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**2018 Official Dispatches** (Read 37554 times)
05/01/18 at 18:22:28
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #1

Welcome to the 13th Annual Missouri American Water MR340!

Time to start the dispatches!  We will send a couple of these each month leading up to the big dance.  These are designed to help get your minor details sorted and to help you game out some ideas to improve your chances at finishing. 

This race is HARD.  Getting mentally and physically prepared can never start too soon.  These dispatches will help you feel more at ease and more on top of your prep.  They will also answer questions you didn't know you had and will inspire other questions which you are welcome to ask us!

For Dispatch #1, let's focus on the basics.

DATES: July 23-27, 2018

Mandatory Check In and Safety Meeting:

Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas
Monday, July 23, 2018

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.  It's a good time to get some last minute questions clarified and to talk to the many veteran racers in attendance. 


Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Kaw Point Park
Solo Start is 7am
Everything else, 8am

Parking the morning of the race is always 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.  I will be highlighting several of these in upcoming dispatches.  But feel free to start early.  Here's a link to his channel.  Start anywhere.  Tons of great stuff.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTAGGN9ArvdwcofYeM1ZWQ

We are all grateful to Chris for putting this together.  Fantastic resource that has helped a bunch of folks.

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:


There is no substitute for being in your boat and learning what works and what doesn't.  Hop in and join a race before the 340 if you can make it work. 

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

We usually don't talk about these until the 2nd or 3rd dispatches but we're getting a lot of questions about whether or not they will be the same as previous years.  That is the plan.  It's possible (but unlikely) something could change geographically but time wise, it will be consistent. 

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, July 24.   
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

Average speeds are based on tandem start time of 8am.  Solos start an hour early and so have 89 hours to finish an 88 hour race.  Which means we have no sympathy for you missing a cutoff time by even a minute.  Because you actually missed it by an hour and a minute. 

It sounds heartless to have cutoff times but it's really the only way to do a race like this.  At our most stretched, we'll have a boat finishing in St. Charles while the last place boat is 195 miles back.  That's a lot of water for our volunteers to cover.  Without cutoff times that would probably be more like 250 miles between 1st and last place.  This is not billed as a camping trip or a float trip.  It is a very, very difficult race.  1/4 of entrants won't show up.  Of those that do show up, 1/3 will not finish. 

Not making a cutoff time is actually rare.  These are pretty generous for a race.  But they do force dropouts because folks will make a cutoff time with a few minutes to spare, but then linger at a checkpoint until making the next cutoff time is almost impossible. So they drop out. 

It is psychologically tough to be at the back of the race with nobody in sight ahead of you.  It's tough to arrive at a checkpoint and all the racers are gone except a few who are loading their boats onto their cars.  The energy is high among the pods of racers who are together and motivate each other when times get difficult.  So as you plan your strategy, best to think not in terms of barely sliding in to each checkpoint before the cutoff.  Rather, plan a strategy that banks up some time so you're not against the clock constantly.  We will talk about how to do this in a future dispatch. 

Spoiler alert:  There is no magic potion.  It's all about staying in the boat and taking advantage of those first 24 hours of the race.  A successful finish is born in those first 24 hours.  Have a good 24 hours and you can deal with almost anything in the next 48.  Come up short in the first 24 and you'll be dodging race ending sharks all the way to St. Charles. 

So bust out the maps and plan out some different goals.  You can probably add about 2.5 mph to your flat water paddling speed to get a good idea of your river mph.  I'm talking about your sustainable flat water speed over hours.  Not your sprint to the ramp because it's raining speed.  So if you're able to paddle at the lake all day at 4mph, you can probably count on that being about 6.5 mph on the river (depending on wind)  That's a 52 hour finish if you never stopped paddling.  But that leaves you 36 hours of cushion for all sorts of contingencies.

For the gal or guy that wants to finish, it's really not about a fast speed.  It's about hours and hours at a sustainable cruising speed.  Time makes up for a lot.  If you're willing to earn that iron butt award and stay in the boat you'll find yourself passing lots of "fast" paddlers in "fast" boats that are parked at checkpoints recovering. 

All the volunteers, partners and staff are pumped for this race!  We know you are too.  For many of us, it's what we think about before we fall asleep every night.  Or what we think about in a boring meeting at work.  It's an amazing adventure for one week of the year and our favorite daydream for the other 51 weeks.  We're glad you're going to be out there with us for the suffering and the misery and the beauty. 

More to come soon.  In the interim...

Note the dates and times for the meeting and start.

Read the book and watch the videos.

Check the roster and get your boat numbers and partners squared away.

Enter a short race somewhere or do some paddling to get your rigging sorted.

If you just can't wait until next time you can check out the 2017 dispatches and get a preview of what's coming. 

Let me know if you have any questions.
« Last Edit: 11/07/22 at 09:14:34 by N/A »  
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Reply #1 - 05/01/18 at 20:28:29
Lildoc   Ex Member

ok NOW it's real!!!
Thanks Scott!
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Reply #2 - 05/03/18 at 04:43:20
KY Paddler   Ex Member

Wow, the First Dispatch brings it home.  Thanks Scott.  And let me start early with a thanks to all of the Safety Boat crews and volunteers.  Couldn't do it without you. Wink
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Reply #3 - 05/20/18 at 14:56:27
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #2

Please review Dispatch #1 for important dates and times. 

Also, please review your roster entry here: http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1512597107 ;

Make sure you have a valid boat number.  Make sure your partner or partners or get signed up asap.

If you are unable to race for any reason it is not necessary to let us know.  We will leave you on the roster until the mandatory pre-race safety meeting where we determine who actually has shown up. 

For this Dispatch, we are focusing on some basic Missouri River paddling info for those who have not yet had the experience or are relatively new to the race.

Moving water is very different from the lake or bay training you may have done.  It's our hope that you will get a chance to get out on the river prior to the race.  For those who are travelling from far away, we know that this is not always possible. 


Paddling with current is fun and makes the miles go by.  It does require a bit more anticipation and attention.  You never want you or your boat to be caught between moving water and a fixed object.  Fixed objects in the Missouri River include bridges, rock dikes, navigation buoys, downed trees and other random structures.  When approaching any object, give yourself plenty of time and room to steer clear.  It's never a good idea to be close to any of these things as sudden shifting currents can push or pull you into the object at the last second.

When landing your boat at a ramp or riprap (rock covered shoreline) or a sandbar in current it's important to pass the spot you want to land and then approach it from downstream.  This gives you control of the speed of approach and ensures you will not be in a position to have the current controlling you. 

On a windy day the current can affect you a few different ways.  If the wind is at your back, that's great!  You'll gain speed.  But because you're moving with the wind it can feel like there is no breeze at all and you'll feel quite hot.  Then the river bends the other way and you can have a stiff breeze in your face but you'll slow down.  And if the wind is very strong and moving against the current, the water can stack up and form some pretty formidable waves if the winds are sustained.  For lake and bay paddlers, you already know what this looks like.  Every paddler is required to wear a PFD and all paddlers should have a means of bailing water from your canoe or kayak and should also have experience with self rescue if your find yourself out of the boat. 

Self rescue can be practiced on a nice calm day in your favorite flatwater lake.  Go to a shallow, sandy spot and exit your boat.  Somewhere that you can stand up if needed.  Now pretend you can't touch and try to get back into your flooded canoe or kayak.  This is a good skill for any paddler to master.

All of this will become apparent to you flatwater paddlers after you've been out there an hour.  If anything, you'll be wishing the current was faster.  When you're out there in it, there is little sense that the water is moving at all until you look at shore and see it whipping by. 

Navigation Markers

The river has a fairly thorough system of navigation/channel markers built for the barge industry to avoid running aground.  They can also be handy for paddlers looking to stay in the fast water OR looking to get out of the channel so a barge can pass.  Here's a great MR340 Paddler video to explain more.


And to go along with navigation, here's the Chris Luedke video on buoys.  https://youtu.be/C8xXHlddFE4

Barges and Sand Dredges

Speaking of barges, you will see them out there for sure.  Some are doing a short run from a sand dredge over to shore and back.  Others may be moving grain from Omaha to the Gulf of Mexico for transport all over the world.  Our job is to stay out of their way.  Which isn't so hard if you understand the navigation channel (see above video) and can make sure you're not in the channel when the barge passes. 

It's also important to be predictable.  Ever drive down the road and watch a squirrel go left, then right, then left, then right?  Get a plan and demonstrably execute it so the captain knows your intentions.

Chris Luedke's MR340 Paddler Channel has an excellent video to explain Barge and Dredge cautions.


Barges at night

Sometimes a towboat will be pushing barges at night to keep a schedule.  This is more likely to be a boat pushing upstream as they have more control.  A downstream boat is more likely to pull over at night but not always. 

Either way, the rules are the same as daylight.  Be decisive and get out of the channel.  We've met with a towboat captain who will likely be out there somewhere that week.  We explained that there was confusion last year when he would shine his light to where he hoped the paddlers would go.  Some thought he was shining it where he intended to go and so they went the other way.  He is more likely this year to shine his light for the channel marker where he is headed. 

We will be communicating with the tow captains and sharing that information via text with paddlers and ground crews regarding barge plans for the day and night.  Safety boats will also have a good idea of the towboat itineraries for the day and night.  If conditions allow, we might also have a safety boat out in front of a barge clearing a path for him and letting paddlers know which way to go. 

Our relationship with the industry is quite good and they support the event.  We support their hard work in moving goods up and down the inland waterways.  With good communication and awareness, it's a very minor challenge that week and we don't anticipate you'll have any problems.

Storms On The River

Seems like we always get a little rain and a little lightning.  Some years we get a big storm that becomes everyone's favorite story to tell.  But with the race course being so long and the racers so spread out over miles and miles, no two people will experience the same weather or storm.  The responsibility is on you and your ground crew (physical or virtual) to know the weather that is ahead, to check radar and to have aboard your boat whatever you would need to survive a storm layover of hours.

Another good Luedke video, this one on storms...  https://youtu.be/JAWO-1sycnA

Ground Crews (Virtual and Physical)

All boats must have a ground crew that is responsible for knowing where they are and when they are expected to arrive.  This can be either a physically present ground crew that helps you with food and supplies or a virtual ground crew that is back at home keeping tabs on you via text message.

A physical ground crew is obvious.  They wave to you at the start and then they drive to the next place you tell them to meet you.  So let's say you agreed to meet at Napoleon for a quick stop and to get liquids and food.  You told them you thought you'd be there at noon.  Well, a storm comes along and you pull over a for awhile and now it looks like you may not get there until 2pm.  You might turn on your phone and send a quick text so they don't worry.  Then they see you at 2pm where you develop a new plan.  You will be meet them at Waverly at 8pm.  And so on all the way to St. Charles.  If you're ever significantly late to a rendezvous and they don't hear from you, they then would call our safety number and let us know that you left Point A at this time and were expected at Point B by this time and we would send a safety boat to look. 

With a virtual ground crew, it's a similar setup.  When you arrive at a planned location you would send them a text letting them know you made it and where you plan to go next.  Their job is to track you via these text messages and make sure they are hearing from you on a consistent basis.  If you go dark on them they would call us with where they last heard from you and where you were headed. 

Checking in at Checkpoints

Our safety system depends on paddlers checking in and out of required checkpoints.  This is done via text message. There are even some apps developed by RaceOwl now that will help make sending this text very simple.  RaceOwl is the tracking service we use for the MR340. 

When you reach or pass a checkpoint, you activate your phone and send the text.  With the RaceOwl and Jon Marble apps, this is as easy as choosing the checkpoint from a drop down menu, hitting IN or OUT and then send.  The text is then automatically sent to RaceOwl and your progress is tracked in the system.  When a checkpoint closes, we look to see who HAS NOT checked in and then we start calling their ground crews for information.  This safety plan has worked very well over the years.  Checking in is your responsibility and is essential.  If your phone dies or you don't have a signal, talk to a safety boat at the checkpoint or any of our yellow clad volunteers.  We will help!  Or ask another paddler or ground crew if you can use their phone. 

If you withdraw from the race at a checkpoint you must also notify us via text.  The apps have this option or you can send a regular text to the RaceOwl number to include your boat number and DNF (did not finish). 

We will go into more details regarding the process for these texts as the race grows closer.  We just want you to have some clarity on how it works.


We partner with many charities and non profits who make the 340 possible!  Thanks to www.ladsurfski.com and www.llamaracks.com we are raffling an Epic V7 and two Llama Racks to 3 lucky winners.  Limited to the first 300 tickets.  More information here: Quote Modify Remove http://rivermiles.com/product/raffle-ticket-epic-v7-surfski/

Thanks to Chris Luedke for all his hard work on the MR340 Paddler Channel.  Get a head start on future dispatches by visiting and viewing his channel often!


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Reply #4 - 06/03/18 at 18:55:04
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #3

Hopefully you've also had a chance to watch some of the Chris Luedke videos.   Add this one to your list:  It describes the start at Kaw Point.  https://youtu.be/usdNJPGIYhc

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: 


Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, July 24.   
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 12 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.

I know some of you have been stressing about the cutoff times.  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.  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.

Feeling overwhelmed? 

Don't!  Everything you're stressing about or worrying about will be fine.  The things you think you won't be able to do will come easily while the things you aren't worrying about will surprise you and become challenges.  It's all part of this experience and this community of paddlers.  We all help each other.  We all cheer each other.  We all work together to get everyone down the river to St. Charles.  It will be one of the toughest things you do and also the most valued. 

We all suffer from an un-diagnosed homesickness for that feeling of cooperation and community which has sadly evaporated.  We are wired for this cooperation by tens of thousands of years of working together in small groups and getting through each day making sure everyone was safe and well.  Out there you will feel that familiar feeling, like you're part of a group with a shared goal.  It feels good.  If you're lucky, it seeps into the rest of your non-racing life a bit!

It's normal to feel anxious and to worry about the race.  Even the multi year veterans get nervous.  Even the race staff gets nervous!  It's a big undertaking for all of us!  Just know that we are all there pitching in to help and nobody gets laughed at or yelled at. 

Instead of the disaster you imagine happening to you at the starting line or somewhere down the river, picture a beautiful night with a full moon.  You're paddling among several other boats filled with friendly people.  Your ground crew is resting at the next checkpoint and ready for you.  St. Charles is getting closer every second. 

We'll do it!

More to come soon.

Until then, let me know what questions you have.

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Reply #5 - 06/15/18 at 13:22:02
Tbone13   Ex Member

WHat a great way to spend a Friday at work Grin; reading MR340 Dispatches and watching Chris Luedke videos. Thank you for all the incredibly great info...Gotta go, boss is coming.
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Reply #6 - 06/22/18 at 00:41:04
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #4

About this time of year the speculation begins about what kind of river we will have out there during the race.  Will it be high or low?  There is no crystal ball... but there are many data points already set that give us some answers.

First, I can tell you that we will NOT have a low water year.  As much as I always hope and pray for low water, it ain't happening this year.  How do we know?  Well, a large portion of our flow comes from the accumulated mountain snowpack in the Rockies.  And this was a big season for snow in our basin.  140% of normal snowfall.  So we've got a lot of water stored in the reservoirs up in the Dakotas that is eventually coming our way.  This is metered out over time to try to minimize high water, but with that much snow, they have to dump more water than normal.  A normal year might see them dumping 30,000cfs (cubic feet per second) but this year they are having to dump closer to 50,000.  That extra 20,000 pretty much guarantees a high water year.

In addition to this we have recently had some heavy rains in Iowa and Nebraska that have filled some lakes in those states and also a big one in Kansas.  Tuttle Creek in Kansas is a large lake that can hold a bunch of runoff.  It has been at pretty normal levels until this rain.  It will hold an extra 7 feet or so by the time it crests and all that water will then be let out.  That will add another foot to the river leading up to the race.

So if you're worried about low water, don't be.  But if you're hoping to rest on sandbars for your catnap you may be out of luck.

The other downside of a high water baseline is that it makes us more susceptible to a flood delay if we get a significant rainstorm in the days before the race.  We have less wiggle room to play with so be careful what you wish for.  You've got your high water race.  Now we need reasonably dry conditions between now and then to create some space for us to have the race.

Racers like high water because it of course will move them faster towards their goal.  Might mean an extra half mile an hour which can really add up!  But it also means you need to be more aware of your speed as you approach bridges, landings, etc.  And it may mean some of your landings require a little more work to get to that ramp as you approach from downstream.  But all in all, most veteran racers will be smiling about the water levels.  Unless we flood.

Here's a list of gauges with forecast levels that can be handy in monitoring river levels for planning training runs, etc. 


I've included most gauges starting at Yankton, SD to give you a sense of how a large influx of water can work it work its way down the river.  It takes 5 days for us to feel a change at Yankton.  3 days for us to feel a change from Tuttle Creek up the Kansas River. 

If you REALLY want to geek out, here's link to a map with a collection of dozens of gauges in the Missouri River Basin.  This will give you an understanding of how HUGE the basin is and how every drop of water that falls on that expanse tries to find its way to St. Charles just like you.  So when you watch the weather and you see it raining in Wyoming, you'll feel it.  Welcome to my nightmare. 


ON to more cheerful stuff. 

We've covered much ground in the previous dispatches.  By now you've checked the roster http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1512597107 and verified that your boat number is valid and that your partner(s) are all signed up.  You've grown accustomed to the soothing, dulcid tones of Chris Luedke and his great videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTAGGN9ArvdwcofYeM1ZWQ/videos ;

You've read the book  http://a.co/ixvOTUG

You've been working out, building endurance and core strength.  You've spent hours in your boat at the Hump Day 5k or the many other paddling opportunities state wide you can find here: http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1419361976

You've got a feel for what speed and stroke rate you are able to sustain comfortably.  (with all your gear)  You've got a good PFD that you will wear full time during the race. 

You've got a ground crew, either physically present during the race or virtual at home with whom you will check in on a regular basis.  You've had actual conversations with this person so they understand what you're doing and what is expected of them. 

You've got a kick-butt LED flashlight that you can keep in your cockpit at night for use as needed.

You've got navigation lights mounted to your boat.  Here's some if you're looking: http://a.co/bhPMKSV ; You need a red, a green and white one.  These are simple to use.  Turn them on night one and forget them.  Last for 100 hours.  Place some black tape on any portion of the light that is shining at YOU in the cockpit.  Including the white light on back of the boat.  It will shine on your paddle and hurt your night vision.  You just need the portions of the light that shine away from you to be uncovered.

You've got two hats.

You've got two sunglasses.

You've downloaded to your phone one or two of the supercool raceowl.com phone apps.  Like the MR340 Checkpoint Texter (free) which makes checking in and out at a checkpoint super easy.  Or the free RaceOwl tracker for Android or Apple which will allow you to be tracked live at www.raceowl.com so that your friends can watch.  Or the MR340 Pro Paddler App (a few bucks) that does everything the raceowl app does but also has a fantastic map of the river so that you will see where the channel is. 

Make sure your physical ground crew has the texter app so they can easily text you in and out at the ramp.  You should have it to. 

If you've got facebook, you've requested membership in the MR340 group for great information and networking! 

You by now surely know where and when the mandatory sign in (July 23, 1-6pm Hilton Garden Inn, 530 Minnesota Ave, Kansas City, KS) and the mandatory safety meeting (July 23, 7pm, same place) are being held.  Good for you!

You've found out there's something called "body lube" and you've tried it.

You've figured out how to pee in your boat.  For guys, this is a gatorade bottle.  For women, there are many approaches, including this http://a.co/f4xTsym which makes a gatorade bottle possible.

You've figured out what food works for you and you won't try something new during the race.

Same with drinks.

You've figured out how to use bicycle drink tube technology on a boat.  So you can keep paddling while taking sips.


You've been paddling enough that your hands are getting calloused in the proper places. 

You've got some light colored, wicking material, long sleeve shirts and tights to keep yourself protected head to toe from the sun and to help you stay cool.

You and your ground crew will have some cash so that you can buy some food and drinks from the many non-profit groups that will be set up at checkpoints so that you can eat and drink and they can keep their operation going!  (Boy scout troops, civic groups, etc)


We couldn't do this race without our enormous safety boat presence!  We will have 19 safety boats on the water full time during the race.  You will see about 10 of these at the staring line.  The rest are staged downstream.  At the longest span of coverage, we have racers stretching from Lisbon Bottoms to the finish line.  About 190 miles for these boats to cover.  So you're always leaving a checkpoint with a safety boat stationed and heading towards another checkpoint with a safety boat stationed.  You'll also see them between checkpoints as they too are traveling checkpoint to checkpoint and making their way to St. Charles. 

Their role is to be a resource to you should you need to be picked up somewhere between boat ramps.

Example:  Your boat is damaged and can't safely make the next boat ramp.  You call the safety boat dispatch number on your waterproof safety card (issued at the safety meeting) and the dispatcher will arrange for the nearest upstream boat to come down to you.  That boat will then load you up and take you to the nearest downstream ramp where your ground crew should be waiting.

The safety boats can also be a resource at checkpoint if you need to borrow a phone or charge a phone.

As they pass you on the water they might give you a "thumbs up" to verify that you are OK.  They are looking for you to return the thumbs up.  If you need them you should wave your arms over your head and they will come over. 

Our safety boats cannot operate in dangerous conditions like storms or fog.  So all paddlers must be prepared to shelter in place for several hours if needed in the event of this situation.  If you need a safety boat during a storm or fog, one will be there as soon as possible after the weather has improved.  If it is a life threatening emergency, please indicate this and we can assist 911 dispatchers getting to you by water or land.  But if it's a non emergency, be prepared to wait for safe weather. 

Obviously, the safety boat dispatch number is for priority calls about paddlers.  It is not for general information about what place you are in or who won the Cardinals game.  This phone can get very busy sometimes and we need to keep the line open.  But if you need picked up or if you're worried about a tardy paddler, give us a call!

Safety boats are instructed to check on ANY BOAT that is pulled off to the side, beached, etc.  This is to verify that the paddler is ok.  99.9% of the time they are just up in the trees taking care of business.  But we have to confirm that there is not an abandoned boat or injured party.  Typically, this goes as follows.  Safety boat cruising downstream at 7-8 mph.  spots a boat pulled up onshore, slowly drifts towards this parked boat, hovers in the water nearby and before deciding to land and investigate, the paddler emerges from the trees and waves and we wave back and go on our way. 

Let's say nobody emerges from bushes.  We would then land our boat.  We'd look up your boat number and cross check on our roster to see your name.  We'd yell your name.  If no answer we would call your cell phone.  Still no answer we would call your ground crew phone.  We'd hopefully hear that you're fine but if they haven't heard from you, we'd start searching in the vicinity of your boat to see if you're there somewhere, asleep, etc. 

Only one time have events gone beyond this.  And in this instance a severely dehydrated paddler had walked away from his boat believing he had reached the finish line (he hadn't) and was walking to his hotel.  Luckily, our safety boat team found him laying down in a cornfield after an hour of searching.  This could have ended badly.  This is why we always check on every boat.

We also like to believe that every canoe or kayak out there is a safety boat as well.  And that we are all looking out for one another.  We get calls every year from paddlers saying

"Hey, I'm with a guy and he isn't doing very well.  We're about 8 miles above Glasgow and pulled over on river left.  Could maybe someone come and help him?  I think he wants to be picked up."

This is an example of the spirit that's out there.  A paddler stopping their race to look after someone until help arrives.  This is essential to our safety plan.  That a paddler would stay with a struggling person until help arrives.  This could include just paddling alongside and talking to them as you make your way to a checkpoint.  Sharing some water if they've run out, etc. 

Please, if possible, stay with the paddler.  If someone is wobbly enough that you would call us about them, then they are in a precarious enough situation that someone needs to stay with them.  It's hard on us to get a call that says,

"Hey, I passed a guy that was a real mess.  He was lethargic and could barely paddle.  He couldn't answer when I asked if he was ok.  You guys should really go check on him.  He's about 3 miles behind me somewhere."

That's not a responsible paddler.  And we rarely get a call like that.

Another thing that a responsible paddler does is to be constantly assessing her own health out there.  If you think you're starting to spiral, the time to act is 5 minutes ago.  Flag down another racer and ask if they'll stay with for a couple miles while you try to drink or eat.  If you think it's heat related, try to find some safe, shallow, still water where you can safely sit and let the water cool you down.  Determine if you can safely make it to the next checkpoint.  If not, call us to be picked up BEFORE it becomes a medical situation.  We just need your approximate mile marker, boat color and which side of the river you're on.  We will be there as quickly as possible!

Your Pertinent Info

In the next week or so you'll be receiving an email from us, customized with all the info you gave us at registration.  Boat number, phone numbers, ground crew name and number, etc.  We are sending this to verify that it is still accurate and to save you time at the sign in so you don't have to make the changes there.  We will post here on the forum and on facebook when this email has been sent.  Anything we can get done before Monday, July 23rd is good for everyone!

Keep your questions coming to scott@rivermiles.com

We will see you in about a month!


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Reply #7 - 07/01/18 at 21:53:56
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #5

It's July!

Preparations are moving right along from the race team.  Safety teams are forming, volunteers are signing up, cities along the river are getting ready for you!

Let's talk about some of those checkpoints and way stations where you'll be stopping for supplies.

LEXINGTONFirst official checkpoint (MM317)  This means you HAVE to check in via one of the apps like Raceowl or MR340 Checkpoint Texter.  Both are free apps.  And both work for Apple and Android.  Pick one now and start playing with it to familiarize yourself with how to text in.  Make sure your physical ground crew has one of these apps so they can text you in.  That way if you are paddling by the checkpoint and don't want to stop, you can make verbal contact with them and they can do it. 

Lexington will have a concession run by the Lexington Boy Scout Troop.  They will be selling burgers, dogs, chips and drinks. 

There are toilets in the park. 

The park will be PACKED.  There are two boat ramps, side by side.  The downstream one is the larger, easier ramp to use.  We will have volunteers at this ramp to keep the waterline clear.  When you land, be ready to get your boat up and out of the way so they folks behind you can land.  This will be standard procedure at every ramp.  But Lexington will be the most crowded.

For this reason, a lot of teams skip Lexington.  That's fine.  But remember, you HAVE to check in on your phone there.  So either drop your paddle and get your phone out of the dry box and do it as you drift by OR make sure your ground crew does it when they see you pass. 

TIP:  Don't assume your ground crew can see you from across the river.  It's really hard to know what boat is what from a hundred yards away.  Come in close enough to make verbal contact with them. 

Other ramps people use in order to skip Lexington:  Napoleon, Ft. Osage, Cooley Lake Access. 

WAVERLY:  (OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT)  (MM295) Waverly has two ramps as well but these are about 150 yards apart and in two different parks.  Ramp 1 is upstream of the bridge.  This ramp will have the Waverly Scouts selling food and drinks.  It has toilets.  There is a bathroom at the top of the hill with running water if you're unsupported and looking to refill.  The local Stream Team headed up by river expert Robin Kalthoff will be working the ramp to keep it clear. 

There is a railroad running right through the heart of this park!  PLEASE be careful with children.  There is no crossing guard.  Trains just honk and blow through very fast. 

Ramp 2 is just downstream of the bridge.  There will also be toilets there.  There will NOT be food sold there is my understanding.  This ramp is generally less crowded and so may be a better choice for you if you have a ground crew and don't need to buy food.  However, it can get crowded and we'll need to keep it clear for paddlers to land. 

Strategy Tip:  Do NOT plan to sleep at Waverly.  You haven't paddled far enough yet.  It is too noisy (trains) to sleep and when you wake up in the morning the park will be empty and the next nearest racer will have a 4 hour lead on you.  The river will be high and fast and you should stop only briefly at Waverly and then try to make Hills Island or Miami.

HILLS ISLAND:  (MM281) With the water high, Hills Island will be smaller than most years but there will be room to take a break.  This sandbar is 12 miles downstream from Waverly and about 19 miles upstream of Miami.  So if you are trying for Miami but feel like you need a break, Hills Island is your place.  Cars cannot get here so you're on your own but we will have a safety boat stationed here should you have any urgent needs or questions.

MIAMI: WAY STATION  (MM263) Miami is not a required checkpoint and there is no need to check in there.  BUT it is a perfect spot on day 1 (105 miles from KC)  where lots of folks decide to get off the river and try to sleep.  The city of Miami turns their little park into a true oasis for paddlers and serves food all night long.  This is a big fundraiser for them and they use the money to fund a city project every year. 

Parking, just like at Lexington and Waverly, will be TIGHT.  Miami may be the tightest.  You should be prepared at every checkpoint to walk quite a way from your car to the ramp.  Have your ground crew get one of those collapsible wagons for hauling your stuff from their parking spot to the ramp at each stop.   

If you make it to Miami night 1 you are doing great!  You've really taken a bite out of the total distance and will have earned yourself some time to rest.  You might try resting at Miami OR if the moon is good and the weather is friendly, why not just run the night out?  It's a heckuva lot cooler and the miles are pretty easy.  If keep your stop at Miami short you have the chance to pass 100 boats that are sitting there for the night.  How often can you pass 100 boats in 10 minutes?  Make those night miles when you can.  They really are the easiest miles you'll do if there's a good sky and no fog.  If you can sleep during the heat of the day (day 2) instead, it can make life easier.

(239 mile marker) Here's a nice little ramp between Miami and Glasgow.  We try to have a safety boat there every year unless something arises.  At Dalton you can meet your ground crew and catch a nap.  Generally never crowded.  If there's 5 boats there it's a busy year.  Toilets, a couple of picnic tables.  That's about it.
Speaking of toilets, the Missouri Department of Conservation knows about the race and tries to stock the toilets with supplies.  But we put a lot of people through there so it's a good idea to have a roll or two of toilet paper with your ground crew and probably one in a ziploc bag aboard your boat in case the toilets run out.

GLASGOW: (mm226)  REQUIRED CHECKPOINT  Nice park.  Pit toilets by the ramp.  Flushing toilets if you walk across the soccer field.  Also some showers in that bathhouse.  There will be a concession there.  Nice, wide ramp.  Very actively used to launch fishing boats.  We MUST keep the ramp open for fishing boats to launch and load.  Pull your boat over to the curb of the ramp.  Town is super close.  Ground crew will be able to get groceries during business hours.  Some little cafes in town if you want to get out of the heat and take a break.

FRANKLIN ISLAND ACCESS: MM195  OPTIONAL WAY STATION NOT a required stop but a good place to rest on the long haul from Glasgow to Jeff City.  Trevor Tilton Insurance, a sponsor of the race, is hosting this spot and will be providing food and drink to racers free of charge.  We are having portable toilets brought in.  This access is across the river from Boonville and downstream about a mile.  So ground crews will have nearby access to a large town. 

COOPER'S LANDING:  MM170  OPTIONAL WAY STATION  Mike Cooper has been a friend of the race since the beginning.  His private campground is open for the race and for spectators.  There is Thai food served around the clock. 

A couple notes about Cooper's.  Parking is very limited.  There will be parking attendants to direct you to available parking.  Be prepared to walk. 

Landing your canoe at Cooper's can be a challenge, especially at night.  We won't know the details until the safety meeting regarding what the water will be doing, but at most water levels, there is a wing dike (pile of rocks) causing some turbulent water just above the ramp.  You generally have to go around this dike and then cut in behind it into the slack water eddy.  We will have a safety boat there and some volunteers to talk you through it as you approach.  Just listen to their instructions.  Short version, go past the bumpy water, then paddle towards shore until current slows.  Turn your boat upstream towards ramp and hug the shore and boat dock as you approach ramp.  Take a look at Cooper's Landing on google maps and it will make sense. 

Beautiful Park known as Wilson's Serenity Point named after the great Joe Wilson who saved this park from ruins and took care of it the last 15 years of his life.  Just across the river from the capitol and just upstream of the bridge.  Food will be sold by the local Chik Fil A.  Missouri American Water will be there with free water.  Generally an easy landing at the ramp or at some water levels, on the sandy beach just downstream of the ramp. 

Good little stop to know about.  We don't generally park a safety boat here but it's a nice park.  Showers in the bath house. 

If you can make it to Hermann, you're gonna make it!  Just 70 more miles to go.  Very nice park and the town is all right there within walking distance.  The Hermann Scouts put on a great concession with breakfast and dinner food served around the clock.  Nice bathrooms a short walk away.  Some grassy areas where you can pitch a tent.  Train runs right through but by this point you'll be too tired to care.

NOTE:  There are two ramps at Hermann separated by a long dike that runs out into the river.  If this is submerged, it creates very turbulent water flowing over it.  We suggest landing at the upstream ramp.  Then, when you leave, you can opt to carry your boat to the downstream ramp in order to avoid the turbulent water.  This is the only legal portage of the MR340.  And it's about 50 yards.  You may also land at the downstream ramp if that's your preference.  This ramp is used by fishermen to launch and load boats so be sure you move your boat out of the way if you use this ramp.

Not an official stop or way station.  We generally try to have a safety boat here.  Cool little town.  Your ground crew will like it.

Tough spot to land a canoe.  Current flowing right across the ramp.   This used to be an official checkpoint but we stopped using it due to difficulty landing there.  Great river town.  I hope they build a new ramp someday.

Your final checkpoint before the finish.  Pat Jannsen hosts and a Missouri American Water safety boat will be there.  There will be limited concessions available. 

We finish right in front of the Lewis and Clark Museum.  Missouri American Water is building us a small floating dock this year to make things even easier.  Nothing is better than plowing the nose of your boat into that mud and sand at St. Charles.  There will be yet another Scout Troop there to help you haul your boat up to the storage area.  The museum sells food and beer as a fundraiser.  The museum is also open free of charge thanks to Missouri American Water. 

Please note that parking in the lot by the museum is strictly monitored by the city of St. Charles and is supposed to be empty after dark.  We will have special parking passes available free at the safety meeting for you to place on your dashboard.  Don't forget to grab one! 

We did NOT list every single ramp in this dispatch.  There are many more where you might decide to meet your ground crew.  This is part of the grand strategy.  It's a good idea to do some research.  The maps found on this this thread are really handy:  There are 8 sheets.  One on each post.


Your ground crew, whether virtual or physical, should have a copy of all 8 sheets posted as attachments on that thread.  The paddler really doesn't need the maps but maybe a list of ramps and mile markers (and which side of the river, right or left)  That way you and your ground crew can coordinate easily.  So when you meet at a checkpoint you can tell them where you'd like to see them next and they've got a map right there.

Alright, that's it for this dispatch.  More to come soon.  Keep the faith!  We're watching river levels closely.  They are projecting Kansas City to be around 17 feet which is 86,000 cubic feet per second.  That would be considered a high water year.  Not the highest we've seen during the race but certainly up there in the rankings.  What we do not need is more rain.  This 86,000 is purely from lake releases and is the MINIMUM they are projecting without significant rain.  So help us in hoping and praying for dry, dry, dry days between now and the race.  High water is great, but nobody wants a flood delay.

See you in a few weeks!


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