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2019 MR340 Official Dispatches (September 10-13 Race) (Read 18371 times)
05/01/19 at 09:52:21

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
15X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8079
Dispatch #1

Hello Paddling Friends!

Welcome to the 14th Annual Missouri American Water MR340!

Time to start the dispatches!  Again!  We will send a couple of these in the weeks 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!

Flooding Update:  Flood waters are slowly starting to recede.  The lakes that have been releasing stored water on the Kansas and Osage Rivers have started to come down to safer storage levels.  This is allowing the Corps of Engineers to taper flows on the Kansas River.  This will allow for some clean up and repair of needed infrastructure for the race to go on, hopefully in September. 

Currently, we have some checkpoints that remain unusable.  But the powers that be are hoping to use the lower water levels to finally get crews access to these locations and begin putting things back together.  Our job is to be ready for that come September 10!  We certainly are not out of the woods yet and significant rainfall can easily trigger major flooding again with the water so abnormally high for this time of year.  But things are at least finally heading in the right direction.

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

DATES: September 10-13, 2019

Mandatory Check In and Safety Meeting:

Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas
Monday, September 9, 2019

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 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, September 10, 2019
Kaw Point Park
8am Start Time.  All boats start together with smaller field of racers. 

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:

If you elected to race in September, your name should still be on this list.  If you opted out of September your name should be gone.  If you did not fill out the form, we are assuming you are racing and have left you on there.  We've had to get shirts and medals ordered at this point for those that have not opted for 2020. 

Please note, your name may have been moved in position on the roster as holes were filled from non racers.  Use Ctrl-F on your browser to search for your name. 

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 August 25th. 

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.

Just in case you want to start planning your strategy, here are the cutoff times for 2019.  (same as last year)

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am Tuesday, July 16.   
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 start time of 8am.

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. 

Let's breakdown the first 105 miles from Kaw Point to Miami on Day 1.

Race Start at Kaw Point

Kaw Point will be crowded and parking has to be organized.  There are lines painted in the park and there will be parking marshals directing traffic.  The park will fill up quickly and overflow parking will be outside the floodwall.  This too has to be done in an organized way.  Please follow the guidance of the parking marshals. 

Race starts at 8am for everyone.   The gun will fire whether everyone is in the water or not.  You can launch at the ramp (longest line) or out at the confluence.  Or anywhere that looks safe to do so.  When the gun goes off, you must be upstream of the boat ramp or you will be penalized minutes.  If you're still in line to launch, there is no penalty except the natural consequence of still being in line to launch. 

The KC fire department will be on the water just downstream of Kaw Point to assist you if there are any capsizes.  There are always 4 or 5 capsizes.  There is no disqualification for receiving assistance like this from a safety boat.  They will help get you back in your boat and on your way. 

Avoiding a Capsize. 

These incidents seem to happen right at the confluence where the slower Kansas River meets the faster Missouri.  It's easy to get panicked and miss a stroke and lose balance in what can sometimes be choppy water with some whirlpool action.  This is compounded by boats running into each other as they corkscrew in the currents.  So, a couple things....

Don't be in a huge rush to paddle into a crowd.  It's a long race, take your time and stay spread out.  Also, it's a wide entry into the Missouri.  Usually, the roughest water is right in the middle of this.  Smoother water is generally found at the extreme upstream end and the downstream end.  At the Shoot Out race a couple months ago, with water levels about what we can hope for in September, the downstream third of the Kaw mouth was very smooth.  The middle third was quite rough and we had a couple capsizes.  The upper third was ok.  Every water level presents a different scenario and we'll have a good idea of what it's going to be at the safety meeting the night before.  But there is ALWAYS a smooth sailing option.  But not everyone takes it. 

After the adrenaline of the start wears off you'll be going under the 5 bridges of KC in rapid succession.  Again, we remind you that with the high water, everything will come at you a little faster so get lined up between the spans and stay in the middle of each span.  Currents around the piers can be squirrely so give yourself room and allow the paddlers around you to have space to maneuver.  What usually forms fairly quickly is a conga line about 4 boats wide through the bridges.  This slowly morphs to a line about 3 boats wide... then 2... and then into a series of clumps of boats as the day wears on.

The first checkpoint is 50 miles into the race at Lexington, MO.  It will be crowded and chaotic here.  There will be a food vendor and bathrooms available.  You are required to check in here but you are NOT required to stop.  Check ins take place via text message and can be sent with your phone as you float by.  OR, your ground crew can text you through.  IF you do not have a cell signal for some reason, you should stop and make sure one of our volunteers or another ground crew or paddler will send the text for you.  Failure to check in properly causes a search to be started and this pulls resources from the safety of other paddlers.  Please take the time to make this simple effort to keep the race safe and efficient for everyone.

Because Lexington will be so crowded, many veterans do not stop there.  There are other options where you can stop for resupply.  Here's a few for you to google between Kaw Point and Lexington.

La Benite
Cooley Lake
Ft. Osage (Sibley)

Stopping at one of these will usually get you to Waverly or beyond, especially if the water is fast. 

Cutoff time for Lexington is 5pm.  That's a minimum average speed of 5.56 mph for the 8am start.   I promise you, if you can't make Lexington by 5pm with the fast water this summer, you are unlikely to make the subsequent cutoff times.  There are usually a few boats that don't make it.  Even in a high water year like last year we had some.  Here are the common denominators.

No ground crew (boat overloaded with gear)
Got a late start at Kaw Point
Stopped for extended period before Lexington
First time in the boat
Broken paddle/rudder/gunnel/etc
Sick, injured or otherwise unhappy partner.

If you make it to Lexington before the cutoff time, congratulations!  You've completed a big chunk of the race and you've built a cushion of time that will pay off later.  But now the mistakes we see is that entire cushion squandered as you sit at Lexington and rest while you eat, drink, etc.  You are sore and tired and the thought of getting back in the boat is dreadful.  But you're just making that next haul to Waverly so much harder.  If you want to get to Waverly, get in the boat.  You can eat, drink and rest while you move at 3mph.  Paddle enough to steer the boat and you'll be going 4 mph.  Paddle a bit more between bite of your sandwich and you'll easily be cruising the 5.75 mph you need to make the Waverly cutoff at 9pm.

Waverly will be also be crazy.  The advantage we have there is that Waverly is blessed with two boat ramps.  Both on river right.  One is just upstream of the bridge, the other just downstream.  Both will have bathrooms and both will have food.  You can't beat that.  So decide with your ground crew which one you will choose or have them send you a text with the one they've decided is best once they're parked and have scouted it out.  It's a short paddle down to the second ramp by boat but it's a bigger hassle to drive up the hill and around the bridge by car. 

Please note that there is a train track that runs right through both river parks in Waverly.  These are not protected by crossing arms.  If you have kids be especially careful to keep them away from the tracks.  The trains are very loud and you can certainly hear them coming.  But kids are fascinated by the trains and can't judge distance or speed quite as well as adults.

Special thanks as always to Robin Kalthoff and his Missouri Stream Team for the hard work they do at the Waverly checkpoint.  We will certainly need volunteers at ALL the checkpoints to assist the local volunteers in making this possible.  If you're interested in volunteering for the 340, please send an email to scott@rivermiles.com  We need folks at every checkpoint plus the finish line.

We always encourage all paddlers to vacate Waverly before midnight and press on.  Because of the train it's nearly impossible to sleep there and most paddlers are too amped up to sleep anyway.  AND, because the water will be fast we anticipate most folks getting there before 845pm.  If you're exhausted and need some sleep, obviously do it.  But the downside of this is when you wake up, the race will have mostly passed you by.  It's been 4 or 5 years now since someone camped at Waverly.  And if I remember correctly, they ended up quitting at sunrise.  They were the only boat there and the nearest boat was at Miami.  It was a psychological discouragement on top of their physical soreness that they could not overcome.  Had they paddled on to Miami, they would still be waking up sore... but they'd be surrounded by smiling paddlers getting back on the water and that would have pulled them along. 

Usually, we encourage folks to go at least to Hills Island, which is about 12 miles downstream of Waverly and has been a respite for paddlers after a long day who just can't quite make the next checkpoint without a break.  Our hosts there, Daryl and Kay Webery, usually have a fire going on the sand and 10 or 15 paddlers snoozing around it.

Sadly, I can pretty much guarantee that our patch of sand at Hills Island will be underwater.  Last year Daryl and Kay were there but with no sand they stayed in the boat and floated, tied to a tree at the downstream tip of Hills Island watching over you guys as you went by.  Everyone was so fast last year that nobody needed a break there anyway.  So once you leave Waverly, count on Miami as your next boat ramp.  But we will have a safety boat at Hills Island available if needed.  You can paddle right up to it and let them know what you need. 

Miami is mile 263 and is about 31 miles from Waverly.  It is not an official checkpoint but is the first of what we call Paddle Stops which are little spots on the river where you can count on volunteers, food, bathrooms, etc.  Miami is among the best of these.  The town really goes all out to host us and there is food cooked to order all night of night 1 and into breakfast in the morning.  The town uses this as fundraiser for civic projects and have done things like fix sidewalks and pave the city hall parking lot with the funds. 

Because of the fast water, we learned last year that Miami gets very crowded starting about 8pm and stays crowded all night.  With few options besides pressing on to Glasgow, Miami is a logical choice if you need to get off the water and try to sleep.  Like all crowded checkpoints, sleep is tough.  Every patch of grass and gravel in the parking lot is taken up with cars and canoes.  It's noisy.  But if you're tired enough, you can sleep anywhere... and you should.  But if you're not head nodding tired and paddling safely with a group of other canoes, it's often expedient to keep going, saving your sleep time for the heat of the day rather than the cool of the night.  Weather conditions, fog, alertness and stamina all play into this equation and everyone makes their own choice.  If you've made it to Miami on Tuesday, you're about 105 miles into the race.  About a third of the way there!  You're well ahead of the cutoff time at Glasgow of 6pm Wednesday evening.  Paddlers face a choice at Miami of either resting there or pushing for Glasgow and resting a couple hours in the afternoon there.  Both choices are valid and it's good to plan for both with your ground crew.

Between Miami and Glasgow is an isolated boat ramp called Dalton Bottoms.  It's about mile marker 239 on river left.  We try to have a safety boat stationed here all night unless they are on a call.  Dalton is a good quiet spot.  Of course, you can get off the river anywhere in the wild sections but it will be thickly treed and most of the sandbars will be underwater.  But in the event of extreme fatigue or fog or storms, That patch of mud in the trees will look really good.

Well, we've marched you to Miami at least.  Still lots to talk about next time including sand dredges, barges, buoys, carp, etc.  For now check out more of Chris Luedke's great training videos here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTAGGN9ArvdwcofYeM1ZWQ and keep praying for a drought.

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.

If you just can't wait until next time you can check out the 2018 dispatches and get a preview of what's coming. 

Let me know if you have any questions.

« Last Edit: 07/28/19 at 19:20:59 by Scott Mansker »  
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Reply #1 - 08/01/19 at 22:45:58

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
15X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8079
Dispatch 2:

Flood update:  The river and reservoirs have made great progress in the last few weeks.  We have major rainfall slated for the next 48 hours that will undue some of that progress but with 39 days to go, we are hopeful we can evacuate more water and get a safe river for September 10-13.

Please check the roster to verify correct information for your boat.  Some of you have bad boat numbers due to choosing one that was already taken.  Some folks are still missing a partner.  Some folks have both problems.  Here's the roster:


In this dispatch we'd like to cover sand dredges and barges before continuing our march down the river. 

You will encounter a handful of dredges over the route.  These are giant, noisy contraptions anchored mid river to harvest sand for construction and other useful applications.  The dredge calculus for a paddler seems pretty simple... steer away and give the beast plenty of room.  However, this calculus, like pretty much all calculus as far as I'm concerned, gets complicated. 

In the daylight, the dredges are active meaning they are sucking up sand.  That sand gets deposited in a "sand flat" or barge pulled alongside.  When the flat gets full, it is retrieved by a tow boat and an empty is placed on the other side.  So this towboat is busy all day running to the dredge with an empty and leaving with a full.  It will take this up or downstream up to a few miles and drop it off to be scooped away and made into driveways, sidewalks, bridges, etc.  If you live anywhere near the Missouri River, you're house foundation is probably sucked off the bottom of the river. 

So it's not as easy as just avoiding the stationary dredge, you have to be aware of the servicing tow and her path to and fro.  Also important to note that the dredge is anchored in place with long cables that reach forward into the swirling current several yards ahead of the dredge.  As these flex up and down with variations of wind and current the cables can surprise a paddler who has gotten too close.  So make your decision to avoid the dredge with plenty of time to spare. 

At night, the good news is the dredges shut down and so do the towboats.  (although one year we had one operate all night near Jeff City)  The bad news is that when the shut down they are almost completely dark.  They are required by law to have a visible white light at each end of the vessel so that it can be seen by other traffic.  But these lights seem to be somewhat unreliable and generally dim.  And you are so used to seeing random white lights on the banks from houses and whatnot, that one more white light in the middle of nowhere can fool you into false confidence. 

Our ears are especially important at night on the river and dredges are noisy fellows out there in the dark.  The sound of water rushing should alert every paddler that something potentially hazardous is up ahead.  We'll have the moon and the moon, when up and visible, reveals a dredge nicely.  But there will be times before moonrise and after moonset that you will have less of a heads up for what's up ahead. 

When you hear water it's time to grab that kick ass LED flashlight you've got stashed in your boat so you can do a quick sweep ahead and see what's going on.  Flashlight pricing has gone nothing but down and quality has gone rapidly up since we started this thing in 2006.  Folks used to routinely drop $250 for a high end flashlight back then.  Now, a much better light might cost $25.  So get 2 and keep one with your ground crew as a backup. 

Besides dredges, here are other things that make creepy noises at night that you will want to steer away from.

Wing dams/dykes:  These are rock structures jutting out into the current.  They are installed to artificially narrow the flow of the river so that it is deeper and faster for barge traffic.  It's possible these will be mostly underwater during our high water year but there will undoubtedly be places where the water is flowing over the top or around the tip of these and making noise.  You'll see the turbulence easily during the day, but at night, use your ears or just be sure you're staying in the channel. 

Buoys:  These giant 7ft steel tubes painted either red or green are anchored out in the river to warn barge traffic about shallow areas.  We generally don't have to worry about which side of this warning to be on as our boats are only drafting inches not 6 to 9 feet like barges.  They come in handy only when you encounter an actual moving barge because it shows you where she MUST go and then you know where to NOT go.  At night, these are easily heard and when you hear one, shine your light.  They are reflective and stand out well.  Swing away because hitting one is not as exciting as it might seem.  They outweigh your boat 50 to 1 and often have logs and other debris pinned to them that is tough to see in the dark. 

Bridge Piers: Luckily, bridges are easily seen for a couple miles before you get there.  They have lights set in such a way that a red light indicates a pier or a no-go space and a green light indicates the clear path.  However, the piers at night have given paddlers trouble from time to time due to the turbulent water around them.  And sometimes there are rafts of logs pinned to these that make it worse.  But the green light is dead center over the navigable span between piers and so going right under this light is a nearly sure bet.  But it is always a good idea to approach with caution and use your light to verify. 

Parked barges:
These are sneaky and require your utmost attention.  Sometimes we see a barge...no towboat attached... parked along the river bank.  These are almost impossible to see at night because they just look like a shadow along the treeline.  Again, these are supposed to have a white light marking them but these can fail or be confused for something else.  We advise folks to stay out towards the middle of the river when paddling at night in part to avoid the goofiness that is in the treeline shadows.  The danger of hitting a parked barge is that the raked (sloped) front end makes a dangerous trap for a paddler and if pinned there it's possible to be pulled under.  This has never happened during the race.  Because our paddlers are cautious and vigilant and always evaluating the path ahead.  But poor visibility is always a possibility due to clouds, rain or fog.  Paddling in thick fog is the epitome of bad decision making.  You can rely on a gps or chart plotter to keep you on the river, but it cannot see dredges, barges or buoys.  In poor visibility, be smart and get off the river and rest your weary bones.  The rest will pay off when the visibility improves.  Nothing more exhausting than the terrified, tentative paddling through fog. 

Negotiating a Towboat and Barges:

This is probably what brings the most apprehension to a paddler on the Missouri River... what do I do if I encounter a barge heading upstream or down?  In our minds as we ponder this, without experience, it seems a near impossible challenge.  How can I squeeze past an enormous machine like that on the river.  But when you come face to face in the moment, you'll see that there is a lot of river where the barge isn't.  And that's where you should go. 

The first thing to realize is that the towboat captain will be keeping his boat and cargo in the navigation channel.  Which, if he's lucky, makes up about half the river.  So for you, the river is half full of barge and half empty for your canoe.  And half a Missouri River is plenty of room for a canoe.

Your second task is to know just where this navigation channel is.  Because where it is, is where he will be.  And the channel changes sides of the river with each bend.  Which means when you first see the barge he might be on your left coming upstream at you.  But when you meet he might be in the middle on his way to your right side where the channel will be when he gets there. 

But if you know that, it becomes easy.  See where the off channel water is and head over that way.  Even better, find a place between wing dams (you KNOW he ain't going there) and just pull over and watch him go by.  This is especially a good idea if he's throwing a large wake behind his boat.  A heavy load being pushed upstream by a big towboat is going to displace a lot of water and leave a mess of confused waves behind it for miles.  Many canoes and kayaks have tipped over taking on these waves.  Depending on how big they are and how stable your boat and your skill level should determine whether you pull over or press on. 

A barge coming at you from behind is moving with the water and tends to not have a large wake.  Same strategy.  Determine where the channel is and how his path is constrained by this.  Move out of the channel to the slower water.  Allow him to safely pass and then get back on your way. 

If you encounter a moving barge at night it is absolutely best to get off channel on the wing dike side of the river and pull over.  It's confusing at night and he'll be sweeping the river with a retina melting spotlight.  Your night vision will be toast and it's better to just layover and let the madness stop.  What a great time to stop and stretch.  Or sleep.  Or text your ground crew.  Or put on a jacket.  Find something to do that's productive toward your goal.  Chris Luedke at 340paddler on youtube has a video about it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_dGOaxFi8Y

By the way, Chris has about 100 videos about the MR340 on his channel.  You should watch them all!  The whole collection is here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTAGGN9ArvdwcofYeM1ZWQ/videos

You'll find every topic we cover in the dispatches plus so much more.  We can't thank Chris enough for all his hard work on this. 

When we left you in the last dispatch you had made your way through Day 1.  You survived the start at Kaw Point, you chose to meet ground crew at strategic locations...  You made good time with the pack and departed Waverly with an eye for Miami or beyond.  We talked about Hills Island about midway between Waverly and Miami as a possible layover but water levels may not allow this.  But with a sunken Hills Island comes faster water that perhaps makes that way station superfluous.  And Miami a more reachable target for many.  Miami does lack the train tracks running through the park, which helps with noise... but the race turns the park at Miami into a county fair ground with an all night rodeo.  So don't expect an idyllic place to catch any sleep.  You'll hear car doors slamming, engines running, people hollering, pancakes flipping and canoes dragging up and down the ramp. 

The strategy you hear repeated by veteran middle of the pack racers is pretty consistent.  If weather and river conditions allow, keep going on day 1 for as long as your body allows.  Night paddling under a full moon with hundreds of boats is about as good as it gets.  The miles tick right by.  Are you sore?  Yes.  But this is the best you're going to feel. 

It's a lot like a road trip where you're trying to drive across country.  You make mile until you are too tired to safely drive.  When you find yourself lacking focus at 75mph on a dark highway, that's a bad deal.  Pull over and get some rest.  Same thing on the 340.  You'll know when it's time to sleep.  And when it's time to sleep, any patch of muddy bank will do.  But if you're just pulling over to sleep because it's midnight and your race plan said sleep at midnight... that might not work.  So be flexible and listen to your body.  If you're in a groove and paddling with a group and half of them are saying, "Let's go to Glasgow" and the other half are saying, "Let's stop in Miami" then you've got the best of both worlds... you get to decide.  Not based on when bedtime is at home on a Tuesday night, but on how you're feeling in the moment.  Maybe you're head's nodding and it's time to exit the river.  Or maybe you're amped up and having fun and feeling alert so you push on with the plan to sleep Wednesday afternoon somewhere downstream.  All options work and there are infinite ways to eat this elephant.  That's what brings people back year after year...  It's never the same race, never the same plan, never the same conditions. 

Wherever the sunrise finds you on Day 2, congratulations!  You made it to Day 2!  And Day 2 inevitably leads to night 2 and that's where the new racers really begin to understand what it means to be TIRED. 

So, consult with your ground crew or other racers regarding weather, etc.  Weather should constantly inform your strategy out there.  Are storms expected night 2?  What time?  We can sleep during the storm!  But only if we make miles first.  Or, is there a storm mid afternoon?  Let's hustle to meet the ground crew and sleep from 3-6pm during the rain and then get back on the water for what is supposed to be a clear night.  Our mantra out there is "Proceed as the way opens" the wonderful quote from the book River Horse by William Least-Heat Moon, a mid Missouri author... It got him and his boat across the country and it can get you across Missouri. 


You'll hear lots of talk on the forum and facebook about hallucinations on night 2.  What is this madness? 

It's really not as dramatic as it sounds.  By night 2, you're pretty sleep deprived with mid pack and back of the pack racers maybe only having 4 hours of sleep or so since the race started.  Sure enough when it starts getting dark night 2 folks start seeing weird creatures in the trees. 

We've all had it happen and it's typically pretty tame.  You're paddling along and you see what you're convinced is an alligator just sitting there on shore.  You might even mention it to your partner and then they see it too.  But you mention it to a third paddler and he can see that it's just a log and tells you as much.  But you saw the gator and now you can't unsee the gator.  Your brain has filled it in as best it can and it's always gonna be gator.  Sitting right there next to the mermaid.

Often what is needed is a quick reboot of the old brain.  This can be a short nap or some food or both.  Generally, we're on our way from one checkpoint to the next and so the goal is to get there and get some rest.  If you're with a group the mirages are less scary than if you're alone.  If you're seeing strange things and you're all alone out there, we advise pulling over and getting some rest in the first reasonable safe spot to do so.  If you've got a partner or are paddling with a group, try talking, singing, etc. and make sure you're sticking close together as you get to that next checkpoint and get some rest. 

It's not as common in the daylight but it can happen.  The best thing about this part of the race is that when you pull over for a nap you can instantly fall asleep.  You don't need a tent or a pad or a bag.  Just some shade in the mud and you're snoring.  Instant vivid REM sleep dreams.  Super restorative sleep.  Unlike when you tossed and turned trying to sleep night 1 at a crowded ramp, your night 2 sleep comes easy and regardless of sounds or location.  You can tell your ground crew to wake you up in 3 hours and it will feel like 3 minutes.  You will refuse to believe them.  They will show you the clock.  They will show you the sun.  You still won't believe it.  But your body will know it slept 3 hours of deep, restorative sleep.  Equivalent to 6 hours of the toss and turn stuff you get at home. 

Asian Carp!!
Does it seem odd to break up this dispatch with a random section about Asian Carp?  Well guess what?  That's the very nature of Asian Carp.  You're cruising along, minding your own business and all of sudden there's a giant (anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds) FISH in your face. 

Asian Carp are an invasive species that didn't really exist in the inland river until the mid to late nineties.  I had one land in my lap for the first time in 1999.  Scared me to death.  Fish don't jump into canoes.  Well, they do now.  But they didn't back then.

Now they are super common on the Missouri River and you will certainly see them or hear them.  Their tendency to jump out of the water is their fear response when spooked.  They escape predators by jumping 6 feet straight out of the water.  Problem is they sometime hit paddlers on their way up or down.  Not sure which is worse.  Probably on the way up because they are strong and moving fast out of the water. 

We've had good paddlers knocked out of the race by carp.  Yep.  Shoulder injuries, mild concussions, no joke.  But mostly grown men just scream like children.  But we want you to be aware, especially when paddling close to shore or in the slack water behind wing dams, carp are lurking.  And you scare them first.  Then they scare you back. 

We've covered some good ground.  Your homework is to visit Chris's channel and watch some videos while your boss isn't looking.  We'll be back with more soon. 


IP Logged
Reply #2 - 08/07/19 at 22:39:48

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
15X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8079
Dispatch #3

Flooding update:  Heavy rain approaching KC as I type this  Will set back our progress on reservoir releases.  Hoping for minimal rain and hoping worst of it heads to Osage Basin vs. Kansas Basin.  We will know more in a few days.  River down close to where we need her to be.  Department of Conservation has begun putting the parks back together.  LOTS of mud and sand that has to be cleared to make them fully usable.  But progress!

Let's talk of the things we CAN control. 

If there's one thing we've learned over the previous 13 years of MR340s it's that you can plan and plan and plan your race to the nth degree, right down to the Thai food you have scheduled to order at precisely noon on Thursday at Cooper's Landing.  But the river will get you there on her time.  Your elaborate plans will be shredded by night 1 and you'll have moved from Plan A to Plan F. 

Here's the deal.  That's ok. 

It's good to have a plan and a schedule but it's also good to be resilient and flexible.  The river will take away things that you were counting on but then it will give you things that you weren't expecting.  The trick is to not waste too much physical and emotional energy on throwing yourself at the hard paddling and definitely take full advantage when the easy paddling is there for the taking. 

It's like a running play in football.  Play is designed to sweep right but you see a wall of defenders there waiting and a wide open gap to the left.  Cut left and take the yardage where it is given to you.  Don't marry yourself to something that is clearly not working. 

We discussed this in a previous dispatch as it applies to sleep.  Many racers have a sleep plan going in.  That's great!  You should actually have 3 or 4 plans.  And that's just for night 1.

Plan A.  I might sleep at Hills Island
Plan B. Hills Island underwater.  I will sleep at Miami.
Plan C. Feeling good at Miami.  Will head to Glasgow.
Plan D. Got foggy.  Slept in the trees somewhere between Miami and Glasgow. 

Part of the challenge is managing your ground crew.  We love our ground crews!  If you're lucky enough to have one, you want to keep them happy.  And they obviously want to do a good job.  So there are tons of emails flying back and forth from ground crew to paddler right now, forming a race plan. 

If you're a ground crew reading this, thank you so much for taking this on.  You will love it.  Your job is to make your paddler as efficient as possible.  You want their stops to be quick and for them to have everything they need for the next leg.  The lighter you can keep their boat, the faster they will get there.  Their thinking will get slower as the race goes on so what they need is for you to think for them.  And mostly, get their butts back in the boat and tell them you'll see them at the next stop. 

As a ground crew, help them to be flexible with their planning.  Often the paddlers feel obligated to stick to a predetermined plan they've made with you weeks before the race.  "We will sleep 4 hours at Miami, from midnight to 4am.  So it is written, so it shall be"  But then they get to Miami at 10pm and they aren't tired and they want to go on.  You've set up the van for sleeping... you did a great job... but they are not ready to sleep.  They don't want to appear ungrateful.  And they're NOT ungrateful.  But it will do nobody any good to try to force reality to conform to the plan for the sake of the plan.  The plan is to get to St. Charles as quickly and safely as the river allows.  Everything serves that plan. 

So you can tell your paddlers that you'll head to Glasgow and fall asleep there.  When the get there they can knock on the  van and wake you up.  You climb out, they climb in.  36 miles closer to the finish line.  The entire schedule for the week blown up in a good way.  Who knows where you'll be tonight?  That's the fun of it.  Things change hour to hour and you roll with it.  Problems come up and you solve them.  The river gives you 36 extra miles on a beautiful moonlit night, you take it.  Because it might take them all back the next night with thick fog or a thunderstorm. 

Keep sketching out scenarios and plans but don't get married to any of them.  Be ready to swipe left at any time.


The wisdom of veteran racers is, you do NOT want to try new foods during the race.  Stick to stuff you know.  Don't buy some energy powder or drink mix that you've never raced with before then swallow it down when your body is taxed.  It can end your race. 

If you've trained extensively with the supplement or magic potion that's one thing.  But introducing strange chemistry to your struggling body is not a good idea. 

You already know what kind of food you like.  And you'll crave things that you normally try to limit as a healthy person.  But you're burning so many calories so fast that you need to keep a steady supply up or things will start falling apart. 

A good metaphor is a campfire.  Think of your metabolism as the perfect campfire that is keeping you warm.  Starve it for fuel and it will go out.  Once it's out, no amount of wood will get it going again. 

On the flipside, if you have a good fire going, then you back a dumptruck up to it and drop a load of wood too quickly, you can put it right out.  The best practice is to keep a steady flow of fuel to that fire so that it burns hot and efficient. 

Don't be afraid of greasy, fatty food that you would otherwise not let yourself eat on a regular basis.  I've watched ground crews hand cooked T bone steaks to their tandem teams.  Each guy got a steak in his lap.  They each grabbed it with their hands and ripped a bite out, set it back in their lap and started paddling.  That's what they were craving and that's the fuel they needed.

Burgers and hot dogs that some of the checkpoints serve are a great source of calories.  And the non profit groups that host these are grateful for your support.

Salty foods go down well.  You will be losing lots of salt.  Electrolytes is a fancy word for this. 

Sweet stuff is good but too much can make some people queasy out there.  I've seen a lot of granola and cliff bars in the trash can on day 2.  But they have their place and are good to have as an option.

Fruit can be a game changer and bring a paddler right back to full strength.  Apples are super easy to eat and manage in a boat.  Cold watermelon or cantaloupe is also a hit. 

Casey's gas station pizza becomes like gold out there.  If you're a ground crew and you pass a Casey's, go get some slices, wrap them in foil and stick them in the cooler for the next stop.  You could make someone's whole race with a well placed slice of pizza.

Real Sugar Mountain Dew or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper.  These are hard to find.  But they are instant energy to a wiped out paddler.  Avoid stuff with high fructose corn syrup.  This is hard to digest under the best of circumstances.  Out there we've seen lots of bad stuff come from it.  Cramping etc.  Some of the off brand gatorade copycat stuff will have corn syrup because it's cheaper.  Read the label.  Real sugar is better.  I know Wal-Mart carries the Throwback Mountain Dew in the vintage can with real sugar.  Sometimes they have the Pepsi and Dr. Pepper.  Slide an ice cold can in your paddler's hand as they leave the ramp.  They'll get to the next checkpoint 4% faster, guaranteed. 

Safety Boats:

Thank heaven for our safety boat fleet and our amazing captains and crews.  Some of them have been with us for 10 plus years!  This race doesn't happen without them. 

Their role is to support you out there and, in a situation where you can't make the next checkpoint, they can pick you up. 

Typically, we will have a safety boat at each checkpoint and even at most of the non checkpoint ramps like Miami, Cooper Franklin Island, etc.  As the race moves downstream, these boats travel between checkpoints and scour the shore looking for any paddlers pulled over who might need assistance.  You'll see a bunch of safety boats at Kaw Point before the start of the race.  They all fly yellow flags with the skull and cross paddles so they are easy to identify. 

As the safety boats go downstream and pass you by they might offer you a thumbs up as means of asking from a distance, "Are you good?"  They are looking for you to return the thumbs up to say, "Yep, all good"

If things are not good, we ask that you set your paddle down and wave your arms to signal that you'd like them to come closer.  They will do so.  You might want to get picked up and taken to the next downstream checkpoint.  Or you might have run out of water.  Or you might have some other minor problem.  They can help. 

They are instructed to check on any boat they see pulled over to the side of the river.  Most of the time this is just a paddler resting or possibly relieving themselves up in the trees.  But we don't know so we are obligated to check.  Checking looks like this:  Boat spotted.  Steer towards it.  Look for paddler near boat.  If paddler spotted, give thumbs up.  Positive response?  Move on.  No response?  Stop and clarify.  Arms waved?  Stop and help. 

We ask that if you pull over at night you keep your boat's navigation lights on so that we can see it and check on you.  Obviously, if you pull over at night in need of help, you'd want to be as visible as possible. 

What if you need help and there's no safety boat around?  Get your required cell phone out and call the safety boat hotline.  This will be given to you at the safety meeting on a waterproof card.  Calling a safety boat should only be done if there's a situation for you or a fellow paddler that requires a safety boat to pick you up and move you down to the next available ramp.  An exception might be that a broken rudder or similar repair is needed and the safety boat could help with a tool or other expertise.  But mostly, a call to the safety boat hotline means a racer would like to be picked up due to not being able to finish.

Depending on the situation, the time from the call being answered to a safety boat arriving could be lengthy.  Most often it's less than 30 minutes.  But if there is fog or bad weather or it's night time, it could be longer.  For this reason, we always require that paddlers carry with them gear needed for a safe night of camping out on the river.  Enough food and water... a mylar emergency blanket... means for starting a fire... cell phone.  Flashlight.  Etc.

Remember too that we consider all of you out there to be safety boats for each other.  If you see a paddler in distress, you are obligated and no doubt willing to help.  Often paddlers helping paddlers are the best stories and the most rewarding.  Maybe it's just to borrow a phone to tell ground crew a change of plans.  Or an extra set of hands to adjust a rudder cable.  But sometimes it has been a more serious situation where a paddler made the difference when a situation required it.  So thanks in advance!  And don't hesitate to ask for help. 

Some more random hints:

Put some reflective tape around the shaft of your paddle.  If you drop that black paddle in the middle of the night out there, the little bit of tape might be the only way you find it with your flashlight. 

Bring a spare paddle and keep it aboard.  If you lose that main paddle and you spot it bobbing 10 feet away, how do you get to it?  This really just applies to solo boats.  The spare paddle can be small.. Just enough to get you there.  Or, what some solos do is have a double blade paddle and a single blade.  Switching throughout the day to change up the muscle groups.  So one is always your backup. 

Here are some great Nav Lights that have worked well out there.  https://www.amazon.com/eGear-Guardian-Function-Signal-Light/dp/B0014BJ5WS/ref=sr...

You need a red and green for front of boat.  White for back of boat.  These batteries last 100 hours.  Turn them on night one and forget them. 

They are bright so another tip is to put some black tape over the portion of the light that shines towards the paddlers.  This includes the rear light as it will light up your paddle and reflect into your eyes and harm night vision.  You need your boat to be visible from 360 degrees via these lights.  But you don't need to see the lights from where you are sitting. 

Your boat numbers should be reflective.  This helps us see you at night.  Additional reflective tape here and there on the boat is also a good idea.  Many production boats already have this.  Go shine a light on your boat in the dark garage.  You'll see pretty quick if its there.

Keep a good flashlight in your boat.  If you see a motorboat that you think may not see you, use it to signal them.  In some plastic kayaks, you can turn the flashlight on inside the cockpit and it will light up the whole boat in a pinch. 

Be prepared for a worst case scenario where you are separated from your boat and unable to catch it.  Maybe it's being blown by the wind.  Don't worry, we can get it later.  Take care of yourself first.  Get to shore.  But now what.  Do you have your cell phone?  Do you have a small flashlight?  Do you have the safety card?  It's a good idea to have bare essentials as part of your PFD.  A PFD with pockets makes this easy. 

We've been getting lots of great questions from paddlers and ground crews.  Don't hesitate to ask.  As the race approaches we will keep the dispatches coming.  We are about a month away from the safety meeting.  Keep the faith!

We're here to help!

IP Logged
Reply #3 - 08/15/19 at 23:03:05

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
15X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8079
Dispatch #4

Flood Update: Osage Basin nearing normality as I type this.  Flows from Bagnell Dam (Lake of the Ozarks) reducing from 50,000 to 32,000 over next couple of days.  This affects the river below Jeff City. 
Kansas Basin still has a ways to go.  The Corps of Engineers are walking a tightrope there trying to get the water out while holding the river at a proscribed level.  Eventually, they'll be granted some sort of deviation there and will release more water.  The amount they plan to release "should" keep us at a level where we could race.  But rain would affect that.  So we need overall dry weather and hopefully, a little love from the Corps. 

Checkpoints and "Paddle Stops"
A checkpoint is a place where you are required to text in to our safety team your time IN and OUT.  The checkpoints and cutoff times are as follows:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am Tuesday, September 10.   
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

In addition to these mandatory check ins, there are hosted Paddle Stops that are great places to stop for a break or meet ground crew.  So here's a list of the Checkpoints in BOLD with the Paddle Stops placed in order between them along with distances.

Kaw Point, mile 367

50 miles
Lexington, mile 317

23 miles
Waverly, mile 294  

31 miles

Miami, mile 263

37 miles
Glasgow, mile 226

31 miles

Franklin Island, mile 195

25 miles

Cooper's Landing  mile 170
26 miles

Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144    

46 miles  (we need one here in Chamois, mile 118.  If you are with a non-profit and interested, let us know)
Hermann, mile 98

17 miles

New Haven, mile 81 (New this year!)

25 miles
Klondike, mile 56

27 miles
St. Charles, mile 29, finish line

There are many more ramps than these.  And part of your strategy should be to know all of them and make sure your ground crew knows all of them as well.  But these we've indicated above will be staffed with volunteers and safety boats.  So you can see, the race is really a serious of smallish chunks to take on one after the other.  Carry what you need to make the next station, keeping your boat as light and fast as possible.  The Paddle Stops are staffed to reflect the cutoff times of the ramps above and below them.  If you're on a finisher's pace and more or less with the pack, you'll catch these still open. 

Checking In:
So you know you're required to check in but how do you do it? 

It's all done by text message and there will be a phone number for this given to you at the safety meeting.  You'll want to enter it into your phone and into your ground crew phone. 

The text message should be formatted properly so that we get what we need fed directly into our tracking software, RaceOwl.  If the message is not formatted, it will still get there but a human will have to massage it a little to get it to go in the system. 

Luckily, there is an app for that!  Go to where you get apps and look for MR340 Checkpoint Texter.  I believe this exists for free for Android and Apple.  With some simple clicks, it will format the text perfectly for you with your boat number, checkpoint and time.  Then you just send the text and you're done!  Super simple.  Download and play with it.  And train your ground crew on it. 

There are more advanced products from Jon Marble and Hogan Haake (the geniuses behind RaceOwl and all these apps) some of these will text for you automatically as you paddle by the checkpoint and will track you on a map for friends to watch.  Look for RaceOwl apps where you find your apps and you can have some fun!  But everyone should, at minimum, have the MR340 Text apps on their personal phone as well as ground crew.  Practice sending some texts now!

Physical Ground Crew vs. Virtual Ground Crew:
Let me start by saying as clearly as possible... Every boat HAS TO HAVE A GROUND CREW.  That said, not all ground crews are created equal.  Some are physically present helping their boat with food, gear, etc.  Meeting them at all kinds of ramps in all kinds of weather all the way to the promised land. 

Some, on the other hand, never leave the comfort of home.  But there job is super important! 

We count on ground crews to alert us if a paddler is late to a designated meeting.  Yes, we have cutoff times at checkpoints and we verify that all paddlers are accounted for when the cutoff time expires.  BUT, if a paddler were injured and needed help somewhere, waiting hours and hours for cutoff time is not effective.  So we depend on ground crews to monitor the progress. 

With a Physical Ground Crew that's easy.  They are waiting for you at the next ramp.  They know you should be there in a certain time frame.  You are a half hour late.  Then an hour late.  They call you.  You don't answer.  So they tell the safety boat parked at the ramp that they are worried... and we can go find you.

With a Virtual Ground Crew there is an extra step involved.  If you're paddling with a virtual ground crew you must essentially file a float plan with them every leg of the race.  So Aunt Margie is your ground crew back home.  Her number is on file with our safety team.  You check in with us at Lexington when you arrive (using the Text App please) then you text Aunt Margie and say, "We made it to Lexington. Next stop Waverly.  We should be there by 7pm and will contact you."  Margie, because she is awesome, makes a note of this on the legal pad you stole from work for her to use.  She writes down that you made it to Lexington at 3pm and you anticipate texting her at Waverly at 7pm. 

If she doesn't hear from you by 8pm or so, Margie contacts our safety boat hotline and let's us know she's concerned.  Thus, we know there may be a problem and can start keeping our eyes open on the stretch between Lexington and Waverly a yellow boat with that boat number. 

So it's on you to be religious about texting Margie and it's on Margie to be religious about making sure you're punctual.  And you can always text Margie if you're running late or change your plans or pull over for fog or whatever.  She's your backstop.  She's your parachute.  If all else fails, Margie is looking after you and can call in reinforcements. 

So for those of you that are planning to run unsupported, you better have your ground crew lined out.  And sit with them and explain all this.  And buy them some energy drinks because they too will be keeping odd hours during the race so they can monitor you remotely. 


Check the roster and make sure you're not missing a boat number or a partner.

Watch the Chris Luedke videos. 

Read the First Time Finisher book available on Amazon for download.

Coach up your ground crew.

Download the Texter apps and consider the more advanced apps for auto tracking and navigation features.

Pray for dry weather.

Figure out where the Safety Meeting and Check In are happening.  (520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS  September 9, Check starts 1pm to 6pm.  Safety meeting 7-8pm same place)

Put your numbers on your boat.

Put your navigation lights on your boat.

Start the gear pile.  Spouses prefer this be in the middle of the living room.

Get the ground crew vehicle tuned up and test battery and check tires.

Make sure there's a way to keep your cell phone dry and charged on your boat. 

Make sure you can survive a wet night in the middle of nowhere with heavy rain and cool temperatures.  What would you need and do you have it?

Practice self rescue in SAFE, shallow water at a lake near you.  Your boat is flipped over.  You should be able to get back in. 

Figure out what you need to have attached to YOU should you be separated from the boat. What do you have in your PFD?

Figure out how to pee in your boat.  You can't pull over every time you need to pee.  You'll never finish the race.  There are solutions for all geometries.  Practice.  There are clothing considerations, especially for women that can make this easier. 

Toughen up your hands.  Pullups and free weights are great for this if you can't do it through paddling hours alone. 

Stay positive!  You can do this!  WE can do this.  We just need a cooperative river and a little luck and we'll be out there making it happen together.  Once the race starts, it will all coalesce.  Just you and your boat and hundreds of supportive paddlers and volunteers working together!

And Aunt Margie, too!

More soon.


IP Logged
Reply #4 - 08/24/19 at 22:47:27

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
15X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8079
Dispatch #5

River Update:

Flows have been reduced on the Osage River down from 50,000 CFS to 35,000, helping to lower water downstream of Jefferson City. 

Kansas River continues to be the wild card.  Lakes that feed the Kaw are still very high but have reached "Phase 1" levels down from Phase 2.  This means that proscribed flows at Waverly are supposed to be held at 90,000.  But that is impossible with the mainstem lakes on the Missouri releasing 70,000.  So it's likely that the Kansas City District will receive an approval to a deviation request from the Omaha office that will allow them to exceed 90,000 at Waverly.  It could be 110,000 or 130,000 or 150,000.  At the worst this summer they had a deviation for 180,000 at Waverly. 

We are hoping for something 130,000 or lower.  Something under 22 feet at Waverly.  Along with predicted friendly weather.  We have a shot at this.  Waverly is at 22.7 feet as a type this.  So needs to fall about a foot and is predicted to do so. 

FOOD at Checkpoints:

The reschedule caused some problems for some food vendors.  Here's what we know so far about food availability. 

Lexington:  Pending.  Hoping for the Lexington Boy Scouts.  They had a meeting about it Thursday.  Waiting to hear what they decided.

Waverly:  Waverly boy scouts will definitely be serving food at the upper ramp.  They are hoping they have enough people to also serve food at the downstream ramp.  It looks like they will.  They do a great job. 

Miami:  100% in on the usual Miami fare we've grown to love over the years. 

Glasgow: Suzie Murdock is back with her Fresh On The Go food truck.

Franklin Island: Trevor Tilton Insurance is sponsoring this paddle stop and providing free hot dogs to paddlers. 

Cooper's Landing:  Cooper's is back after the flood.  I'm told there will likely be a Mexican food truck there this year.  Certainly the store will be open with some limited food as well. 

Jefferson City:  This checkpoint was heavily damaged by the flood but is now slowly getting back in shape.  Food is pending. We are waiting to hear on a couple of possibilities. 

Hermann:  The amazing Hermann boy scouts will be back this year with their food tent.  Serving around the clock.

New Haven:    This is a new Paddle Stop on the list.  We are unsure of the scope of hospitality but we think this will become a new tradition for racers. 

Klondike:  There will be limited grab and go snack type food.  Donation jar.  You're almost done at Klondike.  So grab a granola bar and refill your jug and go finish this thing!

St. Charles:  Our partners at the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Museum are selling food at the finish line like they do every year!

We hope you'll patronize these wonderful folks at the checkpoints.  They go to a ton of trouble and it's their biggest fundraiser of the year for many of these groups.  If you're an unsupported paddler, it's crucial to your race to have food and water at these spots.  So bring some cash.  It's very convenient for ground crews as well while the wait for their racers. 

The Reaper:

The Reaper is one of our safety boats.  But she plays a dual role as the pace boat as well.  The Reaper will set out from Kaw Point after you guys take off.  Her crew has a detailed chart showing the exact time she should pass each mile marker on her way to St. Charles in order to finish exactly at the cutoff time.  So the Reaper goes nice and slow. 

She hits each checkpoint at EXACTLY the time that checkpoint closes.  If the Reaper beats you to a checkpoint, you are OUT of the race. 

So, if on day 1 you are paddling along and you hear something behind you, take a peek.  It could be the Reaper.  If it starts to pass you, the crew will probably say check in with you, making sure you realize what is slowly happening to you.  Encouraging you to speed up... But if the Reaper gets too far ahead and you don't think you're gong to catch her, it's time to start accepting that this isn't your year... and that the next checkpoint will be your last. 

We do give the Reaper a short break at each checkpoint.  For example, it will arrive at Lexington at exactly 5pm, tie up, crew will exit, get some food, sit and eat, etc.  As a paddler there, you might get lulled into a sense of security.  The Reaper isn't moving, so I am safe and can rest.  Wrong.  Because when the crew gets back on their boat at 530pm, They are going to catch back up to the 9pm Waverly pace quickly and then settle back in to their slow crawl.  Leaving you well behind with lots of hard work to pass them before Waverly. 

So keep a good lead on the Reaper.  Hope you never see her. 

In a typical year, by day 2, the Reaper has reaped all her victims and so rather than leaver her 20 miles behind the pack, we instead turn her into a traditional safety boat and station her among the paddlers somewhere.  To avoid confusion, we have a large black flag on the Reaper that, when hoisted high (about 10 feet above the boat) means she's in Reaping Mode.  But when the flag is down, she's just a normal boat and you should have no fear if she passes you. 

The Reaper is pretty unmistakable with large, glowing eyes on the front of the boat and a sea monster painted on both sides.  You'll know if the Reaper has passed you.  Mostly because the crew will talk trash. 

Barge Escort:

Sometimes it works out that a safety boat can jump in front of a barge that is moving through the pack and tell paddlers which side of the river to move to.  We can't do this with every barge so you'll need to know what to do in all situations, but if we can spare the boat, an escort is possible.  This boat would stay a mile or so ahead of the barge and intercept each paddler to let them know the barge is coming and which side he'd like you to be on as he passes.  Please comply with this. 

This crew has a tough job as escort and it's typically a 3 person team so that one can be resting in rotation.  Their boat will be moving night and day as the barge moves.  Super important to make sure you've got nice, bright, functioning navigation lights so that both the safety boat and barge know where you are and which direction you are heading. 

Sunrise, Sunset:

Day 1 of the race, the sun will rise at 655am.  It will set at about 740pm.  This is about an hour less light at both ends of the day.  So two hours total.  It will be full dark when most of you arrive at Kaw Point for the 8am start.  It will just be getting light by 645am.  But we still need folks to start launching their boats in order to have an 8am start with everyone on the water. 

River will be dark by 8pm or so each night.  Plan accordingly your meetings with ground crew for anything you'll need after dark. 

With cooler temperatures could come fog.  Please, please please, don't be a fool and paddle into fog.  It's probably the most dangerous thing you can do.  Unless you have radar aboard your boat (there is NOT an app for that) you should not be out there.  Too many bad things can happen with a parked barge, sand dredge, buoys, bridges, etc.  NOT worth it. 

If you're paddling and you begin to see wisps of fog on the water, start paying attention.  If the wisps are blowing across the face of the water, that's a good sign.  The wind may keep the fog from building.  But if the fog is just sitting there you've got some trouble coming soon.  That will keep piling up and pretty soon be over your head and you won't see anything.  BEFORE it gets to a point of zero visibility, get yourself to a safe landing spot on shore.  It's probably 3am.  You've got 3-4 hours before the fog is going to burn off.  Make the best of that time.  You'll be tired.  Get your mylar blanket and roll up in it like a baked potato.  Use your PFD as a pillow.  Text your ground crew and let them know you pulled over and so will be later than you thought to the next checkpont.  Tell them to take a nap.  And then YOU take a nap.  When the fog clears you'll have a newly restored body ready to paddle harder and faster. 

Had you gone on into the fog, you would have been miserable.  Terrified, not knowing which way was upstream or down.  Panicking at every sound of water.. just drifting in the current, not making good speed, paddling in figure 8s but not knowing you were doing it.  Do everyone a favor and pull off the river and rest.  It will pay dividends later in your race. 

Keep the Faith!

In a year with the 3rd most runoff in recorded history, we have a SHOT at getting this race in. That's a miracle.  We just need some dry weather and some luck from the Corps and we can do this.  So keep preparing and checking things off your list.  Let's hope we're all together September 9th at the safety meeting with a dry forecast and some beautiful days and nights ahead. 

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