at noon.  You can leave your boat staged there anytime after noon and we will have folks there to watch over things.   You are ultimately responsible for the boat.  Our guys will have a roster and boat numbers and would question anyone they saw removing a boat from the premises.  They cannot prevent your boat from being damaged by someone running over it, sitting on it, tripping over it, etc.  Please don't leave paddles or any expensive items that can be walked away with. 

The meeting is at the hotel less than a mile away from the starting line.  You will get lost 4 times trying to get back and forth.  By the 5th time you'll have it figured out. 

Check the Roster:


Make sure your entry is correct.  Some of you need to choose a new boat number because the one you originally chose was taken.  I know this is disappointing.  Every year the classics like 8008 get snatched up early leaving only 9,999 other possible combinations to choose from.  If you need a new boat number, email it directly to me, scott@rivermiles.com

Your boat number must be a minimum of 3 inches high and be reflective.  Mailbox numbers work great for this.  Place these on your port and starboard bow.

Also, many of the tandem and team boats still need to get their partners registered.  Please get this taken care of asap.  We are trying to get shirt sizes, etc. finalized.  Also, it will help you assess the commitment level of your partner.  We've found that the longer a partner is TBD, the more likely he or she is of NOT racing and leaving you high and literally dry come race day.  Please get your partner registered by June 1st.

Training and Preparation Resources

MR340 Book!

Written by a veteran and can be either ordered in hard copy or electronic version.  This book will be a comfort and will help shorten your learning curve.  Preview pages below.


Chris Luedke's Training Videos

Wow, what can I say.  Chris is a multi year veteran with some great finishes under his belt.  His video series is crazy good.  Entertaining and very informative.  This will literally shave hours off a first timers finish time.  And also minimize a lot of anxiety.

Once you get started on these it will be hard to stop.  There are dozens of them in easy to digest sizes.  A good place to start might be here with the one about the Kaw Point starting line.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usdNJPGIYhc&list=PLzoUC3XH8qEW1XgcPcGmrvB7USj6Ir...

Again, these are top notch and will go a long way towards getting you ready for the race.  They've made my job of writing the dispatches very easy.  A video is worth much more than a 1000 words.  Thanks again, Chris Luedke!!!

Training Races

Once you've read the book and watched the videos, why not test what you've learned with some real live racing on the great rivers of Missouri?  It's the best way to test your boat, your nutrition and your racing strategy.  And maybe most importantly, your seat cushions.  Here's a calendar of upcoming races:


Next dispatch will highlight some of the Luedke videos that deal with race strategy, navigation and safety boats.  So do your homework and catch up on your reading and watching.  And check out some of the races coming up as quickly as THIS WEEKEND.

Let me know if you have any questions.


« Last Edit: 11/07/22 at 09:15:33 by N/A »  
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Reply #1 - 05/30/17 at 15:40:24
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

2017 MR340 Dispatch #2

Hopefully you've had the opportunity to do some paddling and racing during this early season.  The combination of fast water and moderate temperatures makes for some of the best paddling all year.   There are many races on the calendar to help you get your boat and technique dialed in before the MR340 meat grinder starts August 8th.  Check the calendar below and sign up.


Hopefully you've also had a chance to watch some of the Chris Luedke videos.   In dispatch 1 we mentioned his video on the start of the race and leaving Kaw Point.  This is always a highlight experience.  All your preparation and anticipation culminates in that countdown from the crowd and then the gun goes off. 

Because of the size of the field and the high number of bridges in the first 5 miles of the race we have two starts.  7am for solos and 8am for everything else.  The Kansas City Fire Department has boats in the water just in case there are some capsizes around the bridges.  As Chris points out in the video, there are often capsizes in the mixing zone of the Kaw and Missouri Rivers.  The fire department sorts these out as well. 

Once you're through the enjoyable chaos of the start and you've ticked a few bridges off your list the pack sort of settles into a long conga line of boats.  Folks are getting their rhythm and are passing boats or getting passed.  Your goal during this opening hour or two should be to find that stroke rate and speed that is sustainable for DAYS.  You've hopefully already done this through training and racing in the months prior.  If so, you know there is a sweet spot for you and your boat where the miles come easy without a lot of wasted energy. 

A quiet ride is an efficient ride. 

Every hull is different but a good way to tell your boat is in the efficient zone is if it is quietly gliding over and through the water.  If you hear a bunch of water rushing around the bow of your boat, it's possible you are trying to push that boat faster than it's natural efficient cruising speed.  And that's fine if you're racing a 5k at Shawnee Mission Lake on Wednesday night but it may be an unsustainable speed when you're doing 100 5ks in a row during the 340. 

I'm not giving advice here to the podium finishers who will do this race under 40 hours.  This is for the folks who want to finish the race and have a good experience while doing so.  It's to your benefit to find that speed and stroke rate that you can work for hours on end and put miles behind you without burning out. 

This will be a different speed for everyone and for every boat.  So in this sorting process from Kaw Point to Lexington, don't stress about other boats muscling past you.  You're really just trying to find that zen state of efficiency that gives you the best shot at finishing. 

There will be guys in shiny new boats that blow out of Kaw Point with whitewater at their bow and spray flying off their paddles.  And you will pass them 15 miles later... their paddles resting in their laps.  They'll be messing with their gps, already miserable and hurting and disillusioned... and you'll glide past doing the same mph you were doing two hours ago when they flew by.  It really is the tortoise and the hare for days and days. 

So find your sustainable groove early.  And if you've been training and racing, you already may know it.

Other considerations for efficiency. 

WEIGHT:  There is some magical thinking that because you're on water, there is no penalty for weight.  But I promise you that there is a stroke penalty for every ounce you carry from Kansas City to St. Charles.  If you were walking from KC to St. Charles, or riding a bike, this would be obvious and you'd pack light.  But for some reason we think that if there's room in the canoe we might as well take it along because what difference does it make? 

Because the race is soooo long.  Small efficiencies will add up over time to make a big difference.  So think carefully about what you bring and how much.  When sitting there with all your gear, trying to decide what to bring along, imagine there's a time stamped on everything.  Think you need binoculars?  Gonna cost 8 minutes of extra paddling to drag those to St. Charles.  Lucky rabbit's foot?  1 minute.  Celebratory bottle of champagne for the finish line?  9 minutes. 

And what about you?  Same rules of physics apply to that 10 pounds you've been meaning to lose before the race.  How much will that cost you in extra time and strokes out there?  I don't know the exact math, but I know that the 190 pound version of you has a huge advantage over the 200 pound version.  Physics doesn't care.  Physics shows no mercy.

What you really need are the essentials, and that list will depend on whether you have a physical ground crew vs a virtual ground crew.  (All boats must have one or the other)   A virtual ground crew monitors your progress from home and alerts us if they haven't heard from you in a timely manner.  A physical ground crew is there on site and checks with you in person on a regular basis.  We highly recommend a physically present ground crew to resupply you at checkpoints along the way.  This will allow you to carry less gear and nourishment between checkpoints and will make you faster.

Another way to create efficiency is to draft off other boats.  This is especially easy during day 1 where you will be within talking distance of boats all day and all night.  Chris Luedke made a great video about drafting and I'll let you watch that here:

And the final and most important secret to maintaining efficiency over a 340 mile race course?  It's so plainly obvious but many folks miss this one and it is the common demise of many racers.  STAY IN THE BOAT. 

Let's say you've done everything right and you have made great time from KC to your first scheduled meeting with ground crew.  You were efficient and kept a good stroke rate and carried no extra weight and passed by lots of boats that were overpacked and all over the river weaving back and forth out of the fast water.  But then, you get to that first checkpoint and you give it all back.  Your ground crew wasn't ready for you so all the gear is still in their car.  The ramp is crowded so it's a quarter mile walk to get it.  Then you get in line at the BBQ trailer.  Then you find a shady spot to eat.  Then you decide to clean the mud off your boat, etc, etc. 

Every minute you spend on land is a minute you could have been in the boat, letting the river move you to your goal. 

Everything you can do in the boat, you should do in the boat.  Can you eat in the boat?  Yep.  And the river will move you about 3mph while you do it.  Can you pee in the boat?  Heck yes.  Figure it out.  You will have to pee countless times out there.  Do you really imagine that you'll pull over each time?  Good luck with that.  You'll be so worn out from that process you will never make it to Glasgow, forget St. Charles.  Can you sleep in the boat?  If you're a tandem or team boat, sure you can take turns catching some sleep, if you've prepared for it ahead of time and got your boat set up for it. 

That doesn't mean you need to short change yourself of the experience of visiting a checkpoint and talking to racers and thanking your ground crew and posing for pictures.  That's all part of the race and fun stuff and hopefully you've banked lots of time and can relax and enjoy it.  But if you're up against the cutoff times and worried about the Reaper (our pace boat) catching and eliminating you, minimize your shore time and let the river work for you.

More about the Reaper and how the pace boat works can be viewed here: 

In our next Dispatch we'll drill down on navigating the Missouri River both day and night. 

Until then, let me know what questions you have.


« Last Edit: 06/03/18 at 18:22:31 by N/A »  
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Reply #2 - 06/12/17 at 14:33:10
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

2017 Dispatch #3

Check It Out

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, August 8th.   
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   
Glasgow, mile 226, (68 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15   
Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (82 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 cutoff times are part of our safety plan filed with the United States Coast Guard and the Missouri Water Patrol.  Cutoff times are essential to adventure racing and ultra-marathon events to keep participants in a reasonable safety halo.  The times have been fine tuned over the previous 11 races.  In your preparation for the race, we recommend planning to build a cushion of time over the course of your miles so that you are not tight up against the clock at each checkpoint.  The split times between checkpoints are generous and allow for this.  It's essential to bank up some time so that when things are imperfect like weather, fog or motivation, you'll have a buffer to play with.  Barely scooting into each checkpoint is not a sustainable strategy.  One hiccup can end your race.

If this is your first time seeing these cutoff times, you may be freaking out.  But given time for further study, you'll soon see that there is a lot of wiggle room built in to each night.  The math is such that, in theory, a person could be off the river every night by 9pm and then back on the water at 5am and still make all the cutoff times.  I am not sure anyone has tried this.  Well, I take that back.  They have tried it, but they woke up at 5am in Waverly and decided they did not want to get back on the water.  DNF (Did Not Finish)  Not because they couldn't have made it to Miami in time, but because they were stiff and sore and the entire race was now 32 miles ahead of them and it was psychologically overwhelming to continue. 

Everyone who does finish the race paddles in the dark for portions of the journey.  Not really because they HAVE to but because they WANT to.  Paddling at night, if done responsibly and safely, will be one of your favorite parts of the event.  Ask any veteran of the race.  You'll be looking forward to sunset each day.

If paddling at night is an apprehension you have about this race, I'm here to help you unpack that a little and hopefully feel better.  Because there is a lot to feel apprehensive about paddling 340 miles in 88 hours... but paddling at night really isn't one of them if done properly.

Fear #1
I won't be able to see, I'll get disoriented and I'll hit something.

Maybe, but unlikely.  First, darkness is a very gradual process.  You'll paddle at least 73 miles in daylight from KC to Waverly.  Lots of time to learn the ins and outs of paddling the Missouri River if you're not from the area.  And lots of time to wish the sun would hurry up and go down so it wouldn't be so hot.  Somewhere between 8 and 830 it will start getting dusky and you'll finally take your sunglasses off.  Somewhere around 9pm you'll see the brightest stars.  By 10pm you'll be paddling under the full moon but you'll still easily see the gray treeline on both sides and the water will be a a darker color sparkling with reflected stars and moonlight. 

And in your nightmare where you're lost and disoriented and frantically paddling, you were probably all alone.  Not here.  If solitude was your hope for this race, I'm sorry.  You will see nothing but canoes ahead and behind.  Little red, green and white navigation lights on all the canoes and kayaks, all paddling in the same direction, all talking and singing and complaining and laughing and asking how far to the next checkpoint. 

Now, there ARE things you could accidentally hit out there.  Buoys, bridges, sand dredges, parked dredges, wing dikes, trees, etc. 

Most of these would be visible and easily avoided under normal circumstances.  Much harder to see if there is a storm or fog.  For this reason, we advise everyone to get off the river in the event of storms or fog.  Moron that later.  Sorry, more on that later.

Fear #2
What if i miss the checkpoint in the dark?

Nearly impossible.  Each checkpoint is marked with a blue flashing strobe and a large yellow flag.  They are also noisy.  You'll hear cars starting, people talking, boats clunking, etc.  And you will see the checkpoint up ahead for 30+ minutes as you paddle toward it.  Plenty of time to get your boat to that side of the river and pull in. 

It is disorienting to pull in to a checkpoint at night.  You've been paddling along on what looks and feels almost like a lake.  It's hard to discern that the water is moving. But when you set up to land on solid ground, it suddenly seems like the water is moving very fast and it takes some mental adjusting.  This is really not anything to worry about, just trying to let you be prepared for about 4 seconds of some weird river vertigo until you get your bearings.  Even multi year veterans who have been to these checkpoints in the dark again and again will feel this.  Again, you'll likely have the benefit of other boats landing ahead of you.  And lots of time to watch a few landings as you approach.  First, you identify where the ramp is.  There will be people there who appear to be standing on water.  That's the ramp.  It is angled downstream and often nearly parallel to the shore.  You will want to be near that shore, drifting alongside the ramp and as you drift past it you will then turn upstream and paddle up to the ramp.  Don't worry.  You did this earlier today at Lexington and at Waverly.  Miami is where most paddlers land after dark.  It is almost the exact ramp setup as Waverly.  There will be race volunteers down at the ramp to help you land and secure your boat.  Like the other ramps you've been to that day, they will ask if you're doing a touch and go or if you're going to be there more than a minute.  If you're staying more than a minute, they will ask you to carry your boat up the ramp (they will help you) so the bottom of the ramp remains open for the next paddler to land.  This is basic ramp operations all the way down the river.

Fear #3
How will I know where I am.

The river is marked nearly every 1-2 miles with mile markers.  There is one right at the peninsula at Kaw Point if you want to get a sneak peak of what they look like the day before the race.  This one says 367.5 which means 367.5 miles to mile 0 where the river enters the Mississippi.  You are only paddling 340 miles of this to St. Charles.

You'll have in your possession during the race a Safety Card with important info and phone numbers.  It is on waterproof paper.  This should be kept in a pocket on your PFD or somewhere on your person where you can easily access it.  It will have the checkpoint list and mile markers exactly as at the start of this dispatch.  You will almost have this list of mile markers memorized.  You will know that Miami is MM262 and so you will be watching these miles tick down as you approach. 

We used to have to hunt for these mile markers with flashlights and then paddle over to try to read them in the dark.  But now, good old technology has made paddling the river night or day even easier.

Jon Marble, a multi year veteran of the race and computer programmer has created the MR340 PRO Paddler app.  Talk about a breakthrough.  This $5 app does the work of an $800 chartplotter.  There is tons of utility built in for checking in to checkpoints nearly automatically to calculating your average speed and distance to next goal.  It is only available for android phones.  But if you're an apple person, it's still worth buying a used android phone and just using your home wifi to download the app.  It does NOT need phone service to function for navigation and speed display.  It just needs the internal gps to work.  So having an apple is no excuse.  Buy and old samsung galaxy 3 or newer and get the app.  It will be a great investment. 

Here are some videos about the MR340 PRO Paddler app.  Pay attention especially to the navigation features where it shows the map of the Missouri. 


Jon also has an app for texting in only.  This is highly recommended for you and your ground crew.  It is called MR340 Check Point Texter and is FREE and available for IPHONE AND ANDROID.  It doesn't do the mapping but it will format a perfect text for you with the touch of a couple buttons and send that text directly into the tracking system at RaceOwl and make everything run smoothly for our volunteers.  You can text from your boat or your ground crew can do it from shore.  Any phone can run this app.  Download it and play around with it so you can train your ground crew. 

Fear #4
The map shows the river and the wing dikes and bridges but what about the buoys and dredges and barges?

If visibility is good you will see these things.  If visibility if NOT good,  (storm, fog) you should get off the river.  A good LED flashlight ($20) can pick out almost anything that doesn't look right.  But it will be useless in rain or fog and will just shine back in your face. 

Here are two great Chris Luedke videos about paddling at night and fog.  Please watch both.  Each are about 5 minutes.

Night Paddling: https://youtu.be/fjgkdiH6cLE?list=PLzoUC3XH8qEW1XgcPcGmrvB7USj6IrHX0

Fog: https://youtu.be/2AmKkRNg6fM?list=PLzoUC3XH8qEW1XgcPcGmrvB7USj6IrHX0

Great pictures and commentary to let you experience some of what night paddling will be like out there.

In the next dispatch we will talk more about sharing the river with barges and dredges.  And we will detail the check in and check out procedures at the checkpoints. 


« Last Edit: 07/18/17 at 19:32:11 by N/A »  
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Reply #3 - 07/05/17 at 10:24:30
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

2017 Dispatch #4

Now that July is here the race seems much closer.  We can now say "next month" which puts racers and race directors into a cold sweat with the long list of things to prepare and mark off the list in the next few weeks.

As usual, we ask that you check the roster and verify there are no issues with your entry.  We still have several TBD racers to get registered.  This really needs to happen fast.  Also, some of you chose numbers that were already taken.  We need a new number choice so we can finalize rosters for our safety teams.

Here's your roster:  http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1481992368

Remember, there are no refunds for non participation.  We are locked and loaded for the 12th Annual MR340. 

We would also like to remind everyone of key milestones leading up to your eventual finish in St. Charles.

Boat Staging at Kaw Point
Highly recommended you stage your boat at Kaw Point Park the day before the race (August 7th) We will have our usual security guys down there starting at noon.  Their job, with roster in hand, is to watch for boats LEAVING the park.  If you are dropping a boat off, they will politely ignore you.  If you are loading a boat up to leave, they will ask to verify that your ID matches the name on the roster for that boat number.  This is the security we have offered for several years with no problems.  But ultimately, your boat is your responsibility.  It could still get damaged or sneakily removed or a storm could come and blow it away.  But the odds are it will just be sitting there all night waiting for you to show up and put 340 miles on it.  Ramp and parking lot will be ridiculous come Tuesday morning and you will not be able to drive your boat to the water.  Better to offload it Monday afternoon or evening and have one less thing to worry about.  Do not leave paddles or expensive electronics or pfds with boat.

Race Check IN for ALL Participants.  Anytime August 7th between 2pm and 6pm at the Convention Center adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn.  530 Minnesota Ave, Kansas City, KS  Lower level.  Follow the smell of sunscreen and adrenaline.  Avoid the line and get there early.  We will likely be ready by 1pm for early birds.  Line will get LOOOONG if you show up at 530. 

Mandatory Safety Meeting 
August 7th, 7pm, Hilton Garden Inn Convention Center.  This is typically a one hour deal.  A couple sponsors will speak and you will cheer wildly for them.  Then we will go through the safety presentation which is a quick summary of what we've been talking about in these dispatches.  It's a fun meeting with standing room only and well over 1000 people in attendance.  If you're not pumped about the race, this will get you there.

Tuesday, August 8th, Kaw Point Park  7am start for all solos.  8am start for everything else.  All finish times calculated based on your division start time. 

Ok, let's talk barges and dredges.

The Missouri is a navigable inland waterway and as such has barge traffic moving up and down between St. Charles, MO and Sioux City, IA.  You will see barges.  Some years we've seen as few as two.  Some years we've seen 5.  If you count the smaller sand barges that are servicing the sand dredges, then we will see anywhere from 5-8 barges that you will have to pass. 

The river is pretty huge and there is more than enough room for you to share it with a barge.  Please note, these barges have to pass each other.  If they can manage that without incident, then passing you is no problem.  IF you behave in a manner that is predictable to them.

Have you ever come upon a squirrel in the middle of the road?  It sees you coming and darts left, then right, then left, then right.  Flattened squirrels happen because they don't commit early and get out of the way.  Yes, this is a metaphor.

The barges, by their very design, are obligated to stay in the designated channel of the river.  This is the deepest and fastest water and by staying in this channel they know they won't hit the bottom of the river or a wing dike.  Soooo, all we have to do when encountering a barge is to remove ourselves from the channel.  Yes, you can keep paddling if you choose to.  But you should be well out of the channel in the shallow, slower water. 

It's always necessary to assess the wake behind the towboat pushing the barges.  Sometimes, this wake can be huge and create water that will capsize a boat. This is typically a very heavy load being pushed upstream.  Sometimes the wake is negligible.  This is typically a light load being pushed downstream.  And sometimes the wake is fun size and the waves are just right for a few minutes of fun to break up the long miles. 

If you see tall standing waves and white water behind the tow, you might opt to just pull off to the non channel side, do some body maintenance like stretching or sunscreening.  If the water looks manageable, then paddle on your way, avoiding any squirrel like behavior. 

Sand Dredges

If you live within a hundred miles of the Missouri River, odds are your driveway, sidewalk and basement were once just Missouri River sand.  This sand is harvested daily from the river bottom by huge, rusty, noisy, angry machines anchored mid river.  These dredges are held in place by anchors attached to rusty cables as big as your wrist.  They generally only operate 7am to 5pm, but they remain out there all night. 

When operating, they suck sand from the bottom and pump it into sand barges parked alongside.  When the barge gets full, a towboat comes to pick it up and drop off an empty.  The full barge then gets a short ride, usually a mile or less, to the shoreside processing facility.  This goes on all day. 

So, when you approach a dredge, be aware that if it is operating then there is likely a towboat moving nearby. 

Here the rules for barges gets a little wacky because the dredge may be slightly off channel.  You will have lots of time to make a non squirrel decision about which side to pass the dredge.  He ain't moving so that helps, but his cables out front will often rise up and down out of the water for several yards.  So keep well clear of the front.  Watch for the service towboat to come or go.  We will pass 3-4 of these sand operations.  One within the first 10 miles of the race.  But they typically don't start operating until we pass that morning.  We radio them when the last boat goes by and they wave to you and fire it up.

At night, these usually do not operate.  Last year the one above Jefferson City was operating.  First time we'd seen that happen in the entire 10 year history of the race.  We don't expect it but always be prepared for it.  They are supposed to leave a bright light shining on the bow and stern overnight.  But these can fail.  Always listen and keep a good LED flashlight near. 

Parked barges also warrant a paragraph.  Most of the barge traffic pulls over at night for the race.  These could be on either side of the river.  Definitely marked with navigation lighting and the towboats are very well lit.  But sometimes there are barges parked on shore, just tied to trees with no towboat.  These are also supposed to be lit but lights can fail.  Again, this is just an awareness thing.  You'd be unlikely to be hugging the shore at night anyway.  At night, it's generally good practice to stay near the middle of the river. 

Here's a great Chris Luedke video about barges that all should watch:  https://youtu.be/rYp2IpiQGPg?list=PLzoUC3XH8qEW1XgcPcGmrvB7USj6IrHX0

For barges and other purposes, we treat the river like a 5 lane highway.  Lane 1 is on your far left, right up against the shore.  Next is lane 2.  Lane 3 is the exact middle lane.  Then lane 4 on your right and lane 5 hugging the right shore. 

Chris Luedke has another great video that illustrates this nicely. 

Typically, lanes 1 and 5 are for avoiding a barge (whichever lane is off channel) or for finding some shade during the heat of the day or for avoiding some big wind.  Lanes 2,3 and 4 are usually the fastest water, depending on which side is the channel for any given stretch. 

Sometimes lane 1 or lane 5 is the fastest water if the bend is tight.  But too close to shore will slow you a bit. 

At night, lane 3 is usually a safe bet if you're confused about the channel or if you lose the moon for a few minutes due to cloud cover.  There are exceptions to lane 3 being clear.  This happens in places like Lisbon Bottoms or Berger Bend.  These are good places to look at on Google Earth and get a feel for.  Or just stick with some other paddlers.  Odds are you go through these during daylight most likely. 

More on Lisbon Bottoms: https://youtu.be/h49WFEdMZ8M

A reminder that under full moon conditions with light or little cloud cover, the river is very well lit and it's pretty easy to see the water, the shore, the trees, etc.  If conditions deteriorate and you are struggling to see the treeline and water surface, it might be time to get some rest. 


Sometimes I think there's a misconception that folks have if this is their first adventure race or ultra marathon event.  I think there's a feeling that if there's bad weather, the race officials will clear the course and there will be shelter provided, etc.  This is not possible.  We will not start the race in a storm but once the race is started, storm safety is on each racer to administer for themselves and their boat.  Treat the situation as though you were on a solo adventure on the Missouri River.  A storm is clearly approaching.  You see lightning and hear thunder.  The wind is picking up.  What would you do?  It is likely, on this hypothetical solo adventure, you'd find a place to pull over.  You'd secure your boat.  You'd put on the rain gear you packed.  You'd get out the tarp or tent you packed and you'd hunker down and let the storm pass.  Same protocol should be in place during the race. 

We have rain at some point along the course during every year of the race.  Some folks are ahead of it or behind it and never get wet.  But every year, somebody gets rained on.  Sometimes hailed on.  Sometimes wind so strong it crashes them into the rocks. 

In our modern world it has never been easier to know what the weather is doing.  Odds are you have access to HD doppler radar on your phone.  Certainly you have an app that does weather forecasting for the night ahead.  If there is a chance of rain or storms, grab what you need from your ground crew for that night.  Rain suit, tarp, small tent, whatever your preference.  You can hand it all back to them in the morning. 

When a storm hits day or night we are assuming that you are off the river as needed and you will get back on once the storm clears.  During a storm we cannot send a safety boat to pick you up because you are cold or wet.  It's not safe for the safety boat to go out in high winds or lightning.  Obviously, if someone is hypothermic and shivering uncontrollably we want to know so we can have the nearest boat ready to go as soon as the wind calms enough.  But the expectation is that you are prepared for the weather just as you would be on a training run. 

There are hundreds of great stories from this race of long stormy nights spent huddled in a space blanket under a canoe, in the mud, wondering if the sun would ever rise.  While miserable hours are spent in such conditions, the stories always seem to be told with a huge grin on the face of the teller.  In other words, don't fear the weather.  Respect it.  Prepare for it.  You'll live to tell the tale.  And it will be one of your favorite MR340 stories. 

Fog is a similar story.  Please take 5 minutes to watch this excellent video about the MR340 and FOG: https://youtu.be/2AmKkRNg6fM

Ground Crews

Thing One:  Every boat is required to have a ground crew.
Thing Two: Ground crew can be either physical or virtual.

A physical ground crew is one you see at checkpoints and they take care of you.  They cheer, they cajole, they pretend you don't stink... and they make your odds of finishing much better.  Also important!  They are a human being that is aware if you are late getting to a checkpoint and that something may be awry. 

Without them observing your lateness, we wouldn't know there was a problem until the checkpoint closes.  And that could be hours or for some checkpoints, over a day. 

So your ground crew is an important part of the safety net.  But not everybody can convince someone to be along as a physical ground crew.  Thus, the virtual ground crew.  They are NOT there to give you a back rub but they are "there" on the other end of a phone and so they are paying attention to your progress with pre-arranged text messages that you agree on ahead of time as the race unfolds. 

There are fancy satellite tracking products that could help a virtual ground crew monitor your progress but essentially, a good old text message will do the trick. 

Example:  Race starts, you have told your VGC that you expect to make it to Lexington by 3pm and you will text her then.  At 330pm she starts getting nervous but BOOM there's your text message.  "We made it!  Will text you again at Waverly.  We think it should be about 7pm.  So, she jots this down on the cool map you gave her.  And voila!  She gets a text at 645pm.  You're early!  "We made it to Waverly.  We are going on to Miami.  Will text you next at 11pm. 

But then...  a storm brews up and you decide to wait it out at Hills Island.  Sure enough, 11pm approaches.  So you text VGC.  "Storm has us on Hills Island, Mile 281.  We will text when we leave."  She writes this down on map next to Hills Island. 

4am you shove off from Hills Island.  Text "We are heading to Miami.  Will be there by 7am."

You get the idea. 

Now, let's say 7am comes along and she doesn't hear from you.  She knows that you might be late so she gives you some time.  But then it's 8am and she still hasn't heard.  Now she texts you but you don't reply.  She calls but it goes straight to voicemail.  Now she's nervous so at 815 she calls the safety boat dispatch. 

Hi, I'm worried about boat 4334.  They were supposed to text me at Miami at 7am but they are over an hour late and they aren't answering. 

Our order of operations would be to call our sweep safety boat that left Hills Island at 6am.  Their job is to scrape both shores of the river and makes sure there are no boats between Hills Island and Miami.  We'd tell them the boat number and color and they'd keep an eye out.  Our safety boats in Miami would also get a call and they would start looking at the boats parked in Miami.  At 815 on Wednesday morning there will be well over 100 boats parked in the grass there. 

99 times out of 100 the boat is there with the guys asleep.  They thought they sent the text but it didn't go through.  Phone is turned off now to save batteries.  False alarm.  But the good news is, the system worked and had there been a problem with an illness or broken boat, we would have a head start on solving it rather than waiting for Miami to close at 11am and then wondering where they are. 

This is even more important at subsequent checkpoints that are open for 30+ hours. 

So your VGC is really just a fan.  He or she wants you to succeed.  They follow your progress either by fancy satellite tracking or by simple text communication.  They have the race phone numbers.  You should make it YOUR priority as a racer to check in with them as diligently as you do with your normal checkpoint texting.  If you are going to be late, let them know.  If your phone stops working beg another paddler to send a message so that there is no worrying.

Checking in at Checkpoints:

All racers must check in at each of the 8 checkpoints between KC and St. Charles.  This is regardless of Physical or Virtual ground crews.  There must be a text message sent to race officials at each checkpoint. 

This data is uploaded to RaceOwl.com where the race data is compiled and checked against rosters and our safety plan.  If a paddler is not checked in when a checkpoint closes a series of phone calls get started as well as a search of the river.  This all pulls resources dedicated to racer safety and focuses them on finding the boat in question.  In all the history of the race, such a search ends with us finding a paddler who simply forgot to check in or didn't confirm that the phone message went through.  Happy ending every single time but frustrating as it pulls our people away from keeping the rest of the group safe. 

Sometimes things happen that won't let you text.  Maybe your phone got wet or you don't have a signal.  No problem!  Your ground crew can text you in if they are there.  Most ground crews do this anyway for their paddlers.  If your ground crew is virtual or they are simply not there, just ask a safety boat at the checkpoint to text you in.  Or ask another paddler or ground crew.  All will be happy to help.  It's simple and takes 10 seconds. 

Please watch the following tutorial about the text in procedures: 

Finally for this week, let's talk about checkpoint atmosphere and etiquette.  And again, we thank Chris Luedke for an illuminating video.  Please watch.

We are getting there!  Lots to do but we're all going to pull this off together.  Keep working on your boat and your body and your mind.  Nobody that finishes this thing regrets it.  If this is your first time, BE EXCITED.  There's a reason that almost everyone does this more than once.  It will be among the toughest things you've ever done but it will also be one of the most inspiring catalysts for whatever you do next.  Don't be overwhelmed or anxious.  We're all a team and helping hands will be everywhere. 

Let me know what questions you have.  Look for the next dispatch soon.


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Reply #4 - 07/06/17 at 11:48:25
GloryDaze   Ex Member

Thanks Scott- I am putting some contact info for my GC together and was wondering if you have the key contact's phone #'s already identified during the race?

If so, would you mind sharing?

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Reply #5 - 07/09/17 at 21:34:55
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Text In phone number is 816-340-6395  That is a text only number.  And best to use the free MR340 Text In app available on android and iphone.  Free app.  Made by Marbleware

The safety boat dispatch number is pending as we confirm volunteers. 

It will be printed on a waterproof safety card that you will receive at check in on August 7th.  There will also be a secondary backup number for safety boat dispatch listed. 

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Reply #6 - 07/10/17 at 09:53:15
JohnK   Ex Member

Scott,  I can't remember if we gave description of our kayak at registration.  I have changed the kayak I intend to use this year.  Is that something you need to know?
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Reply #7 - 07/10/17 at 14:39:13
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Yes, just the dominant color above the waterline.  Email scott@rivermiles.com

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Reply #8 - 07/18/17 at 19:45:17
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Welcome to Dispatch #5

Some big changes so please read!

We hope you're as excited as we are about the upcoming 12th Annual Missouri American Water MR340.  Our team has been working night and day in preparation and we know you are too!  It's a huge group effort and we are all pulling on this rope together.  So hang on!

River situation is currently looking pretty good.  We've had some heavy rains in the basin but there was room in the lakes and in the river to absorb this.  We are never completely out of the woods with this river.  One single nasty storm has been enough to flood us out in some previous years.  We will keep an eye on precipitation and river levels and hope we don't see any big rises in the next 3 weeks.

We've had some amazing volunteers emerge.  Some experienced veterans from previous 340s and also some brand new folks who are excited to jump in and help you pull this off!  We could NOT do this race without the 150+ volunteers that show up every year to cheer you on and keep things running.  Please always give a hearty thank you to the volunteers at each station.

Lots of good meetings with safety boat teams and our tracking team over the past week.  We've decided to makes some changes to the required checkpoints and to our safety boat placement, adding boats to high traffic areas especially on the night portions. 

Paddlers seem to know best where to meet their ground crews and as crowds have formed at these ramps we've followed with safety boats.  Good examples would be Dalton, Franklin Island, Coopers Landing, Chamois, New Haven, etc.  Lots of racers choose these over the more crowded venues.  So we're going to make sure we're there too as much as possible.

So PLEASE NOTE.  Checkpoint requirements have CHANGED.

There are now only 6 REQUIRED Checkpoints
where you must text in your in and out times.  This is down from 8.

Instead, we have added several places we plan to have safety boats for most of the time that the largest numbers of paddlers are moving through. 

The revamped list of required checkpoints where you must send a tracking text are in bold.  The others are safety boat stations and are not required.

1. Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) cutoff 5pm Tuesday  Total avg. 5.56

2. Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles from Lexington) cutoff 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75 mph  Total avg. 5.62

3. Glasgow, mile 226 (68 miles from Waverly)  cutoff 6pm Wed.,  Leg avg. 3.24mph,  Total avg. 4.15mph

4. Noren Access, Wilson's Serenity Point, Jeff City, mile 144, (82 miles from Glasgow) cutoff time 7pm Thurs.,  Leg avg. 3.28mph, Total avg. 3.78mph

5. Hermann, mile 98 (46 miles from Jeff City) cutoff 10am Friday, Leg avg. 3.07mph,  Total avg. 3.64

6. Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles from Hermann) cutoff 6pm Friday, Leg avg. 5.25 mph, Total avg. 3.79

7. St. Charles, mile 29, FINISH LINE, (27 miles from Klondike) cutoff Friday, 1159pm  Leg avg. 4.5mph,  Total avg. 3.85mph

In addition to the mandatory checkpoints, we will have a safety presence at the following interim locations.  These are not required checkpoints and no check in is needed.

Hills Island, mile 281, Safety Boats for duration, Fire. (no car access)

Miami, mile 262, Safety Boats for duration, toilets, concessions (flag and flasher)

Dalton, mile 240  Safety Boat midnight to sunrise Wednesday morning.

Franklin Island, (Boonville area)  mile 195,  Safety Boats for duration, toilets, concessions (flag and flasher)

Coopers Landing, mile 170,  Safety Boats for duration, toilets, concessions (flag and flasher)

Chamois, mile 118,  Safety Boat patrol rotation, water, restrooms, shower

New Haven, mile 81,  Safety Boat patrol rotation, Restrooms

Washington, mile 68,  Safety Boat patrol rotation, full service town on the river.

Before anyone panics, Miami will be open for business and will be packed with paddlers and ground crews as always.  It's one of the best food spreads you'll find at any of the towns along the river and if it fits your race schedule and strategy, you should absolutely stop.  We will have a safety boat there all night and many volunteers to assist you. 

Katfish Katys will not be open during the week.  It's a private operation and they are now only open on weekends and no longer have a campground.   Luckily, Franklin Island and Coopers Landing are open and in the same stretch of river.  Hartsburg is another good option if you need to meet your ground crew before Jefferson City.

Unsupported paddlers should probably use Coopers Landing as it will for sure have food available 24 hours per day.  Rumor is that we will have a delicious food truck at Franklin Island and we will let you know when confirmed. 

In summary, you are no longer required to check in at Miami but Miami will have the same party going on as always.

Katfish Katy's will not be open.  The stretch between Glasgow and Jeff City will now have two staffed ramps at Franklin Island and Coopers Landing.  Neither of these are checkpoints but both are good places to meet ground crew.  We are blessed on this stretch with 4 great ramps.  Franklin, Providence, Coopers and Hartsburg.  And lots of sandbars.  Every racer and ground crew should pick a strategy that works for them.  When you leave Glasgow, you have a long buffet of boat ramps on your way to Jefferson City.

A note on Coopers Landing.  Parking will fill up fast and overflow parking will be along the road that leads to Coopers.  Cooper will have parking attendants with walkie talkies to manage the parking.  Like most checkpoints, you may have to walk a fair distance to get to the ramp from your car.  Wagons, carts, coolers on wheels, are all good ideas.  Another cool thing about Coopers is that it's near Columbia  So this might be stretch that you give your ground crew a break at a hotel while you enjoy Coopers without them.  There will be Thai food served all night and breakfast in the morning.  Store will be open all night with drinks, ice cream, etc.  Many veterans stop at Coopers for this reason.

Jon Marble's MR340 Apps and Hogan Haake's RaceOwl apps will be updated soon to reflect the changes with no check in at Miami or Katfish Katy's.  If your phone asks you to let those apps update, be sure to allow it before the race. 

For those who have been around this race awhile, you know that checkpoint changes have happened before.  Former checkpoints like Washington and Weldon Springs have come and gone.  Checkpoints cutoff times have changed.  Even the duration of the race changed from 100 hours to 88. 

A NOTE:  I spent today driving the road from Boonville to Coopers to Hartsburg to Jefferson City.  My phone brought me right to where I needed to be every time.  That is one thing that has gotten much easier.  Here are some things for your ground crew to try typing into their phone nav to see if your phone knows where these are.

Franklin Island Access
Coopers Landing
Noren Access  (this is Jefferson City)

Without fail my google default driving app knew what I was trying to type after the first few letters and talked me right there through some winding river bottom gravel roads.  Gone are the days you need to print off a stack of maps or get arcane directions from the locals.  It's all right there.  Same will be true of almost any ramp on the Missouri if you type the name in properly.

Currently the company that manages the convention space where we always have the safety meeting is NOT planning on serving the buffet in the meeting room this year.  The hotel (different company) is planning to have their bar/restaurant open as usual.  But as you know, this is limited seating and you can't be up there eating during the 7-8pm safety meeting.  SO...unless something changes (we are working on a few ideas)  You should plan to eat before the meeting or after.  Registration will be up and running from 2pm to 6pm so get that done early and go eat.  Then come back for the required meeting.

ONE MORE NOTE:  Our usual guitar/violin duo Scotty Lane and Rob Foster are back for their 4th year to perform as the pre meeting entertainment.  Please come heckle them starting around 530pm.  BONUS:  They are also performing the National Anthem the following morning for the 7am start.

A BONUS NOTE:  Please check the roster and make sure your boat not missing a boat number OR a partner.  Still a bunch of TBD paddlers on there and we are out of time.  Get your partner registered ASAP.  Roster here:

There will be at least two more dispatches over the next 3 weeks leading up to the race. 

Keep the questions coming.  Happy to help.


« Last Edit: 07/19/17 at 21:44:47 by N/A »  
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Reply #9 - 07/19/17 at 05:49:29
KY Paddler   Ex Member


A 150+ Thank yous to you and the amazing volunteers.  Thanks.

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Reply #10 - 07/25/17 at 14:24:38
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch Number 6

The TWO WEEK Countdown.

So here we are, two weeks to go.  Is your mind racing with a million details?  Are you having race dreams like you're at Kaw Point but you can't find your paddle?  Are you sweating in the heat walking from your car into work and wondering how you'll ever survive paddling in triple digits?

Breathe, relax... everything will work out.  The 340 has been started and finished by thousands before you.  You've got a capable mind and body and you'll be surrounded by others with the same genetic disposition for taking on adventure and wondering what's around the bend.  Yes, we will all suffer.  But we will make it through whatever that week holds for us. 

That said, we still gotta get ready!

Let's get through some details.  Most of you are on top of this.  But too many of you are still struggling with some roster stuff and it's driving our staff crazy.

This is the roster:

On most browsers, you can hit Control F to find your name.  Please check to make sure that there is a boat number listed.  Many of you still owe us a valid boat number.

Reminder that these boat numbers need to be placed, by you, on both sides of your bow.  Reflective numbers appreciated.  Your boat MUST have some sort of reflective surface (tape or decals) visible from any angle.  In other words, a fishing boat or a safety boat needs to be able to spot you.  Our boats moving at night scan shoreline for boats pulled off the river for any reason.  We can't see your boat unless there is reflective material on it. 

Bonus hint.  Some reflective tape around the shaft of your paddle might be the difference between you finding a dropped paddle on the river and NOT finding a dropped paddle on the river. 

Please check that your partner or partners are signed up.  As of this dispatch, there are 35 partners missing.  We are flat running out of time. 


Monday, August 7th

Hilton Garden Inn, Kansas City, KS.  520 Minnesota Ave

Check in 2pm to 6pm.  (Arrive early if possible)  Safety meeting 7pm to 8pm.

Food and limited seating available in the hotel restaurant before and after meeting.  As of right now, no food service in the ballrooms.  Will update if changes.  Lots of places to eat near hotel. 

Security for boats available at Kaw Point Park starting at noon Monday.  Please don't leave your gear. 

There is a lot of parking but we have to be efficient about it and keep pathways for emergency vehicles.  We will have parking attendants wearing yellow vests starting at 5am.  They will manage filling every spot inside the park.  Then, they will stop allowing cars inside.  AT this point, there are designated parking areas outside the floodwall that will require 100 yards+ of walking, depending on where you end up.  This will be good practice for the checkpoints you hit all week.

Please do not grumble at our parking crew.  They are performing a very advanced game of Tetris trying to get you all situated.  Hopefully, you've just got some paddles and pfds to carry to your boat which is already in the park.  We will show some parking schematics at the safety meeting.

Mandatory Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, August 8th.   
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   
Glasgow, mile 226, (68 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15   
Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (82 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

This reflects the newly updated checkpoints.  These are the only places you have to text in.  Except the finish line... we will record that time.  As described in previous dispatches, there are many, many boat ramps not listed here where you can meet ground crew.  Also, Miami Access will have an enormous food spread put on by the town.  Franklin Island Access (Boonville) will have some resources available for unsupported racers.  Cooper's Landing (a privately owned establishment) will be open all night with food and resources.  These are not required stops.  These are options for you to meet ground crew.  Along with the many other ramps along the Missouri River, too many to name here.  That's where strategy comes in.


With the removal of two cutoffs at Miami and Katfish, we suspect that some will struggle with the extra rope they are given.  Be aware that the Reaper boat will be keeping all her appointments.  So, if the Reaper beats you to Miami, even though you are not DQ'd there, it's a telltale sign that your race is in some jeopardy.  If the Reaper beats you to Glasgow, you are OUT.  Or to any mandatory checkpoint for that matter. 

The Reaper will be hard to miss this year.  It has a giant sea monster on both sides.  It has red eyes on the front windows.  And when it's on the Reaper pace, it will be flying a large black flag.  It creeps along at about 5.5 mph most of the time.  If she passes you, it doesn't mean you are out.  You can pass her right back.  But if she beats you to one of the mandatory checkpoints, you are absolutely out. 

Remember when calculating split times on the above list of cutoffs, solos actually get an extra hour with their earlier start at Kaw Point.  So if you're a solo sweating these cutoff times, do the math with the extra hour and you'll see it's not quite as bad for you.  Day 1 cutoff times are the hardest.  After that, most paddlers start building up some buffer time. 

Please get this free app for you and your ground crew.  It will walk you through texting in at each checkpoint.  It also has a button for DNF (did not finish)  If you quit the race, it is required that you text us a DNF message.  This prevents us from trying to find you!

Some people will check in at the hotel Monday night, then not start in the morning.  IF this ends up being you, you have to text us a DNF message either via regular text or via the app.


RaceOwl is a great website and is a good way for your friends and family to follow your race from home.  All the texts we receive get entered into raceowl and will show approximately what place you're in, etc.  These are not official results until the finish is recorded in St. Charles, but it's a fun way to follow the race.  RaceOwl also has some apps that will do some tracking for you as does the MR340 ProPaddler app.  If you're interested, you should check out the website and the ProPaddler app.

Yellow Vests and Flags

Our safety boats all fly yellow flags with the skull and paddles logo to identify them as part of the safety team.  Our volunteers at checkpoints are typically wearing yellow mesh vests, especially at Lexington and Waverly day 1.  We are there to help and answer questions.  If you or your crew are having trouble texting in, we can show you how.  Just flag us down.  Safety boats are usually docked at each checkpoint unless they are out on a call.  They are happy to help as well. 

Boat Color and Ground Crew Contact Info

When you registered for the race you entered a ground crew name and phone number.  ALL PADDLERS MUST HAVE A GROUND CREW either virtual or physical who is ultimately responsible for knowing your whereabouts.  We reserve the right to call these phone numbers at any time during the race to verify that your ground crew contact has spoken to you via voice or text and knows your general location along the race course. 

If your contact name and number has changed since you registered, please send that updated information to scott@rivermiles.com asap so we can correct it.  This will save you time at sign in.

We also collected a boat color when you entered.  This is the dominant color of the topside of your boat.  If you've changed boat color since entry, please send that as well. 


Something like 97% of all drowning victims are NOT wearing a PFD.  It's the simplest thing you can do to prevent a tragedy while paddling.  We require everyone to wear a PFD at all times.  Many of you are choosing to wear belt or suspender style inflatables.  Please make sure you have a backup pfd in case this one discharges and is no longer practical to use.  Also, it's a good idea to have a standard PFD available with ground crew for use at night or in inclement weather scenarios.  Also, if one style chafes you raw you can switch to the other. 


Speaking of chafing, you will be chafing.  In weird places.  This can mitigated with a variety of products that will keep you slippery.  Just google anti chafe or sports lube and get all kinds of ideas.  Cotton shirts are tough on guys especially.  The cotton gets wet and basically becomes sandpaper on a part of your body most guys never think about.  Yep, the male nipple.  You will see men with band aids over their nipples and under their shirts at Kaw Point.  You can laugh but you'll know why by sunset that day.  Use of lube or bandaids or tape or a silky soft shirt can help prevent this. 

Just about anywhere on your body can have an issue.  Pay attention to "hot spots" that you will start feeling early on.  Better to deal with it early by adjusting the garments or taping the area then to wait until there is bleeding. 

Your hands will be pretty beat up.  Same thing there.  Pay attention to where you start feeling issues.  Adjust or change your grip periodically to spread the burden to as much skin as you can.  Use duct tape or other means to mitigate as the race moves along.


We are hoping this will be a great year for sandbars with the river at a more normal summertime flow.  There is nothing better than spotting a sandbar and night and catching a power nap or even a power bath.  Or, during the day, pulling over and sitting shoulder deep in the water on a sandbar and cooling down.   A couple thoughts.  Just because it's a sandbar doesn't mean you can't get in trouble as a swimmer.  Your body will be very taxed and a cramp could happen any time.  Imagine trying to swim with two leg cramps.  Or a back cramp.  Or your abs cramp up.  Keep the pfd on.  You may think the water is just knee deep but one more step may be over your head and your swimming.  If sleeping, be sure your boat is pulled up enough to prevent a rise in the river or a sudden wind from scooting it off the island and downstream. 


Your relationship with sleep will be forever changed by this experience.  You're definition of "tired" will never be the same.  You must be cognizant of your safety relative to your sharpness of mind and decision making. 

Everyone is different.  But we can share with you what we've seen in 11 previous years of this race.

Nobody has much success sleeping at Waverly.  The cutoff time is 9pm so you're leaving a lot of really good quality paddling time on the table by stopping there and trying to sleep.  There are trains running through the park every 30 minutes.  There are cars and people and noise.  We have discouraged people from stopping here.  They almost never make it to the next checkpoint on time.  The race leaves them behind by 20 miles and they never catch up to the pack again. 

What we hear from paddlers is that it is far better to push on to Hills Island or Miami or Glasgow.  Stopping at one of these spots means you've made a bunch of miles while the sun is down and the heat is dialed way back.  When you finally decide to stop at midnight, or 2am or 8am, you are actually tired enough to fall asleep.   And you fall immediately to sleep.  No tossing and turning.  And it's the deepest most restful sleep you can imagine.  Because your brain is ready for it.  You close your eyes and the dreams start right away. 

The worst heat of the day will be from about 1pm to 5pm.  This is a great time to pull off at a ramp and sleep in your ground crew vehicle.  If you've paddled all night and through the morning, you've avoided the worst heat and you've built up a huge lead over the Reaper.  You'll never see it again.  Now you've earned real, deep sleep.  Wake up at 5pm, have some dinner and hit the water for another beautiful night. 

Again, every team is different and will have a different approach to when it's time to take breaks.  This is just anecdotal evidence from veteran paddlers.  There's the camp that always goes for Miami.  And the camp that always goes for Glasgow.  Stopping in Waverly for sleep is a pretty bad sign at 9pm.  Make Hills Island your goal at minimum.  Even the 9pm Waverly crowd gets there by 11pm or midnight.  It's pretty quiet.  Sandy beach.  There will probably be 15-20 boats there at midnight when the last one arrives.  They start leaving about 3am, a couple at a time and they are all gone by 6am when the Reaper leaves. 

Obviously, weather is the big boss.  If there's a thunderstorm at Waverly at 9pm, a whole bunch of canoes will be stuck there.  We take what nature gives us and we make it work.  But that's all the more reason why if nature is giving you a beautiful night and a fat moon, you should proceed as the way opens and take advantage of it while you can.  Ask any veteran, they look forward to the sun going down.  Best paddling hours in my informal survey.

8am-10am  Feeling good.  Not too hot.
11am to 1pm.  Starting to get hot.  Looking forward to the next ramp.
1pm to 5pm.  What is this hell planet we are trying to live on.

6pm to 8pm.  Earth isn't such a bad planet after all.
9pm to 10pm.  Sun goes down.  Sky is a picture.
11pm to 2am.  The giggle hours.  Everything is funny.
3am to 5am.  We want a sunrise.  Where is the sun?  Singing to stay awake.
5am-7am Inspiring sunrise.  Beautiful water.  You realize you have a pretty great life.

So you see, 20 great hours of paddling and only 4 horrifying ones.  Plan accordingly. 

We will be in touch again with at least one final dispatch next week.  Keep your fingers crossed with us for continued good weather and long range forecasts.  Let us know if you have additional questions.


PS:  Chris Luedke has added some more great videos to his rock star 340Paddler channel on YouTube.  Check them out here:


If you haven't spent time on this channel, dig in.  Tons of great information and photos.  Thanks, Chris!

« Last Edit: 07/25/17 at 21:06:14 by N/A »  
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Reply #11 - 08/01/17 at 19:32:36
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #7

One Week...

Hey!  One WEEK.

We are excited to greet you at the mandatory safety meeting Monday night.  Please check in between 1pm and 6pm at the Reardon Center adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn. 

The folks that usually have a dinner for sale downstairs are opting not to do that this year.  Instead, the hotel restaurant upstairs is going to try to keep up with dinner demand.  They have limited seating but they are offering bag dinners that you can carry downstairs to the ballrooms if that is of interest to you.  They will also have drinks and beer available upstairs.

Downstairs at registration there will be music and some sponsors set up.  Stop and say hi and thank them for helping put this race on!

Weather Report:

Now that we can say there's less than a week to the start, we get a glimpse into what the weather might hold for us.  Current forecasts as of this post (8/1) look like we might have some rain and cool-ish temperatures. 

The race will start on time, even in rain.  If there is lightning, start will be delayed until lightning is out of the area. 

What would rain mean for you race?  Well, it means less worry about sunscreen and more worry about other stuff. 


In the past, with rain events during the 340, our teams see more boats needing help at night due to shivering and cold.  Even with lows forecasts to be an otherwise comfortable 66 degrees, your body is very taxed and calorie depleted.  Understanding how your body regulates temperature will help you anticipate and avoid problems.

We are among the best in the mammal department at regulating our body temperature.  It's what allowed your ancestors to chase prey across the savannah for dozens of miles.  The much faster animal would eventually overheat and just be standing there, panting, when your distant cousin, cooled by sweat, strolled up and ended the hunt. 

We do a pretty good job of staying warm as well.  How we do it was illustrated to me in my 7th grad science class.  We had a flask of water and a thermometer and some greasy potato chips.  We lit a chip on fire and held it under the flask.  Sure enough, the temperature went up and we calculated the calories it took to raise that temperature.  I finally understood the connection of food as fuel.  Literal fuel that we literally burn to keep ourselves at 98 degrees. 

If our body is running low on calories and is really cold, it will kick things up a notch and force some shivering.  Shivering is your body forcing you to get some exercise that you are otherwise unwilling to do. 

So, if during the race you start to feel a shiver coming on, beat your body to the punch and paddle harder.  Better to paddle harder and generate some heat than to shiver and go nowhere and be miserable in your boat. 

And food intake is the bedrock of all this.  Without the food coming in and your body properly converting it to usable energy, you won't be able to increase your heart rate and regulate temperature. 

Clothing is also something to start thinking about.  In previous rain events, folks find that the wicking shirts and lightweight shorts that got them through the hot afternoon are now woefully bad at retaining heat when they need it. 

For the temperatures we'll be seeing, a lightweight windbreaker worn under your pfd is usually plenty to trap the heat you will be generating if paddling.  Rain pants are also a good idea to have aboard the boat. 

Just a reminder that a PFD is required to be worn at all times while on the water during this race.  No exceptions.  No excuses.  A good PFD will also help you stay warm.

You should also be prepared, in case of an actual thunderstorm, to pull over anywhere and pitch a simple camp until conditions improve.  This is a personal choice on what to bring.  Some folks bring a small tarp and just roll up in it, essentially wearing it like a tortilla.  Others bring a small tent to go along with the tarp.  This is easy enough if you have a ground crew present with all the options in the van for you to pick and choose for each stretch of river.  Tougher if you are unsupported.  Unsupported paddlers should, at minimum, carry along a small tarp if cool rain is expected. 

Please try, when making a temporary camp along shore, to have your boat be visible from the river to a safety boat moving downstream.  Pulling your boat into the treeline or stashing it behind a wing dike makes it tough on us to see you and check on your status. 

Making sure your cell phone is in a water proof case is also pretty important.  This is your main means of calling us or your ground crew if you need picked up.  Your secondary means would be to flag down another paddler and ask them to call for you. 

Of course, rain is not all negative.  It's easier to get warm when it's 66 degrees than it is to cool down when it's 99.  All endurance athletes will tell you that their best performances have come when the temperatures were what we would consider chilly.  Marathon runners love to run when it's 45 degrees.  It's an optimal temperature for sustained output.  So this cooler week ahead with some showers will energize many folks and will result in some fast finishes if delays are minimal. 

Volunteers and Storms:

We have the most amazing volunteers and they do their best to support you in every way.  Please note that if there is severe weather, they are under instructions to seek the best shelter for the situation.  That may mean their car.  They will be watching the checkpoint and monitoring activity but it may be from the safety of a vehicle during a severe weather event.  Safety boats will be hunkered down as well. Storm is defined for our purposes as high winds or lightning or both.  Simply raining is not a storm and safety boats are capable of operating in rain just fine. 

The expectation for you is that you would behave precisely as you would if this was just you on a training run and the weather turned bad.  Forget that it's a race, what would you do on a 50 mile paddle if a storm popped up?  MOST of us would get off the river and wait for conditions to improve.  We'd congratulate ourselves on having the gear we needed to wait it out.  We'd contact our family and let them know we are fine and we'd wait.  As a race staff, we refer to this as Sheltering In Place and that's exactly what we have our safety boats do.   

Last year a brief but intense storm popped up near Waverly in the late afternoon of the first day.  Most paddlers and all safety boats scooted to shore before the wind and lightning hit.  But many paddlers just tried to brave the whitecaps and wind.  This rarely is a good use of energy on behalf of the paddler and can end a race with a broken boat or missing gear or worse.  After the storm passed we got everyone put back together for the most part but a few people did not get back on the river after the storm due to damaged boats that got run into the rocks by the wind.

I had tied up about 10 miles upstream of Waverly before the rain and wind started.  Reaper was tied across the river from me.  We were remarking on the radio about several kayaks that were not pulling off and we hoped they would in time.  A few minutes later the rain was so heavy we could no longer see each other across the river.  And the wind was so strong that the entire river was whitecaps. 

Those that were there last year remember that this only lasted about 20 minutes and then reverted to a simple rain that lasted another 20.  Then it was sunshine and rainbows.   We ask that you play it safe and don't let the race adrenaline make you do stupid stuff you would never otherwise do if paddling when a storm emerges.  Pull over.  Assess the storm.  Wait for the worst to end.  Move on when safe.

This isn't rocket science.  Humans have been paddling this river in canoes for THOUSANDS of YEARS.  And sometimes it rained.

Some questions we've had this week:

Can I use glow sticks for nav lights?

No.  They don't do the job.  Real lights can be seen for a mile.  Glow sticks are barely good for 50 feet.  Get some real lights.   Here's a link to the most commonly used.  http://a.co/cCFurGf

You need red and green on your bow and white on your stern. 

Do we have to stop at Franklin Island or Cooper's Landing?

Nope.  Actually, you don't have to stop anywhere.  You do have to check in via text when you pass these spots:

Jefferson City

Aside from these mandatory check ins, you're on your own itinerary.  There are some great boat ramps to stop and rest in between like Miami, Franklin Island, Cooper's Landing and Washington.  (and many more ramps) but these are not check ins or required stops.

When should I call a safety boat?

This is a complicated question.  Certainly if you want to get picked up between boat ramps for safety reasons and end your race, call the safety boat dispatch.  If you are safely capable of making it the next ramp, that's the best solution. 

Obviously if there is a medical problem of a severe nature you should call 911 first, then a safety boat.  Often we can coordinate with 911 and get to the person first and meet an ambulance at the nearest boat ramp.  But this is very rare. 

Most common reason for a call is that there is a minor injury (shoulder, elbow) that is not allowing the paddler to get to the next ramp.  Or, a paddler is sick with stomach issues and cramping.  Heat issues are also common. 

If you or your ground crew ever need to call a safety boat, it's important we have as many details as possible.  This is pretty easy if it's you calling about you.  Where are you, which side of the river, what color is your boat, are you ok, are there other paddlers with you, etc.  But sometimes, we get calls ABOUT another paddler from a paddler. 

"Hey, I saw this guy I just passed.  I said hi but he didn't respond.  He looked really tired.  It was between Glasgow and Franklin Island about 2 hours ago.  I didn't have a signal when I passed him so I'm calling now.  His boat was white, his boat number had a 4 in it I think."

A few comments.  First, we appreciate you looking after your fellow paddler.  Ideally, you would have remained nearby and made sure he was ok.  Do you have enough water?  Do you know where your next stop is?  Do you want to paddle together? 

If he responds and says I'm ok, got what I need, headed to Franklin Island, ground crew is waiting, etc.  Great!  Note his boat number and let the team know at Franklin Island when you arrive about where he was and when we should expect him. 

This race relies on all of us looking out for one another.  It also relies on a very efficient use of our safety boats.  Anything you can do to assess a situation is very helpful.  Exact location, boat number, boat color, etc.  And staying with a paddler in trouble is absolutely the best thing you can do.  Some of the best stories from this race are from grateful paddlers who were helped along mentally and emotionally and physically, just from another paddler hanging with them the last few miles to a ramp. 

My boat color/ground crew captain, etc. has changed.  Who do I contact?

Yes, please send these changes to scott@rivermiles.com  Having this info correct will speed up your registration.  We will be finalizing this data on Thursday.  Please have sent in by then.

What time is the awards ceremony/Do we have to wait for awards?

The ceremony starts at 7pm Friday at the finish line.  There will still be paddlers out on the water at this time.  You do not have to attend.  If you'd like to leave before the awards, talk to someone at the merchandise table about getting your medal or trophy early.

Welp, barring any major announcements or disasters, this will be the final official dispatch of 2017.  Any minor announcements will be made via the forum at www.rivermiles.com or the facebook group page. 

We are all excited to meet you on Monday and put faces to the names.  We look forward to spending all next week on the beautiful Missouri River with everyone.  We will have many ups and downs that week with but the highs will far outpace the lows as we all make our way to the big reunion at St. Charles. 

Let us know what questions you have over the coming week. 

Prayers for good weather and a safe race for everyone!


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Reply #12 - 08/01/17 at 21:19:54
General Buck   Ex Member

Thanks for all the dispatches. This will be my first and I am super excited about this adventure and meeting new friends and fellow paddlers! Thanks to everyone for all the great advice. We have 4 coming from our little town in south Mississippi and 1 lady from another. Susan Jordan and Wulf Hirschfield did the race last year so we have 2 veterans and 3 newcomers rolling in from Mississippi! Looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can and making a lot of great memories! Linwood Buckalew
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Reply #13 - 08/02/17 at 15:42:32
Notorious D.A.D.   Ex Member

Hey Scott.  Did you guys finalize the number for safety boat dispatch yet? 

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see it in the dispatches
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Reply #14 - 08/02/17 at 18:51:23
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

It will be printed on your safety card.  913-231-2688
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Reply #15 - 08/02/17 at 19:34:21
Notorious D.A.D.   Ex Member

Thanks Scott, 

I'm just trying to get ahead of things and furnish some info to my virtual ground crew ahead of time.

Appreciate the quick response!

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