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15th Annual MR340 - Official Dispatches (Read 15004 times)
05/23/20 at 11:26:40
Scott Mansker   Ex Member


Hello to Everyone!

Welcome to what we hope will be the 15th Annual MR340. 

We are continuing with planning at this time. We are following the MR340 mantra, "Proceed as the Way Opens" and are carefully nudging things forward.  Should conditions allow, we will have things in place for the race.  Let me say up front that everyone on the roster will have the option to defer to 2021.  Nobody should feel any pressure to race, should we be lucky enough to race.

There will be some major changes to the usual routine.  Some were in place before the pandemic.  Others are in direct response. 

Let's start with the COVID-19 stuff. 

This is a highly infectious respiratory disease that is potentially dangerous to all age/health categories but is particularly dangerous for folks with complicating conditions like, but not limited to, diabetes, COPD, obesity and advanced years. 

Recent stay at home orders have blunted the rate of infection in the area and social distancing continues to be the best tool as things start opening back up.  I haven't had a handshake since February and it's hard for me to imagine having one anytime soon.  I wash my hands like a madman.  I have hand sanitizer pump in my truck that I use after every job.  I wear a mask when I go into a store.  These things all add up and when practiced by the larger community, can continue to keep things under control as we open back up. 

We hope. 

There is also some science just out that says mask wearing cuts transmission between two folks by 75%.  And more new science that is quantifying to what degree warmer, more humid air cuts transmission.  The virus likes to float in particles of breath in cool, dry air.  The cooler air allows for more time airborne before falling to the ground.  Warm, humid air makes this tough and droplets tend to clump with other moisture and fall. 

So, all things being equal, you are theoretically better off socially distanced and masked out in the summer heat than you would be in the frozen food isle of a grocery store or in your favorite air conditioned bar.  Or, heaven forbid, stuck inside at work.

Those factors have guided some decisions regarding how to inch forward on a 340. 

Virtual Safety Meeting:
It sure doesn't make sense to start things off with 1200 people in an air conditioned room for 90 minutes.  This year, with the help of Chris Luedke, we will produce a youtube video with all the 2020 information.  This will be required viewing for all participants.  It will not be live but can be viewed at your convenience.  To have the most updated information, it will not be available until the week or so prior to the race. 

Waivers and Tshirt:
Prior to the race, those still on the roster will be emailed a waiver to print at home and sign.  You will deliver this waiver to Kaw Point Park on Monday, August 3, between 12 noon and 8pm.  You will wear a mask or sun gaiter.  The waiver will have your tshirt size indicated.  When you set your waiver in the tray, a masked volunteer will hand you a tshirt.  You can stage your boat if you wish.  Again, everyone in the park should be respectful of others and wear a mask or gaiter.  With an 8 hour window of time, we're hoping this can all be done without much crowding. 

Race Start:
This is a bit trickier and would have some more proximity.  Our goal is to minimize this as much as possible.  We will get out safety boat crews in their boats and out of the way early.  We would ask that anyone not directly involved with the launching of paddle craft stay at home, hotel or in car.  Only paddlers allowed on the lower level of the park.  If you are a soloist and you need help carrying your boat, you can have one ground crew assist.  Solos will start the race at 7am.  All others at 8am.  Keep a distance from others as much as possible.  The lines will be longer with distancing, but hold the same number of people and should move just as quickly. Once on the water, masks are not required though the sun gaiters are great and will keep the sun off your face, ears and neck.  Masks or gaiters must be carried aboard the boat for use at checkpoints.

Masks or gaiters please as you approach the ramp.  Make sure your ground crew has them as well.  The sooner you get back on the water, the sooner you can remove the mask. 

Finish Line:
There will be no awards ceremony on Friday.  Trophies and medals will be awarded as you finish.  You can remove your mask for the finish line photo with your hardware. 

Safety Boats:
Our safety boat teams will have masks and sanitizer aboard the boats for interacting on the water with you should you need assistance. 

Food Vendors:
We are in the process of contacting food vendors for the critical ramps.  It is unclear at this time if we will have them at all the usual ramps.  Confirmed so far are Glasgow, Cooper's Landing and Hermann.  It may be difficult to get them this year.  All the more reason that a ground crew is important for 2020.  Please keep working towards this.  But I think we'll get more interest from the food truck community as things get closer. 

Training Races:
There are many shorter races on the Missouri still planning to take place.  Check out our race calendar for more information.  https://rivermiles.com/events-calendar/  There is one on May 30th from KC to Lexington.  If you've never been on the Missouri before and you can get to this race, it's a good introduction to the first 50 miles of the MR340. 

Non COVID changes:

First Checkpoint is Now Kaw Point:
Everyone will check in via RaceOwl at Kaw Point on August 3rd when you pick up your tshirt and packet.  You must check in between noon and 8pm.  We will have volunteers available to help.

Paddle Stop Lexington:
Lexington will no longer require a check in.  There will be a safety boat there and hopefully a food vendor but you are not required to be spotted and checked in by ground crew. 

Cutoff Time Adjustments:
New Cutoff Times for 2020 will shorten the race slightly. 

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:


1. Kaw Point, mile 367.5, Race Begins Tuesday, August 4.  7am solos, 8am everything else.  All boats MUST check in via RaceOwl on August 3rd at packet pickup between noon and 8pm.
2. Waverly, mile 293.5, (74 miles) 800pm Tuesday  Leg avg. (5.69mph for solos, 6.17mph tandems)


3. Glasgow, mile 226, (68 miles) 4pm Wed.  Leg avg. 3.4mph  (assumes Waverly departure of 8pm Tuesday)

4. Jefferson City, mile 144, (82 miles) 4pm Thurs.  Leg avg. 3.42mph (assumes Glasgow departure of 4pm Wednesday)


5. Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 8am Friday  Leg avg. 2.88mph (assumes Jeff City departure of 4pm Thursday)
6. Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 4pm Friday  Leg avg. 5.25mph   
7. St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  9pm Friday  Leg avg. 5.4mph

Total of 85 Hours for 8am start (4mph) 86 for 7am start.  (3.95mph)

This time change will affect a very small number of racers who can make a few efficiency adjustments.  But it allows for much better safety coverage at the back end of the race.

In summary, for the 15th Annual MR340, here's where we're at.

1. Nobody is pressured to participate.  An opportunity to defer will open later in the summer to allow your choice. You will receive link via email.
2. Masks will be required of everyone while on shore.
3. Online safety meeting. Link sent via email.
4. No group awards ceremony. Individual awards given at finish. 
5. Race will be postponed if agencies or towns pull the plug on our permits.
6. New cutoff times will shorten the race by 3 hours.  86 hours for solos.  85 hours for everything else.

Stay safe and sane.  Get outside and safely enjoy your boat and the water.  Better days are coming!  Nobody can tough out rough times like the MR340 community. 

More to come soon.


« Last Edit: 11/07/22 at 09:14:03 by N/A »  
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Reply #1 - 06/07/20 at 23:39:16
Scott Mansker   Ex Member


So far, so good.

We've continued to have good luck in our pursuit of all permits and insurance.  The race is still planned for August 4-7 with check in the afternoon/evening of August 3, anytime noon to 8pm at Kaw Point Park. 

We've still got a great deal to cover between now and then to get you ready.  For veterans of the race, this is all old news.  But we like to refresh everyone's memory and answer any questions that may arise. 

In the previous dispatch we highlighted the new checkpoint and cutoff times.  Please review that.  This has shortened the race by 3 hours from 89 to 86 hours for solos.  85 hours for all other boats.  We also made Kaw Point your first checkpoint.  All of you must check in there via text or RaceOwl app.  Lexington will no longer be a required check in. 

We're hoping this eases some of the crowding at Lexington.  A racer will have many options to resupply prior to Waverly.  La Benite, Cooley Lake, Ft. Osage, Napoleon and Lexington are all options prior to Waverly.  Typically, one stop is all that is needed from Kaw Point to Waverly. 

Let's march through what your first day might look like.

Monday, August 3 you'll come by Kaw Point Park anytime between noon and 8pm to drop off your waiver and pick up your tshirt and required safety card. You are also welcome to stage your boat to make the next morning easier for you. We will have a presence at the park from noon on Monday, August 3 up until the 8am start the next day.  We've never had an issue with damage to a boat but this is still at your discretion to leave your boat.  Please do not leave gear or paddles.  Just your boat to make race morning easier for you. 

The morning of the race you'll want to arrive at Kaw Point fairly early ahead of your start time.  The parking lot will fill up fast and we will overflow along the curb of the NorthPoint building outside the floodwall.  We've never had to exceed that. 

For the 7am solo start, racers will start launching around 530am.  Everyone thinks they can wait to put in at 645 but that won't work.  A huge line will have formed by 615am and many will not be in the water for the start.  That's no big deal.  If you start a few minutes late you've got lots of time to make that up over the next 340 miles.  But we recommend jumping in the line and getting on the water early. 

The boat ramp is the obvious place but there are other ways on the water.  Way out at the confluence is the actual "Kaw Point" and you'll find a nice, rocky slope into the river.  There should also be a line of folks launching there.  You can launch anywhere.  Try to be as quick as possible with this.  Have your gear all stashed and just slide in your boat and go hover with the pack. 

The official starting line is anywhere upstream of the boat ramp.  There is plenty of room for all of you. 

Race will start promptly at 7am unless a storm or fog causes a delay. 

Chris Luedke has a good training video of the morning of the start.  https://youtu.be/3pkYod_xkR8

By the way, his channel is FULL of great videos and you should watch all of them right now. 

Your second minor challenge (after launching) is to make the transition from the Kaw to the Missouri River.  The Kaw is usually pretty slack and the Missouri is moving pretty fast on that bend.  When racers crowd too close together we tend to have a boat or two collide and sometimes flip over.  Not a huge deal but an exhausting process for you to put your boat and gear back together and get on your way. 

The mouth of the Kaw is quite large and there is plenty of room to put between you and the crowd.  Everyone tends to aim for the middle and that's where the collisions occur.  Consider a couple of options.

1. Choose the road less traveled.  Take the north or south route.  This is slightly slower water and a tad more distance but rarely do any of these folks have trouble.

2. Start the race slow and let the chaos and adrenaline happen in front of you.  Once it subsides you'll have all the room in the world to operate.

Should you flip over, relax.  Stay with your boat and gather your gear best you can.  Hopefully, you made sure everything was secured and you've got your required PFD fitted appropriately.  The Kansas City Fire Department is typically out there with 3 of their swift water rescue teams and they will help square you away. 

Your 3rd challenge of the morning will be the gauntlet of bridges just downstream from the start.  You'll negotiate 5 of them in rapid fire.  This is very easy and we've never had anyone get in trouble through there.  But with 300 boats anything can happen. 

The water is really fast in this narrow bend and the bridge piers amplify this.  So everything comes at you pretty fast.  You'll want to line up your approach and again make sure you've got room between you and other boats.  Should you end up swimming in this stretch, your priority should still be to move yourself and your boat so that you will not hit a bridge pier.  Your fellow paddlers will help you until the KC Fire Department or one of our safety boats can assist. 

But all this will be over in a few minutes.  You'll clear the bridges and settle in to your pace.  The racers will all assume a pretty straight line of boats.  You'll pass a few boats and get passed by a few.  Pretty soon you are in your groove with others who have similar speed.  You might be stuck with some of them for days so make friends. 

After about two hours of this, the fastest boats from the 8am start will begin whizzing by you.  This will go on for awhile and is a fun part of the dual start.  Pretty soon these bigger boats will find their spots in the conga line.  If you're a solo with a chance to draft off a heavy tandem or triple, go for it.  You'll see lines of boats bow to stern all drafting. 

Don't wear yourself trying to stay on a draft that is too fast for you.  There's bound to be a tandem that matches your pace and allows you to save a few strokes while maintaining a good cruising speed. 

Remember that every boat has a different hull speed and you want to keep your boat at an efficient glide for the race.  If you're trying to push your boat past its efficient hull speed you are wasting a lot of effort with little return.  As you prepare for the race, find your sweet spot where the boat is most efficient.  This isn't necessarily a gps thing because some of us train on lakes or slower water.  It's more of a feel and listening thing.  If your bow is making a bunch of noise and throwing a big wave, you're probably trying to push that boat too fast.  Remember, this race is 340 miles.  Your goal should be to move the same speed in the first 20 miles as you do in the final 20 miles.  A consistent, steady pace all the way to St. Charles.  You will see folks that are straining hard at the start throwing a big bow wake and passing people the first 5 miles or so.  Then they will slow down and you'll end up passing them as they try to recover from this burn. 

Efficiency in all things should be your goal.  Some things to consider.

1. Weight.  There is a time penalty for every ounce you load on your boat.  The less you carry checkpoint to checkpoint, the easier it will be.  If you have a physical ground crew, this is much easier to accomplish.  You can carry just the bare essentials to get you to the next checkpoint.  If you have a virtual ground crew, you can still do your best to carry minimum needed before you can resupply.  And remember, the heaviest thing in your boat is you.  Dropping 5 pounds between now and August will pay off in many ways. 

2. Time on shore.  Consider the river as a big, fast conveyor belt.  It is doing half the work for you.  But when you pull of the river for any reason, you lose that advantage.  Stay in the boat.  Yes, there will be times when you have to pull off to get supplies or sleep.  But those are the only reasons!  Do everything possible in the boat while letting the river help you.  If you haven't figured out how to pee in your boat yet, start working on it.  You simply cannot pull over to pee ever few hours.  It wastes time but more importantly, landing and launching is exhausting.  You will quickly run out of energy.  Guys and girls both can do this.  There are many great products out there for women that work very well.  And guys too will need to practice if you're in a kayak.  An empty gatorade bottle or similar can be very handy. You can certainly eat in your boat.  If your ground crew hands you an amazing sub sandwich with everything you've been craving for 40 miles, jump back in the boat and eat it while the river pulls you at 3mph towards your goal.  Biggest mistake we see at the back of the race is folks spending way too much time on shore doing stuff they could do on the water. 

3. Efficient, present, ground crew.  Every boat is required to have a ground crew.  Your ground crew may be a physically present ground crew or a remote, virtual ground crew.  The ground crew's primary job is to be aware of the paddler's health and location.  For physical ground crews this is pretty easily done.  They will see their paddler at agreed to locations and there will be an appraisal of their well being.  For a virtual ground crew, this looks a bit different.  In a virtual set up, the ground crew and paddler arrange for text or voice contact and regular intervals.  If your virtual ground crew doesn't hear from you when expected, they are to call the safety boat hotline and report it. 

Obviously, having a physically present ground crew gives you a big advantage.  There's someone to carry all the gear you might need for a rainstorm.  And to resupply your food and liquids so you don't have to carry so much... and to cheer you on and keep you moving.

If you're lucky enough to have a ground crew, make the most of them.  Make sure they have a foldable wagon or something to carry all your stuff over long parking distances at the more crowded checkpoints.  Make sure you have good communication with them about what you'll need at each checkpoint so that there is minimum delay.  Ideally, you hit the ramp, they help you pull your boat out of the way, you wander off to the bathroom while they attack your boat removing all the trash and empty containers and replacing everything.  You come back, help launch the boat, tell them what you need at next meeting and they hand you that sub sandwich and you're gone.  Minimal time wasted. 

Assuming you've dialed all this in before race day, you're cruising along to your first meeting.  You've spent some time leading up to the race toughening up your hands with some long distance paddling.  Or some free weights.  Or some pull ups.  Or some good manual labor.  You're aware of any hot spots that are starting on your hands and adjusting your grip to spread the damage out.  Your hands will be hamburger by the end of this but your goal should be to avoid the worst of it for as long as possible.  You're drinking on a regular schedule that you've worked out with your training.  You are also eating every 20 - 30 minutes to avoid bonking out.  You're burning a ton of calories and have to keep the fire stoked.  If you've got a partner in the boat you're making sure they are eating and drinking on schedule.  As the heat begins to build you make sure you're staying cool.  You dip your hat in the river and let it keep your head and neck wet.  You applied a bunch of sunscreen at Kaw Point and plan to reapply at the first stop  You've got a tube of chapstick in one of your PFD pockets.  Sunglasses with a cord so you don't lose them.  Sun gaiter on your neck to keep the sun off and to use as a mask at checkpoints.  Everything clicking along nicely.  You've got the RaceOwl app on your phone showing the channel and your right on it.  As you round another bend you see the front end of a barge come in to view. 

Barge traffic on the Missouri is minimal but we will see 2 or 3 that week.  The come in many configurations.  Some are long haul and travel night and day.  Some are short haul and just going a half mile back and forth from a sand dredge.  Let's look at both.

Sand dredges operate mostly just during normal work hours.  These are large noisy contraptions anchored night and day midstream.  We will pass one the first morning.  The dredge itself doesn't move but the cables that anchor it to the sandy bottom will rise and fall out of the water so you need to keep your distance to one side or the other.  The dredges auger up sand from the river bottom for use in construction.  The sand is deposited in sand flats (barges) tied alongside the dredge.  As the flat is filled, a small towboat will bring an empty to the other side of the dredge, tie it off, then grab the full one and haul it to shore for offloading.  So if you see a dredge pumping sand, look for the towboat and try to stay out of their path from shore to dredge and back. 

At night, the dredges do not usually operate but they will still be there in the water.  They are supposed to leave a light on both ends but you can't count on this as the lights can fail.  You'll want to use your eyes and ears and be ready to grab that strong LED flashlight if needed to light up the river if you need to.

The other type of towboat will be pushing 2-3 barges for long distances, running night and day.  These are bigger and tend to throw a larger wake if moving upstream with a heavy load.  If you see a barge going upstream OR downstream, you need to exit the navigation channel and stay a safe distance away. 

Due to the nature of the Missouri River the towboat will be constrained to the navigation channel to assure it will have the depth to proceed.  You, being a tiny little boat, are not constrained to this channel.  So if you move out of the channel you are almost assured of not being in the way.  Typically, the off channel side of the river will be the inside of bends.  Here's a great explainer video from Chris Luedke's 340 Paddler channel.


After the barge let's imagine you're getting to the first rendezvous with your ground crew.  Missouri is blessed with some pretty good boat ramps and adjacent parks.  But the 340 tends to overwhelm the parking and ramp size so we all have to work together to keep the ramps functional.  With COVID 19 our usual huge crew of volunteers is going to be thin so we all have to work together to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. 

The big problem tends to be at the bottom of the ramp where folks are landing and launching and repacking boats all in a tight space.  We have to leave the bottom of the ramp open so folks can land.  So, once you land, grab your boat and carry it up the ramp to a spot out of the way.  Then you have time to work on the boat before jumping back in the launch line to get going again.  Only the fastest racers will get there early enough to have the ramp to themselves for the ground crew to service the boat at the waterline.  The rest of us will be crowded and will need to come up the ramp to a clear spot.  Please help this happen. 

Once you're back on the water and on your way you'll be heading to your first official checkpoint.  Waverly, MO is a blessed town in that it has TWO boat ramps.  The first is upstream of the bridge.  The second is just downstream.  You can choose either one.  Both will have food available for sale from the local boy scout troop.  Please support them!  And both ramps will have restrooms available.  So it's really a preference but you'd want to have worked it out with ground crew ahead of time.  Or, have them text you with whichever location they scout that day. 

Protocol at a checkpoint is no different.  Help keep the ramp clear and be efficient.  The difference is that at a checkpoint, you are required to check in electronically using text messaging or the RaceOwl app.  We will talk more about the app in a future dispatch. 

Checking in is a crucial part of the 340 safety plan.  Your first check in will have happened earlier that morning at Kaw Point Park before the starting gun.  Everyone will need to check in so we can confirm you started.  Volunteers will be there to help you at Kaw Point should you have a problem.  So by the time you get to Waverly, you will have done it once already. 

The Waverly cutoff time is 8pm.  This is 13 hours for the solos and 12 hours for everyone else.  If you don't make it there by 8pm, you are out of the race.  So efficiency day 1 is super important.  One of our safety boats, The Reaper, acts as a pace boat and will run all day long at precisely the speed needed to make the 8pm cutoff.  Hopefully, you never see the Reaper behind you.  And we really hope you never see it in front of you.  If the Reaper beats you to Waverly, you are out.  Plan and train accordingly.

Here's a Chris Luedke video on the Reaper  https://youtu.be/4dKkbbstC_0

With everyone in by 8pm, it's unlikely we'd have anyone considering spending the night in Waverly.  There will be still be about an hour of decent light.  It will be hot, muggy and noisy at Waverly.  And you've got another cutoff time to beat tomorrow at Glasgow.  Better to make some miles in the evening and overnight if the weather and other conditions allow.

Night travel requires navigation lighting.  Here's another great Luedke video on night paddling which includes a primer on navigation lights.

You'll be surprised by the second wind you get once the sun goes down.  You're surrounded by paddlers and with the heat of the day fading, everyone gets a little boost.  The moon comes up and you wonder why anyone would ever want to paddle in the daytime.  Some of your best miles will come at night.  And guess what?  The Reaper takes the night off.  She usually parks at Hill's Island about 12 miles downstream of Waverly and doesn't pick up your trail again until 6am.  So, if you paddle most of Tuesday night, odds are you won't see the Reaper again. 

So that's a busy day 1.  You checked in twice.  Once at Kaw Point and once at Waverly.  You passed a sand dredge and maybe even a barge.  You met your ground crew a couple of times.  You peed in a bottle a few times with no mishaps.  You ate and drank on a good schedule with plenty of electrolytes and food you could tolerate.  And you got through the heat of the day and into the night. 

We'll go through some more miles in the next dispatch. 

REMINDER:  A deferral window will open soon for those that need to push back their entry to 2021.  This is an exception we're making this year because of COVID 19.  You'll receive this link via email in the next couple of weeks.  If you're racing, you don't need to do anything  You only need to complete the form if you are opting to NOT race in 2020.

REMINDER:  We're asking you to have a mask aboard your boat during the 340 and to provide your ground crew with masks as well.  In crowded checkpoint situations, we ask that you wear a mask.  The best we've found are the sun gaiter type masks which many racers already use to keep the sun exposure down.  This is worn around the neck and can be easily brought up as needed and dropped back down when not  They are very reasonable if you get the no name brands.  Typically you get 5 or 6 in a pack for $25 and they are machine washable and last forever.  So one pack will take care of you and your ground crew.  But any mask will work.  If you've already got something you like, use it. 

Please, Please visit the 340 Paddler Youtube channel and shorten your learning curve with the great work of Chris Luedke.  Here's a link to his entire catalog.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTAGGN9ArvdwcofYeM1ZWQ/videos

Stay safe and well.  Let's keep working towards August!


« Last Edit: 06/15/20 at 11:01:56 by N/A »  
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Reply #2 - 07/07/20 at 23:39:15
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #3

We're less than a month out!

We continue to prepare for a safe adventure.  Here are the Covid adjustments we've made.

1. Virtual safety meeting (you will receive a link the week prior to the race to view)
2. Reduced number of participants (Roster is cut by 33%)
3. Masks required on boat ramps and at food stands
4. Two starts, 7am and 8am despite smaller roster
5. Outdoor T-shirt and packet pickup with expanded time, August 3rd, noon to 8pm at Kaw Point Park
6. No awards ceremony.  Trophies and medals awarded as you finish. 

We are counting on YOU to be safe and smart.  Outdoor activities are safer than indoor gatherings.  But they still require smart behavior.  Conversations should be 6 feet apart and masked.  Hand sanitizer should be aboard every boat and carried by ground crew.  Sharing of food and drink is not advised.   

All things considered, hot, humid, outdoor conditions are far safer than similarly populated indoor, climate controlled scenarios.  But that doesn't mean you aren't socially distant and masked.  And keeping your hands clean. 

We will continue our preparation.  So far, the Covid situation has not derailed the race.  Our permits and safety plan remain approved by the powers that be.  This can change and if it does we will let you know. 

Besides Covid-19, there are the usual aspects of safety to consider for the MR340.

1. Boat number:  Please check the roster here: http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1575833548
Verify that you have a valid boat number.  If it says you need a new one, that means you chose one that was already taken.  Send a new boat number choice.  You can use CTRL-F to search the page for boat numbers that are taken.  Ideally, the numbers should be minimum 3 inches high and reflective.  The kind of numbers you can buy for your mailbox are perfect. 

2. Reflective tape:  Make sure your boat has reflective tape.  Most commercially produced boats come with this.  Shine a flashlight on your boat in a dark garage and you'll see it.  If not, get some and place it along the boat so you're easy to see by fishermen, towboats, etc.  Also a good idea to put some around the shaft of your paddle in case you drop it in the water and need to spot it in the dark. 

3. Get a Ground Crew:  Everyone is required to have a ground crew.  You listed one when you registered.  They can either be physically present during the race or virtual.  A physical ground crew is obviously better and can help you finish by supplying you at checkpoints and keeping an eye on your condition.  A virtual ground crew's primary job is to simply track you and make sure you are staying in contact with them on a pre-planned basis.  If they lose track of you they must contact us to say they are concerned.  Your job is to make sure they never get concerned. 

4. WEAR YOUR PFD:  PFD is required to be worn at ALL TIMES while in your boat.  No Exceptions.  Safety boats can document infractions with cell phone photos and send them to the race director.  Time penalties will be added to final results.  You can wear inflatables but beware that these often fail to deploy if not worn properly.  Please test your inflatable prior to the race.  A good, regular PFD will have handy pockets in front and be comfortable.  It will also save your life. 

5. Navigation Lights:  Required on all boats.  Red/green on bow.  White on stern.  These are perfect: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0014BJ5WS/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_LMubFb5Q0X549  They run for 100 hours on a single battery.  Can be attached simply with velcro to any boat.  Use black tape to tape off the portion that shines towards the paddler.  Make sure you are visible from 360 degrees.  There should be no angle where fewer than two lights are visible.  Set them to be steady on.. not blinking. 

6. Strong Flashlight:  A strong flashlight in your boat is essential at night.  You can use it to shine up ahead and see what that noise is.  Or to just turn on inside your kayak turning the whole boat into a glow stick if you're worried that fisherman can't see you.  Or to signal a safety boat if you're pulled over and need help.

7. Rain gear/extra clothes:  Assume you will either get rained on or otherwise cold at night.  The steady drain of energy and calories can bite you at night and you can start to shiver.  Simply putting on a rain shell under your PFD can reverse this immediately.  Also, every boat must carry a foil "space" blanket per paddler for emergency warming. 

8. Cell phone:  Every boat must have at least one functional cell phone an a means of keeping it charged.  This is your lifeline.  Figure out how to keep it dry and charged aboard your boat.

9. Secure all gear:  What happens if you flip over?  What will you lose in the dark?  Can you get back in your boat?  What's your plan?

10. Duct Tape: Fix your paddle.  Fix a small hole in your boat.  Tape up your hands. 

11. Bring a lighter.  Almost no weight penalty.  Can start a fire.  Your ancestors would be so jealous.

12. Some kind of footwear:  Many folks end up barefoot and that's fine.  But if you have to walk out of a situation it might be hundreds of yards to a road and then 5 miles until you find a house.  Some sort of shoes stashed somewhere on your boat is important. 

13.  A whistle is required equipment per our insurance.  Attach to your pfd.  This can help us find you in the dark.

14.  While we're attaching things to your PFD, a small button flashlight or other way to signal is important.  Imagine separation from boat in the dark and you've swam to shore.  All you have is what's on your PFD.  So you've got a whistle and the flashlight or a chemical light to get the attention of a passing safety boat or fellow paddler. 

15. Bring some cash:  Especially important for the unsupported paddler.  We have been able to get food vendors at every checkpoint and even some non checkpoints.  These are usually local civic groups or boy scout troops raising money.  You can eat pretty good at one of these food stands for $5-$10.  Here are the places that we have food organized:

Franklin Island
Cooper's Landing
Jefferson City
New Haven
Finish Line

Please support these fine folks.  If they don't make any money, they won't come back.  Some of these same boy scout troops have been serving pancakes or burgers to paddlers for 12+ years.  Some of these scouts weren't even born when we did the first MR340.  Help them out if you can. 

In a pinch, if you're out of food or water, ask a safety boat.  There is no penalty for getting a drink from a safety boat.  They will share what they have.

16. Plan with ground crew now:  Sit down and look at a map and start coming up with plan A, B and C for days 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Nobody sticks to plan A but you have to have one so you can throw it away.  Your plan A will be where you optimally will meet, what you will want to eat at each stop, etc.  If your crew is virtual, make sure you develop a plan like "I will text you at every stop and will tell you what my estimated time is at the next stop"  A good ground crew will be keeping tabs on the weather for you... and also any news about barges, etc.  Here's a nice little planning map put together by Steve Schnarr of River Relief!  http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/Attachments/MR340checkpointmap_matrix2020.pdf?fb...

17. Watch the weather:  If storms are possible, grab what you might need from ground crew.  Do you need a small tent?  Do you need extra clothes?  Is it smarter to wait at a checkpoint and catch some sleep?  If you are paddling and see distant lightning, start thinking about where you will pull off.  Once a storm unleashes with wind, whitecaps, lightning and pouring rain, it's too late to pull off...you're fighting to just keep the boat upright.  Better to be a half hour early pulling off than a half minute late.

18. DON'T Paddle In FOG:  There are spots along the course that almost always fog up every year.  It doesn't matter what fancy equipment you have or what GPS... fog is dangerous.  Your GPS doesn't know if there's a barge or a dredge dead ahead.  It's not worth it.  Budget time for fog.  If you start seeing the little wisps of fog dancing on the water, it's time to pull over.  Pull out your foil blanket and get some sleep!

19. Make sure your boat is visible if on shore:  If you pull over to sleep, please don't pull your boat up into the trees.  Leave it where a safety boat can see it from the river.  This is especially true at the back of the pack where the sweep boat is making sure no boat gets left behind.  At night, go ahead and leave your nav lights on if possible. 

20.  Thumbs Up:  If a safety boat is checking on you when pulled over or just drifting, they may just issue you a thumbs up.  This is actually a question from them...Are you good?  We're looking for you to return the thumbs up.  This is instead of getting close enough to yell "Are you good?"  99% of the time, ya good.  But sometimes there's a problem.  If you need us, just wave your arms which means we need to talk. 

21. Proceed as the way opens: There will be roadblocks that stop you and there will be opportunities for easy miles.  Don't beat you head against a wall but also, don't turn down the gifts that will come.  If your plan A was to sleep on night 2 from midnight to 5am, but you're feeling great at midnight and the moon is beautiful and you're with a good group of people...keep going!  By the same token if your plan was to paddle night 2 but there's rain and thunder, climb in the tent and let the beautiful sleep wash over you.  It will pay off later.

22. Use the river to stay cool: Heat stroke knocks folks out every year.  Especially day 1.  It will very possibly be in the mid to upper 90s with brutal heat indexes.  BUT, the water in the river will be around 80 degrees.  Dip your hat in it.  Dip your sponge in it.  Use it to help your body stay ahead of things.  At a checkpoint or a sandbar or some SAFE shallow spot with your PFD on, squat in the water up to your neck and really get a reboot. 

23. Stick with a group:  Groups always move faster.  And the miles go easier.  If you latch on with a group of two or three boats you can keep everyone safer and get to St. Charles faster.  AND your ground crews end up travelling together and looking out for each other. 

24. Avoid Death by 1000 Cuts:  For most, there is no one big moment that ends their race.  It's a combination of things that knocks them out.  Sun and heat leads to not drinking enough leads to not eating enough leads to feeling sick leads to dropping out...  Or a bad hand blister leads to over using the other hand leads to a sore shoulder leads to leaning awkwardly leads to lower back tightening leads to dropping out.  Choose your own disaster.  Pay attention to your body and put out those small fires before they become out of control. 

25. How Do You Eat An Elephant?  One bite at a time.  340 miles is a looooong way.  Missouri is a big state and the river is crooked.  But you're not doing it all at once.  You're doing it in 30-50 mile bites.  You're doing it one river bend at a time.  One song at a time.  Sometimes one stroke at a time.  Your boat is this little universe that you control.  It's all you have to worry about.  She'll take care of you.  Just keep her pointed in the right direction and keep her moving.  Keep your body fed, watered and protected.  Eventually, you've gone more miles than you have left to go.  Every 3.4 miles is 1% of the course.  Can you paddle 3.4 miles?  Of course you can.  3.4 miles is nothing.  How about 34 miles?  That's 10% of the course.  You'll do that in the first handful of hours.  There will be lots of small victories that will add up fast.  The veterans will tell you, this is mostly a mental event.  Your brain will tell you to quit more than once.  But your brain is just... you.  You get to decide what it tells you.  You can say to yourself, out loud, I am doing this... I don't get tired... I feel great... I can't believe how good I feel... This is so much better than being at work... I am loving this... Sounds corny, I know... but ask anyone who routinely does ultra distance events... it's proven medicine.  Consider the alternative self talk... This sucks... I can't do this... I hate this... what am I doing out here... how did I think I could finish this... That person, saying those things, is never going to finish.  Yep, you'll be hurting.  But you don't have to amplify that pain.  You don't have to give it a voice. 

67% of folks who start at Kaw Point end up finishing the MR340.  Real things happen out there.  Folks get stomach issues.  Elbows swell up.  Boats get cracked.  This can happen to anyone.  No shame in that.  You lined up and went for it.  Don't push yourself to an ambulance ride.  If your arm is swollen or you can't keep food down it's time to call it.  You're smart and you'll know if that time comes. 

If you're pulling out of the race you must notify race officials!  Tell safety boat or use the DNF feature on the RaceOwl app. 

26. FAMILIARIZE yourself with RACEOWL
RaceOwl is the easy to use tracking app developed and maintained by Jon Marble, a multi year MR340 Veteran.  With it, you can do all sorts of thing and your friends and family can watch your progress.  Here's some instructions from Jon about how to familiarize yourself with the app for tracking and checking in at checkpoints.


We have upgraded the RaceOwl website to track and report the current status of all MR340 racers. To take advantage of these upgrades, racers should track their position via satellite tracker or the RaceOwl app in addition to the normal required checkpoint logging.

We strongly encourage tracking so that:

Safety crews have an approximate current location of each racer

Ground crews can know when to expect you at the next checkpoint or paddlestop.

Spectators can enjoy tracking racers during the event.

There are two ways to track your position during the race:

Use a satellite tracker, such as Garmin InReach or SPOT Tracker  OR

Use the RaceOwl app for iOS or Android.

The benefit of using a satellite tracker is that you will have continuous connectivity over the entire race course. However, satellite trackers can be very costly and don’t provide the checkpoint logging capabilities required by the race.

The RaceOwl app offers the ability to both track the racer and handle the required checkpoint logging.

So you can learn more about how to track, use the RaceOwl app and use the website during the MR340, we have created a series of training materials and opportunities:

Download/update the RaceOwl app for iOS or Android.



Review the training documents available on RaceOwl.com. (http://raceowl.com/Home/Training)

Follow the MR340 Facebook page and Rivermiles Forum to learn about upcoming Zoom training meeting(s) and/or training videos.

It is essential that you train on your own, attend a virtual race or participate in other race events, such as the Freedom Race, that use RaceOwl so you can become familiar with the app and the RaceOwl website ahead of the MR340.

If you have any questions, contact RaceOwl at RaceOwl.Info@gmail.com

Remember, your first check in from the RaceOwl app on your phone happens the day before the race at Kaw Point Park between noon and 8pm, August 3rd.  Please come with the app on your phone and if you have questions we can help answer them there.  Once you get that first check in under your belt, the next one isn't until the next day at Waverly.  We'll iron out the questions for you if any.  But if you download the app and play with it a little, you'll catch on quickly.

As always, send me your questions...  scott@rivermiles.com

« Last Edit: 06/07/21 at 21:08:09 by N/A »  
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Reply #3 - 07/28/20 at 12:19:33
Scott Mansker   Ex Member

Dispatch #4

Flood and Weather Outlook

I hate to even bring up the F word (flood) but it's something we have to talk about.  Recent heavy rain in KC and upstream have primed the situation.  And more rain is expected in the next 72 hours.  So, while there is a lot of room in the river, and a lot of room for optimism, we all just need to keep an eye on it.  The good news is that we should have all the information by Friday evening after the river forecasts come out.  And before most of you would be traveling. 

Another thing to note.  With the Kaw (Kansas) River moving so much water, we probably won't have the slack pool at Kaw Point that we are accustomed to.  So there will be a bit of a treadmill for you to manage the morning of the race to stay behind the starting line.  Just gently paddle upstream and drift down as a warm up or find some slower water along the bank, stick the nose of your boat in the mud and hold position with a paddle.  Easy enough.

On a brighter note, the temperatures are looking good. Mid 80s with lows in the mid 60s.  This will likely mean an increased chance of fog.  But you'll be faster during the day with lower temps and high water.  So a bit of a fog layover night one is not going to hurt anyone.  You'll be much farther along the river than you would otherwise have been with low water and high temps.  Please don't paddle in fog.

Monday, August 3rd.

Just a reminder that the safety meeting is held online.  A link will be sent Tuesday, July 28 to your email.  Please check spam.  The video is hosted on Youtube and should be able to be watched on any device.  Please forward to your partner or ground crew as you feel is needed.  Here's the link as well: https://bit.ly/MR340Video

A waiver will also be attached to the email.  I have also attached it to this post at the bottom of the page.   Please print this and fill it out legibly and bring it to Kaw Point on Monday, August 3 anytime between noon and 8pm.  Masks required and social distancing from those around you.  We are offering an 8 hour window in hopes that crowding will be minimal.  Ground crew doesn't have to come.  But we will have you check in for the first time at Kaw Point using your phone and RaceOwl if you've downloaded it or MR340 Checkpoint Texter or similar app.  We want to make sure you have help for that first one so there will be a Check In table where you will complete it live.  And questions can be answered.  So if your ground crew is there, they can do that part with you.  OR, you can just show them later... they do NOT need to be there.   

Feel free to stage your boat that day at your risk with no paddles or gear.  We will have folks all night at Kaw Point watching boats and safety boats. 

A High Water Race

Higher water is faster and that's the good news.  You'll complete each leg of the race in less time, assuming you Stay IN The Boat as much as possible.  If the river is moving well and the temperatures are moderate, what are you doing on shore?  You will got shore time with fog or storms.  Make hay while you can!

The bad news high water means less sandbars and less shoreline.  And that some places will be more challenging to land your boat. 

Less shoreline means your vigilance about weather is all the more important.  High water limits your chances of an easy exit from the river so if you start to see signs of bad weather like distant lightning.... or if fog starts to build on the water...it's important to start looking for whatever exit the river gives you.  Because there may not be another easy shot for a mile or two.  And that's a long way to go when things get urgent. 

We're hoping Hills Island will have some sand.  We still plan to have a safety boat there starting at sunset day 1.  It's usually a much quieter place to try to sleep than Waverly or Miami.  However, with faster water, most folks will pass Hills Island before they're ready to sleep. 

This generally means that Miami is very crowded.  And nearly impossible to sleep because of slamming car doors and just... lots of people.  Again, with a good fast river and hopefully good weather, there are some easy miles to be made night one. 

Between Miami and Glasgow we will place a safety boat at the ruins of Dalton Bottoms ramp.  The flood broke the ramp last year and washed out the road.  Your ground crew can't get there but if you set off from Miami, hoping for Glasgow and just can't make it, Dalton is about 2/3 of the way there and still has a flat area up top that you could rest.  Pit toilet is still there but hasn't been serviced in over a year and who knows that that means.  But the Safety Boat Quindaro will be there lighting up the ramp and probably have a little fire going.  And they'll have a scouting report on the toilet.

Cooper's is another ramp that can be a bit tricky at some water levels.  Too soon to know what we will have there but be ready if arriving in the dark to listen to instructions from our ramp crew on best line to take for getting in that eddy by the ramp. 

Good chance that the peninsula at Hermann will be submerged creating a bit of a whitewater wash downstream of the checkpoint.  Remember, you can simply portage up and around to the lower ramp... about 20 yards, and be below the patch of white water.  Don't sweat this at all.  It will makes sense when you see it and you'll understand.  Land at the upstream ramp in Hermann (marked by our flag and flasher)  and you have the option to depart at the adjacent downstream ramp.

The only other ramp I can think of that presents any weirdness is Washington.  It's not a Paddle Stop or a checkpoint but folks stop there sometimes.  At some water levels the ramp is hard to hit because of current.

Our finish line will be marked with the finish banner and tents and lights. Volunteers will be there all night and day.  Our current plan is to use the ramp near the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center.  If that were to be unsafe for any reason, we would improvise on the beach just upstream of the ramp, shortening your race a few feet. 

Covid 19

Just one more reminder that all our permits say we will be using masks at the shore sites we've been allowed to use for this event.  Keep your mask on board your boat and when you're 100 yards out, just slip it on and come on in for a landing.  Our volunteers will be at the waterline, wearing masks.  And because their masks are for you, they are hoping you'll wear yours...for them.  They will be there to help grab the nose of your boat and make landing as easy as possible.  Please maintain the mask in situation like that where 6 feet is not possible.  Like if you go get in line for food... please wear a mask.  Now, if you go off to your distant vehicle and nobody is nearby, you can opt to take you mask down.  But be ready to re-deploy. 

If you or your ground crew should start to show symptoms, please be smart and exit the race. 


Speaking of landing at a ramp, some folks are pretty wobbly those first few steps out of the kayak.  I have seen dozens of people stand up on the ramp for the first time in 8 hours, and then fall backwards into the water.  The ramp is sloped and your balance is off.  If you stand straight up, you'll start to tip back.  And your balancing muscles are exhausted and you will reach, well, a tipping point. 

Lean forward those first few steps.  Better to fall forward where you can catch yourself than to fall backwards.  You'll hear us at the ramp as we're helping you say, "Lean Forward"... this is why.


If 300 boats start, about 200 will finish.  That means 100 boats will quit or DNF (did not finish) somewhere along the way.  The most important part of that decision is to let the race officials know via the same way you've been checking in.  We need to know boat number, boat ramp and DNF in the message.  RaceOwl and MR340 CheckPoint Texter both have a DNF button.  If you send a regular text, just include the pertinent info.

Obviously, not telling us you've left the race creates huge problems.  You will be expected at the next checkpoint and when you don't show up, we have to start looking.  You can't just mumble it to a boy scout as he hands you a burger.  It has to be done officially.  Everyone has been really good about this over the 14 previous years. 

Awards and Souvenirs

There are trophies for 1st-3rd of each division.  Medals for all finishers.  And the very first boat to make it to St. Charles based on total finish time, gets their name engraved on the Governor's Cup along with all the names from the previous 14 races.  Sadly, we won't be doing the usual awards ceremony due to the virus, but you'll get your award as you finish. 

And our souvenir table will be open during the day on Thursday and Friday.  Please stop and support!  The proceeds go to Missouri River Relief who help keep our river clean and do educational programs.  And they are out on the river helping provide safety every year for the MR340.  You'll see their boats out there.  Big, beautiful aluminum boats built to haul an entire 4th grade class on the river or a load of tires they've just removed from the river.  Great people, great cause.  Please support and get some sweet swag. 

The souvenir table will also be available at Kaw Point, August 3rd, noon to 8pm.

The time is upon us.  One more storm system to get through.  Keep the faith!  We hope to see you at Kaw Point in a few days.

Thank you all! 



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