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Re: 2008 MR340 Dispatches (Read 23038 times)
06/16/08 at 23:49:09
MR340 Dispatch #1
We are 30 days away from the 3rd annual running of the Missouri River 340. Like the
previous two years, we are going to be sending all participants a couple of emails a week
to help you in your preparations. The point is to get you thinking of questions and to
get the information flowing both directions so that as the big day approaches you feel
confident and ready to finish this race and meet all your goals. Well, most of your
goals. The realistic ones, anyway.
Today's email is simple. It's just a timeline of the key events of the race.
Monday, July 14th:
Race Check-In and Safety Briefing
Check in and Safety meeting are held at the same location. We should know by tomorrow
whether this will be at Kaw Point or at the Hilton Garden Inn just up the hill. This is
a mandatory meeting. Check in will be between 4pm and 7pm. The Safety Briefing will
start promptly at 7pm and go no later than 7:45. Then you are free to go back to boat
rigging, socializing or sleeping.
Kaw Point is once again being made available for you to leave your boat overnight Monday.
Camping is also available there at no charge. This is not usually a camping park, but
an exception is being made for you guys. We can't have fires, however. Also, you should
know that it is not the quietest place with train tracks nearby... and racers shuffling
around at all hours, re-rigging this and that. But the bathrooms will be open. The city
is providing a park ranger on duty from 4pm Monday to 8am Tuesday. Many racers are
arranging lodging at the Hilton Garden Inn up the hill. They are offering a discount to
racers in the 340. Their phone number is 913-342-7900.
Tuesday, July 15th:
Boat Launch and Race Start
Location: Kaw Point Park
The race will begin promptly at 8am. It could be a challenge to launch 150 boats prior
to the race start. Even the first year, when we only had 15 boats, there were some boats
not yet launched when the gun went off. But mostly this is because Travis Worley wanted
to wait until the tv cameras left before he flipped his canoe. If you want to be certain
to have your boat in the water and ready to go, you'll want to be at Kaw Point pretty
early. Get your boat loaded and in the water and tied off to the bank somewhere and you
should be fine.
Like last year, there will be music and fans and reporters and some VIPs. Cool thing is
that you guys are the stars of this show. Be prepared for the TV and print media to
maybe ask you a few questions.
Friday, July 18th:
Location: Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center
Food will start being served at 5:30pm. Racers meals will be bought by Rivermiles.
Everyone else who wishes to eat will need to pay the folks who run the Nature Center.
This is one of their fundraisers to keep the museum going. There is no charge for
attending the awards ceremony. Everyone is welcome.
Awards will start being handed out at 7pm. There will be a good view of the finish line
and more racers will likely be finishing as the dinner goes on. They will be recognized
as they land with your standing ovations. There will also be prize drawings for all in
Saturday, July 19th:
The race officially ends Saturday at noon. Exactly 100 hours after leaving Kansas City.
There will be a brief awards ceremony to recognize those that finished after the end of
the Friday night program. This should all be wrapped up by 1pm.
Those are all of our hard-fast times and dates... except for the small matter of the
checkpoint deadlines. I'll include them here for your perusal.
Kaw Point, mile 367, race begins, 8am.
Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 6pm Tuesday.
Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 11pm Tuesday.
Miami, mile 262, (32 miles) Noon Wed.
Glasgow, mile 226, (36 miles) 9pm Wed.
Cooper's Landing, mile 170, (56 miles) 9pm Thurs.
Noren (Jeff City), mile 144, (26 miles) 5am Friday
Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 8pm Friday
Washington, mile 68, (30 miles) 4am Saturday
St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (39 miles) noon Saturday
In the next email I'll talk about the lighting and pfd requirements this year. I'll also
give an update on the Missouri River flooding situation.
Please pass this email on to ground crews, etc. who may benefit from it. And feel free
to reply to me with questions.
I'm looking forward to seeing you all again and meeting the new folks.
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Reply #1 -
06/17/08 at 01:51:43
MR340 Dispatch #2
This year there are 3 major rule changes that you need to be aware of. They have to do
with navigation lights, PFDs (lifejackets) and performance enhancing drugs.
As part of our permit with the Coast Guard and Missouri Water Patrol, we have pledged to
go beyond the minimum requirements for a canoe or kayak underway at night and are asking
all participants to have full navigation lights. This means red and green lights on your
bow and a white light on your stern. This is to protect you out there at night because
as low in the water as you are, it's very easy to mistake a simple white light (minimum
requirement last year) for just reflected starlight, moonlight or shorelight on the water.
There are lots of ways to equip your boat with inexpensive, lightweight, long lasting nav
lights. Some of these ways have been discussed on our forum at this link:
Another rule change from 2007 is about PFD usage. Again, part of earning our permit this
year included a promise that we would require full-time PFD usage during the race. I
know this is a sore spot for some paddlers, but the majority of racers in both of our
previous years have worn them full time without any problems.
It would be in your best interest as training time winds down, to start training WITH the
pfd on. Make sure you have one that is comfortable. There are many high quality pfds
available for paddlers. If you have specific questions about your model, I'll be happy
I would also encourage racers to consult this thread on the forum:
This is our drug policy. It is taken directly from the WADA standards. It is very
specific about what substances are banned. Don't worry, we do allow caffeine and
Those are the 3 major rule changes for 2008. So, you've got 28 days to rig your lights,
find a PFD you can live with and beat any performance enhancing addictions you might
have. Plenty of time.
You should have selected a boat number when you filled out your entry form. It is your
responsibility to have these numbers on both sides of your bow. These will ideally be at
least 3 inches high. These are available at Wal-mart for around .50 cents each. And
those are the fancy, reflective kind. Recommended. In fact, I'd recommend some
reflective tape or decals at various spots on your boat and paddle...
And if you haven't yet been to the forum, I recommend you spend some time there and do
some reading. There is lots of good advice from veterans of the previous races. And
it's a good way to get to know some folks prior to being on the water together. It is a
very friendly, welcoming group of people, which is nice, though I am a big disappointed
in the lack of trash talking. I'm hoping it heats up just a little in the next 4 weeks.
One other note. We're having some trouble with our server sending email to anyone with
an sbcglobal.net email address. If you have a tandem partner with such an address, you
might forward this message to him/her until we get the problem resolved. I'm also
posting these dispatches on the forum so they can be read there as well.
In the next dispatch I'll talk about checkpoint procedures, barge traffic, sand dredges
and navigation aids. You won't want to miss it. It will be kinda like PBS only not as
Keep sending me questions. Talk to you soon.
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Reply #2 -
06/18/08 at 02:29:48
MR340 Dispatch #3
Racers and Racefans,
Good news. We've got the Wyandotte room at the Hilton Garden Inn
again for the safety meeting this year. Same place we did it last
year. Same comfortable chairs. Same entertainment. The meeting will
begin at 7pm and will most likely be done by 730. However, check-in
will be anytime between 4-7pm. Everyone must check in by 7pm. Check
in should take about 5 minutes. This is when you get your t-shirt and
some important slips of paper and information. It also proves you
were at the mandatory safety meeting. Since it's mandatory and all.
The safety meeting is, in a sense, your first checkpoint. You will
sign in there and it is assumed that you will then show up at Kaw
Point in the morning and be in a boat. IF for some reason everything
falls apart and you can't make it to Kaw Point in the morning, you are
expected to contact race officials and let us know. Otherwise, we
will be looking for you at the Lexington Checkpoint and you won't be
there. This would be very bad.
This is sort of the Golden Rule of utlra marathon racing... if you
drop out, your FIRST priority is to notify race officials. Most
people drop out at a checkpoint. If that's the case, it's easy. You
indicate on the sign sheet that you are withdrawing. Done. But let's
say you decide to dropout at a boat ramp somewhere that is NOT an
official checkpoint. If that's the case, it's your job to make sure
that the next checkpoint down the line gets that information. You can
have your ground crew drive you to that checkpoint and sign out, or
you can contact a race official from the phone list provided.
Since we're on the subject of checkpoints, let's discuss the
checkpoint sign in process. At each CP, we have volunteers who have
decided it would be fun to spend hours and hours standing at a hot
boat ramp, night and day, waiting for you to show up. They will have
clipboards with copies of the official race roster on them. Your name
and boat number are on there. When you land at a checkpoint, it's
your job to sign in next to your name. The volunteer will put the
time down... you just sign. You MAY designate this task to your
ground crew once you land. But ultimately, it's your responsibility
that it gets done. Failure to sign in is a disqualification.
Do I have to get out of my boat?
No. The volunteers will do their best to hand you the clipboard and
pen. You DO have to make contact with the shore. Boat to shore,
paddle to shore, hand to shore, etc.
Won't the early checkpoints be very busy?
Yep. Lexington will be quite hectic at times. We will have 4
clipboards going at Lexington. You only need to sign one.
What if I get to a checkpoint and I don't see anyone?
Please make a good faith effort to find the volunteer. They may be in
the bathroom or in their car. If you absolutely can't find anyone,
phone a race official and let us know. Then head to your next
What if I don't make a cutoff time?
Because of the nature of our safety boat placement, we have to stick
to a strict schedule. We cannot afford for the rearguard to get too
stretched out. If you fail to make the cutoff, you are disqualified.
You may continue to paddle on your own, unsupported by the race, but
the sweep boat (me) will now be ahead of you and not behind you.
Factor that into your decision.
Will there be food and water at the checkpoints?
Yes. Most of the towns are providing some sort of food and drink
options as fundraisers for local organizations. There is also free
water at several of the boat ramps. Consult our forum for more
information or stay tuned to future dispatches where we will walk you
through the race one town at a time.
Next, lets spend a minute talking about Aids to Navigation. The
Missouri River is thoroughly marked with Nav Aids by the United States
Coast Guard. These are designed to guide boats along the safe path of
the deep river channel. This is essential for barge traffic with 9
foot drafts and massive tonnage. They are limited to operating in
YOU are NOT limited to operating in this channel. Your boat can go
lots of places a barge or motorboat cannot. So, why should you know
the meaning of the nav markers? There are a couple of reasons.
First, the channel is where the fastest, deepest water is. And it's
good to be there. Second, you will encounter some barge traffic
during your race experience. It's good then to know where the channel
is so that you can get out of it. The upbound or downbound barge and
tow will need most of that channel for itself. If you know where he's
going, then you know how to get out of his way.
What you will see out there are shore markers and buoys. They come in
two colors. Red and Green. Shore markers are large wooden squares or
diamonds set up in the treeline. As you head to St. Charles, the
green shore markers will be on the right. Red ones on the left. They
are placed strategically at the beginning and end of bends, mostly.
And they mark what side of the river a tow or motorboat should operate
on. Buoys are located in midstream. Not everywhere, but just in
places where more delineation of the channel is needed. So, going
upstream, a towboat would keep green buoys on his left and red buoys
on his right. Because outside of these, the Coast Guard has
determined the water is too shallow for a tow's safe passage.
If this all sounds hopelessly complicated, relax. Within your first 5
miles out there you will get the hang of it and it will be easy.
Essentially, you want to be aware of where the channel is for the two
purposes. 1. Going fast and safe when there is no barge present. 2.
Staying clear of the channel when there is a barge present. I'll
spend some more time on nav aids tomorrow as well.
Barge traffic on the Missouri River is extremely low relative to the
traffic on the Mississippi and Ohio and Illinois river systems. But
they are out there. So, what do you do if you see one?
First, determine his course. Look where he is headed and see the
shore markers. He must basically play dot to dot with these
markers... so you should know exactly what his path will be. Be aware
that he may need to cross from one side of the river to another if the
shore markers indicate this. Once you know where he needs to be, stay
out of his path.
Second, assess his wake. Some barges throw up enormous wakes that
stand in midstream and create havoc on the water for 20 minutes after
the barge has left the scene. Rebound waves off both shores can add
to the mess. For this reason, it's smart to stay off channel and
determine just how bad it's going to be. If the barge wake looks
severe, simply pull behind a wing dike. (stone structures built into
river to help maintain a deep channel) Behind these wing dikes, out of
the current, you are safe. Wing dikes are almost everywhere on the
Missouri. Think of them as a breakwater or harbor where the waves are
Once the barge is past and the waves have mellowed, you can get back
on the river and get moving again.
Some barges are empty and don't create a big wake situation. If
that's the case, you can just keep on paddling, OFF CHANNEL and out of
Sand dredges are a slightly different story. These are anchored in
midstream for the purpose of harvesting sand from the river bottom
which is used in construction, concrete, etc. These dredges are
stationary when operating. However, they are serviced by small tows
that push sand barges to and fro. The tows bring the dredge an empty
barge and then take away his full one. This process repeats all day
long. So when you approach a dredging operation, you will want to
observe this process. Note where the sand is being taken. It's
usually somewhere on the nearby shore where there are, not
coincidentally, huge piles of sand. Once you find this, you will know
the path the service tows will be taking. Avoid this path and you
should be fine. And give a nice wide berth while passing the dredge
since they are anchored to the river bottom with cables which can
sometimes come up out of the water if the dredge is getting pushed
around a bit by the wind. I think we pass maybe 4 dredging operations
between KC and St. Charles. The first is within an hour of leaving
Kaw Point. But usually they suspend operations until we are all past.
The dredges downstream from there won't have that luxury, since we
will be so spread out by the time we meet them. Dredges are nothing
to sweat. Watch and observe, then make the decision to avoid the
service tow's path to shore. Easy enough.
We will talk more in upcoming posts about proper transiting of barges
and dredges. I recognize that this is a source of some anxiety for
those that have never experienced it. The commercial traffic on the
river DOES demand your respect, but it can easily be handled safely.
There is always a place for you to go to be well out of danger. The
key is simply to make the right decision quickly. And just think,
worst case is you pull to shore and just haul your boat up on the
rocks until it passes. Stretch your legs, apply some sunscreen, eat
that sandwich... then get back on your way once everything looks good.
For some perspective, I believe we had a total of 4 barges pass us
during the race last year. So, about one every 80 miles. Once a day
if you're a hundred hour finisher. Pretty rare, really.
In the next dispatch I'll start walking you through a typical day of
the race. We'll cover Kaw Point to Waverly. Might be handy to have
your maps printed by then so you can follow along. Here's the link to
some map options you can print up.
See you then.
Last Edit: 06/18/08 at 13:15:43 by N/A
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Reply #3 -
06/19/08 at 01:02:30
MR340 Dispatch #4
Thanks to all who caught my error in the last dispatch. The sentence
should have read, "a towboat going UPSTREAM will have green buoys on
his left and red on his right" but I said downstream. I'm glad
you guys are paying attention.
Today we are going to work through a simulated first day of the
race... Obviously, everyone paddles a different pace with different
goals. I'm going to look at a more modest 90-100 hour pace. But the
rest of you will get the idea.
Alright, it's 5am. Last night you dutifully attended the safety
briefing, signing in, picking up your t-shirt and paperwork, putting
your nametag on, etc. You managed to get a little bit of sleep after
double checking that everything was ready. You've had some breakfast.
You're excited. You're at Kaw Point as the sun is coming up. Your
boat is sitting there in the morning dew, ready to launch. The race
starts in 3 hours.
You get your boat in the water and paddle up the Kaw a few hundred
yards. Everything feels good. Boat is balanced. You can reach the
stuff you will need. Your ground crew has the VW van all gassed up
and they're loaded with all the maps and scribbled notes you've gone
over with them dozens of times. They know your plan A, B and C for
day 1 and they're ready for any contingency. There's a line at the
ramp now going all the way up to the parking lot. You're glad you got
your boat in early. You find a nice spot to beach it and you get out
to stretch your legs and socialize.
By 730 you're back on the water and there is a crowd with you. Folks
are laughing and talking and jockeying for position. The DJ announces
the time every once in awhile. The local media have helicopters
overhead. The mayor of Kansas City gives a little speech. Suddenly
there's a countdown. A gun goes off. You take the first of 100,000
strokes towards St. Charles.
Veteran Tip #1
When you leave the relatively slack water of the Kaw and enter the
Missouri, there will be sudden push on the left side of your boat from
the current. This is no big deal except that you are among 150 boats
all experiencing this push from left to right. Last year this
resulted in a pretty big clump of boats with paddles bumping. The Kaw
has plenty of room to choose an individual line into the Missouri.
Choose a line that is less congested if possible.
So, you've entered the Missouri and the adrenalin is high. You look
at the shore and you are positively flying. There are paddlers all
around in boats of every description. You are paddling way faster
than you should be, but it's hard not to. It's exciting. But you
knew it would be like this and you force yourself to assume the stroke
rate you've practiced. It's going to be a very long day and to be
where you want to be by sunset is going to take less, not more up
front speed. You've come to know your body very well over the last
few months of training and you know just where to dial in the speed.
A few rabbits pass you by but you know you will be reeling them in as
the day goes on. One after the other they will come back to you,
exhausted and spent. Wondering how you are still keeping that rhythm
and still smiling.
The bridges of Kansas City are before you. One after the other you
scoot beneath them, being sure to stay clear of the bridge pilings and
the fast water crushing around them. It's crowded still, just one
mile into the race, so you are sure to give yourself plenty of space
to maneuver among the many boats.
After the bridges and skyscrapers it starts to look a bit more rural.
Up ahead you see a sand dredge anchored in mid river. It seems to be
a little to the downstream left side. Further left on shore you can
see the sand plant where they offload. Just leaving the shore is the
towboat that services the dredge, pushing an empty barge upstream.
You know that he is headed to the dredge which is currently filling a
barge on one side and awaiting the empty on the other. You determine
that in this configuration, it makes sense to stay far to the right
and out of the way. And that's what the folks ahead of you seem to be
doing. No problem.
You take a sip from your drink tube and head to your first rendezvous
with ground support. You've agreed to first meet at La Benite Park,
just under the hiway 291 bridge. This is 15 miles into the race.
You've told them to be there but that you might not stop. You'll
decide when you get there if you need anything from them.
You're keeping a good pace and arrive at La Benite within 5 minutes of
what you had predicted. You're feeling good but realize you had
forgotten something you will need between here and your next meeting,
so you decide to pull in to the La Benite ramp. There are lots of
other boats stopping here for this or that. It's a crowd. You see a
little piece of beach and head for it. Your ground crew meets you
there and hands you the gear. You exchange a quick sentence. "See
you at Ft. Osage." and head back out.
You're doing well at Ft. Osage and decide not to stop. You just wave
to them and tell them you're going to meet them at Lexington, the
first official checkpoint. You've been doing well and are slightly
ahead of your schedule. It feels good because you are starting to
bank some time. This is the insurance time you had hoped to start
collecting early in the race. You don't want to be in a situation
where you are constantly up against the checkpoint deadlines. If
that's the case, you are just one minor mishap away from failing to
stay in the race. The 15 minutes you've banked so far are like gold
for you. And you intend to hold on to them. And add to them.
At the 40 mile mark you are just 10 miles out of Lexington. You're
feeling good. The crowd has thinned quite a bit and you are traveling
in a clump of 6 boats that seem to be going roughly the same speed.
Watching some of the more experienced paddlers, you notice that they
are drafting off one another's wake, getting a little boost from the
effect. There seems to be a side wake and a stern wave that are both
"rideable" and so you decide to tuck in behind a tandem boat that is
making good time and a good wake. Sure enough, on their stern you
feel like you are in a little slot that is helping to pull you along.
Another paddler then tucks in behind you and does the same.
Lexington comes into view. On the right shore you see a big parking
lot with lots of vehicles. There's a yellow Rivermiles sign stuck in
the mud near the ramp with the skull and cross paddles on it. There
are about 15 boats beached and more about to land while some are
trying to take off. You see your ground crew waving.
You decide that here you are planning to get out and stretch for a few
minutes and grab what you need in case it gets dark between here and
Waverly. You beach the boat and find a volunteer with a clipboard.
There are 4 such clipboards here at Lexington but you only need to
sign one. You quickly find your name in the solo section and sign.
Your ground crew has brought you a cheeseburger from the little
fundraiser grill going near the ramp you've never imagined that one
could taste so good. You reach into the van and find your lights and
rig them on the front and rear of your boat. You've got your nav
lights turned on and you've also decided to carry with you a handheld
spot that your ground crew has had charging in the car all day. You
tuck this under a strap on your foredeck and yell, "See you in
Waverly." and take off.
Looking at the little laminated card you made with the checkpoint
miles and cutoffs, you see that Waverly is 23 miles down from
Lexington with a cutoff time of 11pm. You feel like you are going to
make that with about 2 hours to spare. Probably just as it's dark.
The river is moving well and you are now 45 minutes ahead of your
schedule. Feeling good.
Paddling with another group and talking together makes the 23 miles go
fast. Some in your group are just doing a touch and go at Waverly and
then heading for Miami. Some are going to stop in Waverly and catch a
couple of hours of rest. Still others are hedging their bets and
planning to push on at least to Hills Island which is only about 12
miles after Waverly. You're weighing your options. Plan A with your
ground crew was to spend most of the night at Waverly and start again
just as the sky turns gray. But paddling on with this group is
tempting. One boat, a tandem, has a big spotlight mounted on the bow.
These guys have actually done this very stretch at night before
during training and are paddling at about your pace. It just might be
worth tagging along with them and letting them lead the way. They
want Miami but are planning to at least consider a stop at Hills Island for a
break before pressing on. You decide that it will be worth it to earn those 12 miles to
Hills Island on the cheap, following these guys with the sun going down and cooler
temperatures. You've made your decision. Waverly hoves into view. It's getting dark,
but there's another yellow Rivermiles sign. This one has a swirling red LED light on it.
You see the landing. River right again. There are boats pulled up and lining the ramp
all the way to the parking
lot. You see some tents set up in the grass. You land and sign in
and tell your ground crew of your plans. They are to head to Miami
and try and get some sleep. You aren't sure if you're going straight
through or stopping at Hills Island. You know the tandem plans to
push on so you introduce them to your ground crew and they agree that
when they land in Miami, they will pass the word on about what you decided
to do... just in case you can't get a cell signal at Hills Island.
Veteran Tip #2
Waverly has nice, flushing restrooms at the top of the hill. A busy
set of train tracks bisect the park and you can expect a train every
15-20 minutes. There is camping above the tracks on a tiered grassy
hill, near the restrooms.
Like Lexington, there are plans for local groups to be serving food
and drinks to raise money. The ramp is river right, usually with a
small eddy that makes landing easy... although the ramp is fairly
narrow. If you decide to stay for any extended time, you will want to
carry your boat up the ramp and out of the way.
With everything sorted out, you depart Waverly. There's a nearly full
moon up and it's fairly easy to see. The tandem team only
periodically turns on their big light to pick out shore markers and
buoys. It's a little slower pace for everyone as they get gear
situated and grow accustomed to the dark. You can hear the water
rushing around something to your forward left. You grab your little
spotlight and aim at the noise. Just a buoy. A red one. There off
to the left where it should be. The reflective tape on the top glows
in your light. The others in your little group adjust course when
they see it in your light, bearing slightly right. It's working.
Hills Island lies at the far end of sort of a heart shaped curve.
About halfway there you see a flash of light sweep through the tops of
trees on both sides of the river... then flash back. Was it
lightning? Your weather radio said clear skies tonight. There it
goes again. What is that? Someone in the tandem grunts, "Barge." and
you realize that you are seeing a very powerful spotlight sweeping
the river from the next bend. He's probably still 3 miles away but
You were hoping to get through this day without seeing a barge.
Especially at night. You've never dealt with one before but the guys
in the tandem seem to know what they're doing and you listened at the
safety meeting so you know the drill. The tandem keeps paddling so
you follow as do the few other solos with you. As you approach the
bend you see it. The towboat is lit up like a Christmas tree with
lots of light. Less easy to see are the barges but you do see the nav
lights in the distance on the front of the first ones. You've been
told however that sometimes the forward barge can be hard to judge.
So you ask the paddler around you if they think they are seeing what
you see. There is agreement. It's probably still two miles away.
You guys are traveling in the channel where the barge will need to be
as he creeps upstream. So the tandem starts to head to the off
channel side of the river. The rest of you follow. Once across to
the other side, you see that there is plenty of distance between you
and the channel. The barge will be passing on your left. On your
right are wing dikes which you can hear the water gurgling past. You
shine your spotlight and can see that they are still a safe distance
away, but that you could get in behind one easily with a few dozen
Estimations are made by those in your group about the size of the wake
that may await you behind the barge. Everyone has slowed a bit and is
just paddling enough to steer. The forward barge is even with you
now, far off to the left. The bow wake seems fairly big but nothing
you haven't seen on the lake back home. It approaches. A simple set
of two waves. Steep but only two. Everyone bobs over them. "It's
the stern wakes that can get really hairy" says one of the tandem
guys. As the towboat passes you peer into the gloom. The tandem
flips on the spotlight and you see some very big, confused water
behind the towboat. "That ain't good." says the tandem driver. "Not
in the dark." and he starts aiming the boat behind a wing dike.
You follow. Plenty of time since the decision was made prudently and
early. You pass the tip of the wing dike and then hit the eddy behind
it. Your boat is pulled upstream by the eddy and into the slack water
behind the dike. You hear some big fish jump out of the water and it
startles you. "Asian Carp" says the tandem guy.
Veteran Tip #3
Asian carp are not native to the Missouri River but they have
certainly made it their home. Thought to have escaped from catfish
farms where they were used to keep ponds clean, they have invaded most
all of the inland waterways. They are easily spooked and their
response is to evade predators by leaping out of the water. Some of
these fish can leap a full 7 feet into the air. And they are BIG.
They have been known to land in a canoe. At least one 340 paddler has
reported a direct hit to her head. (Dawn Keller, 2007) Most often,
they are active in slower water behind wing dikes or in the mouth of
tributaries. Like Kaw Point.
From safely behind the wing dike, you watch the water smash around the river
for awhile. The tandem uses this time to their advantage and digs
through some gear and finds some sandwiches. They eat and look at
their map. You decide to use the time to water the bushes on shore.
After about 10 minutes, everyone is ready to head back out. The water
is still bumpy, but not so bad. By your map, Hills Island is just
around the corner.
Sure enough, one more bend in the river and you can see a big beach
with some boats and some lights dancing on shore. You made it to
Hills Island. The tandem asks what you're going to do. You tell them
to tell your ground crew in Miami that you've decided to take a rest
here until the sun comes up. They agree and push on. You and a few
others angle your boats towards shore. You start hitting the sandy
bottom about 30 yards from shore and step out of your boat and drag it
in. There are 9 other boats here and a couple of tents set up. Some
folks are just sleeping in the open on the sand. Others look like
they have gotten up from a short rest and are loading their boats
again. It's nearly 1am. You decide to get a little sleep. Someone
in your group says they are leaving at 5am... just 4 hours away. You
ask them to wake you up then too and you unpack a little fleece
blanket from your forward hatch and roll up in it. You do the math
and you've paddled 84 miles so far. You're 12 miles ahead of where
you had planned to stop. If you get up at 5am you'll be in Miami no
later than 9am. That's 3 hours ahead of the cutoff time. Comforted
by this knowledge, you drift to sleep.
Veteran's Tip #4
Despite the heat of July in Missouri, nighttime can feel chilly to a
weary paddler on a damp sandbar. Some people sleep in their pfd to
stay warm. Others bring a space blanket which is lightweight and easy
to stow. While very noisy, these can keep you surprisingly warm if
used properly. The preferred method is the baked potato, where you
roll yourself up in the foil blanket and let it seal in your body heat.
Tomorrow we will pick up at Hills Island.
Hope you all are well and enjoying your preparations. The river fell
2 feet today in KC. That's good news. We'll keep you posted.
And if you haven't gotten the previous dispatches, they are all archived here:
Be sure to forward these to any team members or ground crews who aren't getting them.
Last Edit: 06/20/08 at 02:15:19 by N/A
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Reply #4 -
06/20/08 at 02:11:58
MR340 Dispatch #5
You awake to the sound of someone's weather radio. The robotic voice is describing a
partly cloudy day, high in the low 90s. 30% chance of late afternoon thunderstorms. A
pretty standard mid-Missouri forecast for July. In the dim gray light you look out at
the waterline and see that a few boats have left and a few more have arrived since you
fell asleep 4 hours ago. The group you paddled in with last night are repacking gear and
getting ready to take off.
There are little wisps of fog on the water. Tiny dancing tornados maybe 2 feet high.
But visibility seems ok. Your little group of four boats start to paddle out of the
slack shallow water and you feel the current of the Missouri grab you again.
Everyone's sort of quiet as the sore muscles start to warm up. Nobody's paddling real
hard yet. Folks are adjusting things on their foredeck, eating a little breakfast, all
Veteran's Tip #5
If you can do it in your boat, do it in your boat. Don't waste time doing things like
eating and drinking on shore. This can be done while getting a free 3mph ride from the
river. Shore time is for sleeping or grabbing what you need. Resting, eating, drinking
is ideally done in the boat. If your arms are sore and tired, why sit on shore and rest?
Just take a break in your boat. Even without paddling you'll go a mile every 20
minutes. The guy who eats his breakfast on shore didn't go anywhere.
After awhile, you start to notice that the fog is getting thicker. Even though the sky
is getting brighter, it seems harder to see the bank the farther downstream you go.
Things are definitely degrading. You've heard that you can paddle right into a fog bank
and get disoriented. You're not sure if it's going to get quite that bad but you decide
to be prepared. You start scanning the shore for possible landings in case things
suddenly go all gray. As you pass each landing, you then select another up ahead and
keep your eyes on it. In this manner, you keep leapfrogging safe harbors. The fog never
gets too bad and after awhile it starts to thin out. The sun comes above the trees and
it burns off pretty quickly.
Veteran's Tip #6
Don't mess with fog. There is no worse feeling than pressing your luck with fog and
reaching a point where you cannot see shore or even tell which way the current is
flowing. When you see those wisps of fog blowing across the water, be prepared for the
possibility. Those wisps are your warning. Move towards the side of the river that
looks the safest for a quick landing in low visibility. If the fog builds, don't
hesitate. Find a place to lay over. Consider this. Many times the fog is only about
3-4 feet high on the river. From your seat, it seems like a giant cloud. But the view
from a towboat or even a speeding fishing boat, is just fine. So while you're invisible
and struggling in the mist, that other boat might just be cruising right along. And he
can't see or hear you.
You land in Miami just at 9am. You're 3 hours ahead of the cutoff. There's a fundraiser
pancake breakfast there and your ground crew has a paper plate loaded up for you complete
with plastic fork. You stretch your legs for a minute and take a bite. There are boats
all over the grass and some tents and people sleeping. You sign the clipboard and see
that the tandem team that led you to Hills Island last night just left about 20 minutes
ago. You decide you'd like to catch up with them if possible. You get back in your
kayak and head out with the paper plate balanced on your foredeck. You forgot the fork
at the ramp but hey, it's Day Two. Nobody cares about dirty fingers or a little sand in
the food anymore. You roll the pancakes up like tortillas and eat them in two big bites.
Consulting your card you see that the next checkpoint is Glasgow and it's a 36 mile
stretch before you see ground support again. But they've freshened your drinking jug and
threw in some snacks. The deadline for Glasgow is 9pm but you think you'll be there
maybe as early as 3pm. Your 3 hour cushion could soon be 6! Your original plan of just
finishing in 100 hours is replaced by the possibility of actually making it to St.
Charles in time for the awards dinner Friday evening. You'd need to post a time of about
82 hours to make that happen... an 18 hour cushion. Possible.
The safety boat you saw docked at Miami now passes you on the far left. You wave, they
wave back. Probably on their way to Glasgow too.
This stretch seems to be taking a toll on you. You've paddled over 100 miles now and
that's far more than you've ever done before. You feel lethargic. The day is heating
up. You're starting to get a little bitter that the weather radio keeps saying partly
cloudy but you can't ever seem to get under a single cloud. There's a paddler way up
ahead but you can't gain any ground on him or her. And one paddler passed you about a
mile back. He shouted something at you and smiled but you couldn't really make it out.
You just waved and went back to paddling. Slowly.
Checking your watch you see that you aren't going to make it to Glasgow quite as soon as
you'd hoped. Maybe an hour later. It's hot. You want out of the boat. Finally, you
round a bend and there on the left shore is an idyllic little town built right into the
side of the hill. You pick up the pace.
The landing at Glasgow is river left with another little eddy for easy landing. It's a
big, wide ramp and there are canoes and kayaks lining the mud and rocks on both sides. A
nice volunteer grabs the handle on the nose of your boat and pulls you up the ramp so you
can get out. You don't trust your legs at first but you're doing ok.
The next stretch of river is 56 miles to Cooper's Landing. The thought of it is mind
boggling to you. That last leg was a killer for some reason. You wonder if you're
really cut out for finishing this race. Your ground crew senses you are a bit beat and
they get you into the shade. You sit in the chair and drink and watch the activity.
People you paddled with last night and this morning stop by and chat. You talk about the
barge and the fog and the pancakes. You start to feel energized again. One guy points
to a little cement block building on the other side of the park. "Showers over there.
Feels pretty good."
One cool shower later you feel brand new. You've revived. You don't know how long it
might last but you feel like you'd probably better take advantage of it. The next
stretch is the Lisbon Bottoms which is a big S curve with chutes and islands all over.
There's a group that plans to go soon and you intend to go with them. It's 430pm now and
they are leaving by 5. You use the time to powwow with your ground crew and ready your
boat. Since there is a possibility of having evening fall before you see them again, you
trade out gear you will need for the night. You grab your lights and blanket.
Reluctantly, you also grab the lightweight tent and stow it in your rear hatch. There is
a chance of thunderstorms so you'd better just bring it to be safe. Someone mentions
that there's only 199 miles to go. Is that true? You do the math and it works. The
Missouri River 340 has become the Missouri River 199. Your optimism builds again.
Veteran's Tip #7
Nobody quits after Glasgow.
For some reason, Glasgow is sort of a tipping point for this race. The stretch from
Miami to Glasgow is tough on people. And it can seem like it takes forever to get there.
And once there, many teams will drop out, feeling like they've had enough. And the
truth is, they have. Their gear has failed, their bodies are failing, and there doesn't
seem to be much reason to go on. But interestingly, almost without exception, every boat
that manages to leave Glasgow, manages to finish. So, do what you gotta do at Glasgow.
Get some shade, take a shower, think about the reasons you wanted to do this race in the
first place. If you've banked some hours, spend a few here and revive. See if the spark
Tomorrow we'll pick up in the Lisbon Bottoms.
For a good picture of what the race is like, you might consider getting the DVD
documentary of last year's race by Jodi Pfefferkorn. You can order them from Jodi
directly from our homepage at
; There's a link on the lower left.
Should get to your bungalow in 3-4 days. They are also available for sale at Cooper's
Landing, KC Paddler, both Overland Park Borders stores and the Olathe Borders.
The river fell 2 feet again in the last 24 hours at the KC gage. We are still about 10
feet above normal for this time of year, but headed in the right direction.
Some of you have asked about purchasing extra t-shirts. We are working on making this
available. Might have it up by tomorrow. The shirts would be ordered from the website
and picked up at the safety meeting. Some have asked about hats. We'll see what we can
It's not to late to pick up gear at either of the two KC Paddler stores. Visit them on
the web at
; We are very grateful to KC Paddler for underwriting the
race again this year.
And special thanks to Ozark Outdoors and Cyclery for sponsoring Men's Tandem
And Olathe Ford for sponsoring the Team Division.
We're still looking for sponsorship of the remaining 4 divisions. If you know of a
business that might be interested, let us know!
If you've missed any dispatches you can get all caught up here:
Be sure to forward this to any ground crews or tandem partners that aren't on the email
list... or that have sbcglobal email accounts which I can't seem to send to for some
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Reply #5 -
06/21/08 at 00:20:52
MR340 Dispatch #6
Lisbon Bottoms Edition
There are lots of stories of the harrowing Lisbon Bottoms. So, I thought I'd devote this dispatch to some Lisbon Bottoms Myth Busting. Knowledge is power.
The Lisbon Bottoms is an attempt to restore this section of river to a bit more natural state. After the big floods of the 90s, lots of bottomland farms were literally wiped away. What had once been fertile farmland was now covered in sand several feet deep. The land was purchased and then allowed to go wild. The chutes that the flooding river had carved were encouraged by some engineering of the channel. This new area allows for wildlife to thrive and even helps mitigate flooding by allowing the water more room to spread out and slow down. It's really a pretty neat compromise between nature and navigation. There is still a navigable channel, well marked and deep... but there are also more natural side chutes and islands, which wild animals, including paddlers, enjoy.
Truth is, we've had lots of people get confused in the Lisbon Bottoms. Stories of folks taking a wrong turn, getting confused, etc. Every one of those stories happened in the dark. So, let's look at the Lisbon Bottoms in the light of day. I hope this works. Click this link: A new window will open. You'll need to switch back and forth between the new window and this forum.
Ok. You should see an aerial view of the Lisbon Bottoms. Every screen will display it a little differently, but you should be able to see the big S shape. That's the old LB.
Do me a favor if you can... use the zoom feature in the upper left of the picture to zoom tighter on the topmost part of the S. Or you can just double click on that spot a few times. There you will see a barge just entering the Lisbon Bottoms. Go ahead. Play around a little.
Zoom in as tight as you want. This is a good chance to see the size of a barge relative to the river. Now, play a little game with me. This barge is headed downstream. You can look behind him and see that he has been running on the downstream left bank since that has been the deep water channel. How do I know that? Well, almost without exception, the channel is on the outside of a bend. Just like on little rivers.
Now, play this game. What do you think the captain's sailing line will be as he approaches this bend? And let's say you were ahead of him and had to decide the best place to be in order to be out of his way? Where would you go? Think about it. I'll wait here.
Hopefully, you studied this and can see that the towboat has been hugging the downstream left shore hard and is just beginning to point his barges away from the left shore and is lining up with the shore marker (you can't see it from above) which is on the RIGHT shore. He will aim straight for that marker... which would be what color? Yep. Green. And if you could look directly behind the barge you would see a red marker on the downstream left shore behind him. And he's describing a nearly straight line from the red marker to the green.
So, if you know where he's headed, where do you go? Away from that line. And the sooner you make it obvious to him that you know where to go, the better.
You can see all the wing dikes and islands that you have at your disposal. Wanna know what I'd do? I'd paddle as close to those islands up ahead as I could. The water is shallow there so I KNOW he ain't coming that way. AND if his wake is nuts, all I have to do is ride one onto the beach and take a nice break while things calm down. It's actually a really sweet place to have a barge overtake you.
Some of you have probably already zoomed in tight on the barge to see what kind of wake is behind him. Yeah, not much there. A downstream, lightly loaded tow will make almost no wake. So, he'd pass you by and you'd probably be fine to keep paddling.
And this brings up a question. How will you know if a barge is sneaking up behind you? Well, hopefully you'd be paying attention. You should frequently check behind you for this reason. Bryan Hopkins used to keep a pair of mirrored sunglasses on his kayak foredeck which acted as sort of rearview mirror. Others have actually used those bike mirrors that clip to a hat. Still others just check behind them from time to time. I also don't recommend zoning out to your mp3 player too loudly or too much.
This dispatch is supposed to be about the Lisbon Bottoms... but I couldn't resist the barge info since it's right there.
Back to the Bottoms. I'll take it from the top. Right where the barge is passing is the entrance to one of the chutes you've been hearing people talk about on this forum. Zoom in and take a look. Knowing that the towboat is HUGE you can see that those cuts leading to the chute are also huge. And lots of water is being sucked into this chute. And a kayak, cruising along in the dark, staying on the channel side, would be going right by there. You'd hear this incredibly loud rush of water. In your little spotlight, you might even see it... this huge gap in the rocks that looks like the river wants to go through. It's also day two and your not as sharp as you might be. You wouldn't be the first one to get fooled and go in there.
Well, then you're sort of commited. And it ain't over. There's another, more intense cut and drop after that. And then a long chute with lots of braids and islands. You really don't want to be there.
Strategy? If you're doing the Lisbon Bottoms in the dark, stay in the middle of the river. In fact, that's good advice for ANY section of the river at night. You won't see a wing dike in the middle of the river. You won't get fooled by a chute in the middle of the river.
The other thing that confuses folks about the Lisbon Bottoms at night is that there are some very extreme rock dikes that have been engineered into the river here. By this point, you've gotten used to the wing dikes and their patterns. But here, the rules seem to have changed a little and some of the wing dikes are VERY long and very tall relative to ones you've seen before. Let's look at what I'm talking about. If you scroll to the exit of the chute you'll see the next bend and a big sandbar on downstream right. Look at those wing dikes upstream of the sandbar. The first one sort of points downstream... then leads to one that is nearly perpendicular to shore and then a third one just like that. (it's actually become part of the sandbar... it actually created the sandbar) Anyway, this looks just plain weird at night. You're going along the right bank and you see the first wing dike... the one pointing downstream. You're used to seeing something like that and just following it along... because it's the channel. But then up ahead of you, you see that first perpendicular one and it just looks like a wall that shouldn't be there. And it's dark and you start doubting yourself. Am I in the right place? Did I accidentally take some chute and not realize it? We had a paddler do this last year. She was out in the Lisbon Bottoms alone and got turned around at this spot. She ended up taking a right at this wing dike and going behind that sandbar. The water was very shallow and she beached. It was too dark to see where she was and she had no idea which way she should go. Rather than risk going some direction that might make things worse, she was forced to sit tight in that little shallow spot all night until the sun came up and she could see the way out.
So, I think it's valuable for you to study this spot in these photos and not be taken by surprise. Those 3 funky wing dikes mark the end of the Lisbon Bottoms. When you see them, just stay left and get passed them. It will be over before you know it and the river will look normal again.
Of course, we're at flood stage now... so this may look a lot different than I remember it when the water goes down again. Or, the water could stay high and those wings could be underwater. If that's the case, there will be some turbulence off the tip of those dikes and some big eddys behind them. Stay in the middle at night. You're safest there.
And remember, you don't have to paddle at night. If it's not for you, don't do it. Just work hard enough during the day so that you don't have to. If your strategy is such, you will spend night one in Waverly, night two either in Glasgow or better yet, on an island in the Lisbon Bottoms. 3rd night in Jeff City or close... and the 4th night in Washington This would require being on the water until nearly dark each day and the discipline to be back on the water just before the sun comes up.
If you do paddle at night, it's always good to travel with a group. It's really interesting how two or three people can look at the same thing in the dark and see it differently. Sometimes, if you see something the wrong way initially, it's hard for your brain to "unsee" it. But a buddy might be able to set you straight.
So there's your Lisbon Bottoms lesson. And your Google Maps lesson. It is definitely worth your time, if you haven't done it yet, to play with Google Maps and look at the entire course from above. You can see all the stuff we've talked about so far. Hills Island, Kaw Point, sand dredges, barges, wing dikes, etc.
Rest easy. The Lisbon Bottoms will be ok
And here's your homework for today. Follow the river down from Lisbon on Google and use your paper maps too. There are a couple of 3 places you could meet your ground crew on this stretch. Remember, you aren't required to check in anywhere with race officials until Cooper's Landing, 56 miles from Glasgow. That's the longest stretch of this entire race. So, plan to stop and meet them somewhere in between. Franklin Island? Taylor's Landing? Eagle Bluffs? Oh, and try to spot Cooper's Landing on Google Maps if you can. Hint: There's a houseboat tied up... and a gas dock. And a boat ramp. And it's river left.
We'll do it again tomorrow.
Last Edit: 06/21/08 at 01:54:56 by N/A
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Reply #6 -
06/22/08 at 10:18:08
MR340 Dispatch #7
So, you've made it through the Lisbon Bottoms and you're on your way to Cooper's Landing. Quite a long 56 miles from Glasgow where you last met your ground crew so you've made arrangements to see them at Franklin Island Access, just down and across from Boonville.
Franklin Island is a nice little spot with shady cottonwoods but not much else. No bathrooms...unless you count shady cottonwoods... but a good spot to meet your crew and grab what you need for the final 28 miles to Cooper's Landing.
There are other spots as well. Consult your maps and have a plan for which might work best for your team.
By this point in the race you've gotten pretty good at your system. You know just where to put everything on your efficient little boat. You've learned your body well and you know to read the signs of fatigue, hunger, etc. You know that even if you're NOT hungry you need to eat. You are using a tremendous amount of fuel (calories) and you have to stay ahead of the curve keeping that fire stoked. If you are feeling weary, lethargic or weak. It probably means that you have failed your body with food, electrolytes or hydration.
Post Glasgow... post Lisbon Bottoms, the river takes on a little different personality. More big bluffs and hills. Rocheport, a town you'll pass after Boonville, has some amazing bluffs running right along the Katy(Bike)Trail and the river. Taylor's Landing is across from Rocheport just before the I-70 bridge. Here's another place ground crew could meet you.
There is usually a sand dredge operating around Rocheport. But this will be old news to you by now.
One note on sand dredges at night. They are rarely active at night but they often remain anchored in mid stream. They will have white lights on them. At night, seeing this big hulking thing in the river with lights, you may have trouble discerning whether it's a moving barge or a parked dredge. Either way, choose a safe line around it.
Another confusing thing that can happen at night is that shore lights can look like a barge... or barge lights can look like shore lights. I never take any light for granted. Even if I've been staring at it for a half hour as I float down, even if I'm 99% sure it's just a couple of cabins in the treeline, I check back from time to time just make sure my brain still agrees with my eyes.
There's a particular power plant around Chamois that fools a lot of people at night. From a distance you'd swear it was a big towboat. We've had folks sit and wait for that towboat to move their way. It never does. But they were smart to wait and see for sure.
Cooper's Landing. How to describe it. It's part marina, part campground, part saloon, part bait shop. There's often live music and Thai food. There are always folks hanging around watching the river. Mike Cooper runs a great place and he is a friend of this race. He is once again allowing free camping to anyone affiliated with the 340. I believe he also has a shower he rents out for a couple of bucks. You'll have to ask him.
After Coopers Landing is the stretch to Jefferson City. About 30 miles or so. There's another sand dredge on that leg. Also, there are lots of barge fleeting operations going on at Jeff City. If you arrive there during the day, you will likely find lots of barges getting pushed here and there and the sand dredge operating. This just means the water can be somewhat wavy. The checkpoint is on the left descending shore just before the bridge. There is a great view of perhaps the most scenic state capitol in the country... and very friendly checkpoint volunteers who have come back again this year. We had lots of paddlers spend part of a night at the Noren Access in Jeff City. Seems like a popular place to catch some sleep with just 110 miles to go.
Another 10 miles down and you reach the mouth of the Osage River. Last year, and likely this year as well, we received the "Osage Boost" as this big tributary which drains Truman Lake and the Lake of the Ozarks should be fairly high again. At most water levels there is a sandbar across the river from the Osage mouth that makes a good spot to camp or take a break. Even at last year's high Osage levels, this sandbar was just above water. You can find it on Google Maps.
Tonight I'll walk you through the final 100 miles. You are hopefully looking at your maps and mileage and coming up with a plan, or series of plans, for how you will be approaching this challenge. As questions come up let me know. Or post on the forum at
; Lots of friendly people there willing to help.
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Reply #7 -
06/23/08 at 01:19:37
MR340 Dispatch #8
I believe I last left you at the mouth of the Osage River, about 14 miles downstream of
the Jeff City/Noren checkpoint. The Osage comes in at rivermile 130... just over your
right shoulder as you're heading downstream. Which means you have about 101 miles to
go... something like that.
And you only have 2 more checkpoints to clear. Hermann at mile 98 and Washington at mile
68. Then St. Charles, mile 29 or so.
All the professional accountants out there among you have figured out that the MR340 is
really the MR339. But I wouldn't worry. You'll make up that extra mile paddling figure
8s at Kaw Point waiting for the race to start.
A couple of good spots to stop between the Jeff City checkpoint and Hermann include the
Mokane ramp (mile 125) and the town of Chamois (mile 118). You'll likely want to select
one or the other as a meeting point. If you're looking at your maps you'll see that
Mokane is going to be much easier on your ground crew, simply because it's a straight
shot on 94 from the Noren (Jeff City) ramp. Chamois would be a tricky drive. Walt
Birmingham could do it, but he lives in Chamois. I can't tell you... I like Chamois, but
I've only ever been there by boat.
So Jeff City to Hermann is a lengthy 46 miles. Mokane sorta breaks that up. Also on
your map is the town of Portland at about mile 114. Lots of racers stop here... no boat
ramp but your ground crew could flag you down. There's a place to eat just over the
riverbank. You could skip Mokane in lieu of Portland.
By the way, this is just an absolutely beautiful stretch of river. Where the Gasconade
River comes into the Missouri is one of my most favorite spots. Huge bluffs and hills.
But I digress.
Hermann Checkpoint is a good one because the town of Hermann embraces the river. The
town is built right on the river so there is stuff for your ground crew to do and see
while they wait for you. And the Marner family heads up this checkpoint for us and they
do an outstanding job. They always have the scoop on where everyone is and what's the
latest race news. Be sure to say hi to Mary or Dave when you sign through.
From Hermann it's a mere 30 miles to Washington. Almost exactly halfway between is New
Haven if you're looking for a meeting place to break this stretch up. Nice town, well
kept. Good bathrooms but they are a bit of a hike up a hill. And also, be aware that
the lovely grass that looks like a park across from the boat ramp is actually some guy's
yard. And he does not allow camping.
Let's talk about Washington. Another great town built right on the banks. Big town,
too. It's got everything a weary traveler could need. And the boat ramp is HUGE. But
it's a bit of a challenge landing here because there is no eddy. The current sweeps
right past the ramp full speed. Best way is to take a line straight at the ramp then
angle upstream right before you get there. You'll do fine. I wouldn't even mention it
except that if you're coming in there at night it's hard to see what the current is
doing, but now you know. Speaking of night, both Hermann and Washington, being situated
right on the river, have lots of lights all over the place. You'd think this would make
finding the ramp easy but it sorta does the opposite. See, we have these swirling LED
road flares that are red and you can see them great at say, Miami which is pitch black.
But they get overwhelmed a bit at Washington because there are just so many lights on
shore. But the ramp is enormous and is surrounded by a giant parking lot all lit up.
You know what, this would be a good one to look at via Google Maps.
(You might have to engineer that link to fit in your browser the right way)
Look at the ramp in Washington. You'll see that there's a long rock structure built
along the Washington waterfront. You can come at the ramp from either side of this. The
water is fast on both. And note that you do not have to stop at the ramp itself but can
land upstream of it where there is plenty of room as well.
Washington has excellent bathroom facilities and is allowing camping on the lawn up by
the picnic area. They ask that you don't use tent stakes as there is a sprinkler system
Also, Washington has a very active recreational motorboating population and you will see
lots of boats in and around the checkpoint. The Washington Boat Club is helping to run
the checkpoint and they are making sure launching boaters know that you are out there.
Try to be as proactively visible as possible. At night especially, make sure all your
lights are working and that you have a signal light (flashlight or spotlight) handy.
This is also where that reflective tape can pay off. You can get it lots of places.
It's often sold for the purpose of putting on the back of road trailers so think places
like Tractor Supply, etc. It's usually red and silver in color. Have some on your boat
and on your paddle blades. It's hard to miss at night. Your boat might already have
some reflective tape on it. Try this. Go out in your dark garage and shine a flashlight
on your boat. Anything? If not, get some. Try the same with your life vest. Some are
already reflective. If not, fix it.
The final 40 miles will hopefully be a time for you to reflect on your fine
accomplishment. What you do NOT want it to be is a heartbreaking realization that you
just aren't going to make the 100 hour cutoff. By this point you know exactly what kind
of speed you can make. And hopefully you've banked some hours to insure against wind,
storms, fog, etc. Leave Washington with plenty of time to make it.
You can break that 40 miles up at either Weldon Springs boat ramp or the Klondike ramp.
On the Lewis and Clark maps, Klondike shows up as a town but not a ramp. There is a ramp
The finish line at St. Charles is quick after the huge Ameristar Casino. Tough to miss
that. Especially at night. The Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center is the
official finish line and it will be lit up as well. I've attached a picture of the place.
If you can make it there Friday evening you can attend the awards dinner. The food will
start at 530pm and the awards no later than 7pm. All racers eat for free. Everyone else
pays the Lewis and Clark museum as this is their fundraiser.
If you arrive anytime during the festivities we'll stop everything and give you a
standing ovation and announce your arrival as you land. Not bad.
If you arrive after it's over you will be recognized the following day (Saturday) at noon
when the race officially ends.
In exactly 3 hours at 415am I head to Kaw Point to begin a 5 day reconnoiter of the race
course. So, getting in touch with me might be dicey for a few days. I'll have my cell
phone with me and this laptop and hope to get some internet access along the way. And
I'll try to keep you up to date with continued dispatches and live reports from the
field. For now, I'm going to pack some clothes and make sure the boat's loaded and
ready. And sleep. A little.
Keep the questions coming.
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Reply #8 -
06/28/08 at 22:19:30
MR340 Dispatch #9
Just back from the river recon tour. A great trip with lots to report. Here are some observations...
Looks good. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS are staying on top of things down there. They were mowing the grass and knocking down the weeds just as we left. Everything is in good repair. The Kaw was up and moving right along. If it's still moving that fast come race day, we'll probably start you guys in flights so you don't have to do so much hovering around waiting for everyone to begin. This is a decision that would be made a couple days before the safety meeting.
Lots of bridges and bridge pilings in KC. And with the river moving this fast, each piling sort of simulates a motor boat moving through the water. So, there are some smallish motorboat type waves between some of the bridges. Really not a big deal but thought I'd mention it.
This is first stop for some of you, about 15 miles into the race. The ramp looked good but could be muddy after the river falls. Rest of the park looked good.
This town is ready for the race. We met with the mayor and he's excited and is already working on cleaning up the ramp area. In fact, the day we came he had the fire truck there spraying off the ramp.
Camping area was mowed. Ramp was muddy.
Spent a few hours here. Park is mowed. Miami bathroom is not the best, but it's still there. Ramp was usable.
Miami to Glasgow:
Did this stretch in the dark. Water was smooth and readable. A billion stars. Calm winds. Glasgow ramp was perfect. Bathrooms and showers are all working. Race volunteers are ready. Big storm in the morning. No wind but heavy rains and non-stop lightning. Stood under the picnic shelter and shivered. Hot shower cured me.
Water was high. The chute on the left side that likes to invite people in was wide open but we just stayed in the middle and watched from there. Nothing of note.
Stopped here because we'd spun out a prop and the spare was ragged. Called Drew Lemberger and he gave us a ride into Columbia for a couple of replacements. Back on the water in no time. Thanks, Drew!!!
Mike's place looked great. This year was not as bad as last with high water. He's ready for the race to come through. He's going to have live music there Thursday night, I believe. Probably have Thai food a couple of nights. I had a meeting at Cooper's Landing with some River Relief folks. They are grateful for your generosity. We talked about safety boats and other things they will be helping us with. I'll keep you posted on the results.
Cooper's to Jeff City:
Ran this stretch at dusk. The sand dredge above Jeff City was anchored midstream as usual but was easy to see. Noren ramp was just about all under water. Saw some folks fishing there.
Jeff City to mouth of the Osage:
Did this 14 miles in full dark with some wind. But even at that, the river was really kind. Fairly smooth water. Good glow from Jeff City over my shoulder. By myself so I sang some Jimmy Buffett to stay awake. Prisoners at Algoa may have heard me but they probably deserver it.
Stayed overnight at Soda Popp's. Then all day. Then another night. Tough to leave when he's cooking catfish he caught in his front yard. The Osage was high and they were releasing from the Lake of the Ozarks 80 miles upstream. The Osage will likely be full for a long, long time.
This checkpoint, managed by Dave and Mary Marner, will be running like a swiss watch. The park and restrooms were immaculate. Ramp was just about underwater, but clean.
Entire ramp underwater. Lower parking lot looked like a beach with waves crashing on it from passing boats. Didn't stop here.
Ramp looked good. This is a stop some of you have made in the past to meet ground crew. Klondike looked a little worse for wear. Logs and whatnot piled up.
The folks at the Lewis and Clark Nature Center and Boathouse are the BEST. They are excited to host the finish line and the awards dinner. The bathroom and shower in the boathouse will be available for your use. The city of St. Charles has a camping area set aside that is a short walk on a trail from the boat house. You will land right at the beach next to the museum. They'll even leave all the lights on at night so you cannot miss it.
It was a good trip. It helped to see the whole river and what the higher water will mean to the race. Mostly, it will just mean mud and bugs. The face of the river was really well-behaved. Some landings are actually easier to negotiate in this higher water. The only one that seemed like more of a challenge than usual was Cooper's Landing but even that was just an eddy with a few riffles. The tandem team of Scott Swafford and Rick Wise did a practice run the evening I was there and said the trip down to Cooper's was pleasant and uneventful, even with some strong winds.
So, I'm feeling good about things. There was a big storm in the Grand River watershed that gave back 4-5 feet of water that we had gotten rid of... but we'll get rid of it again. Wing dikes are all under water which is not a bad thing, really. Though I suspect that they will be peeking up again in two weeks. Saw very few buoys and many of the ones I did see were broken free and just floating down the river.
I appreciate the reports from racers training on the river. And there's a big training day tomorrow (Sunday) from Atchison to Parkville. (45 miles or so) This isn't part of the MR340 course but it will still be a valuable experience for those trying to get their boat dialed in. I'll be out there running sweep and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting some new ones.
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Reply #9 -
06/30/08 at 10:56:06
MR340 Dispatch #10
Great to meet so many of you Sunday at the time trial/training run put on by KCPaddler and Missouri River Paddling Company. I can see that preparations for the race are ongoing and that the next 2 weeks will be as busy for you as they will be for us.
The conditions Sunday were a bit utopian. High, fast water. Low temperatures. Big tailwind. But a nice introduction to the Missouri for some of the first-timers.
Getting some questions about lights. People seem to be figuring out the nav light thing. Red/Green on the bow and a white light on the stern. The questions now are about lights for seeing...not being seen.
Everyone has their own answer to this problem. And there are two basic schools of thought. There's the steady on full time camp and the ON/OFF snapshot camp.
Steady on lighting is great if you can make it work with battery life, etc. There are bike light systems that they use down in the Texas Water Safari with great success. Of course, it's a narrower river down there... but reports are that it works ok up here. These can be expensive rigs but reliable in wet and rough conditions.
A cheaper method is the on/off approach. This involves the use of a strong, handheld spotlight that you just grab every couple hundred yards and take a snapshot of the river. This is a great solution for a bowman in a tandem boat. Just keep the light between your feet and pick it up every few hundred strokes. Shoot the river and see the next daymark, all the buoys, etc. Get a bearing you like on the treeline ahead, and paddle towards it. When you get to that mark, do it again. Takes a little faith to trust what you saw in that snapshot. But a little fear at night is good. Keeps you alert.
These spotlights are fairly inexpensive. You can find them at Wal-Mart or Bass Pro for 10-15.00. They are rechargeable from a 12 volt outlet. I would recommend having at least 2. You can always have one charging up in your ground crew vehicle. Swap them out whenever possible.
Full darkness will only last about 8 hours this time of year. 9pm to 5am, roughly. Do not attempt to paddle at night alone if you've never done it before. Stick with a group if possible.
The river is falling again and that's a good thing. I know the speed demons out there would love to see us at flood stage but have no fear. The river WILL be higher than last year and records will fall. But one problem of a practical nature is that the flow of water at Kaw Point is pretty fast right now. In previous years, Kaw Point was like a big pond we could all paddle around in and wait for the race to start. Not now. You'd wear yourself trying to keep from being swept into the Missouri. If that's the case come race day, I may have you all start in flights. Might looks something like this:
This will be a decision likely made the day of the safety meeting. This is nothing you need to prepare for or worry about. Just a heads up.
Regardless of if it's a mass start or a flighted start, we need to keep things moving at the boat ramp. There is lots of room up above the ramp to stage your boat. Get everything set up just the way you want it... the way you've practiced it... before getting in the launch line. Have help with you if you need it.
And here's an idea for the Kaw Pont savvy. Way out at the actual "point" is a semi-practical place to launch a boat. There is a walking trail that goes through the woods and deposits you right at the little peninsula dividing the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. It slopes down into the water. Scout it out first, but we could definitely have some boats thrown in there. Canoes especially.
There are many of you planning training runs and shakedown cruises over the next two weeks. Please post your plans on the forum as you may be able to find others willing to go and work shuttles with you. Also, after you're done, post a report of what you saw and what you learned. People from out of town who don't get a chance to get out on the river will get a real benefit from your experiences.
Two weeks from today is the safety meeting. I will remind you again that this is mandatory. This is your first real checkpoint. Check in will be from 4-7pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kansas City, Kansas. The safety meeting will start promptly at 7pm. Should be completely done by 8pm. Any activity after that is informal and will likely be at Kaw Point. You can have your boat staged and sitting there all night. We'll keep an eye on it. Don't leave high dollar electronics on board but certainly most of your boat gear, water jugs, food, etc. will be ok. Or, just get there early and set everything up.
Please keep the questions coming. The remaining dispatches will be inspired purely by the questions I get via phone and email. If you're wondering about it, so are 20 other people. So think hard and ask me. It's not like you're getting anything done at work these next two weeks. You know you're just daydreaming and looking at maps and reading the forum and making lists of gear. When a question pops up, give me a call, 913-244-4666 or send me an email.
We're all in this together.
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Reply #10 -
06/30/08 at 11:39:18
2X MR340 Veteran
Are all the check points well lit at night? We will have no problem finding them in the daylight, but just curious at night?
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Reply #11 -
06/30/08 at 12:04:54
We do our best to light them with these LED road flares. It will be good for you to have the mile markers of the checkpoints noted and which side of the river they are on.
Almost every checkpoint is located in sight of a bridge.
Lexington: About a half mile above a bridge. River right (daylight only checkpoint)
Waverly: Quarter mile before a bridge. River right
Miami: quarter mile before bridge. River right
Glasgow: quarter mile AFTER bridge. River left
Cooper's Landing: No bridge
Noren/Jeff City: Just BEFORE the bridge. River left
Hermann: Just after the bridge. River Right:
Washington: Quarter mile before the bridge. River right.
Nobody missed a checkpoint last year. I'd say the most difficult to land at night would be Washington and Hermann only because there are so many lights that it's hard to tell what's what. You know the town is there but the ramp might be hard to pick out. We'll instruct volunteers to keep an eye out for nav lights upstream and to blink flashlights at you. You can return fire to confirm you've seen it.
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Reply #12 -
06/30/08 at 13:17:57
3X MR340 Veteran
There may be a possibility of having some interesting connections as the front wave of slow boats is overtaken by the next two waves of faster boats?
Maybe consider letting the 'Hair-on-fire barn-burners' go first and not be a factor for the rest of us till next year?
Just a thought, Bill E.
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Reply #13 -
06/30/08 at 13:20:51
With an hour between you there will be no issue. Just the fun of seeing some great paddlers cruising by. The pack will be well spread by then.
Much safer potentially, than a mass start.
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Reply #14 -
06/30/08 at 17:22:27
6X MR340 Veteran
2X MR340 Record Holder
Kawnivore Record Holder
3X Gritty Veteran
Gritty Fitty Record Holder
He who hesitates is lunch.
Austin, Texas, Third Coast
There will be plenty of room for the supertankers to steer clear of the fighter planes. I strongly recommend all boats hop on the wakes, if possible. --West
Cognitive Dissonance: when being wrong just isn't an option.
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Reply #15 -
06/30/08 at 18:27:56
3X MR340 Veteran
I definately agree there will be improved safety with delayed starts.
And West, I appreciate the offer of a wake to ride but as I understand the rules we are not to ride the wakes of barges.
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Reply #16 -
06/30/08 at 19:45:25
So, West, does that mean you won't be shaking Carter or David off your wake and simply give 'em a free ride for a while?
Wish you were there last Sunday, West. I sure would like to see just how fast your six-man crew is in that long boat. But, I guess I'll see on the morning of July 15 for a few seconds just before you all blast out of Kaw Point.
Drive safely up here to the real Midwest.
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Reply #17 -
07/01/08 at 02:20:15
MR 340 Dispatch #11
I realized today in speaking to a reporter that I sorta throw words around assuming folks know what I'm talking about. And then the blank stare tells me that I haven't done a very good job of knowing my audience. Term for today was "Wing Dike."
A picture is worth a thousand words so I attached one to the bottom of this post. This is a picture of the Rocheport area. And those are L-dikes. Named after their shape. A true "wing" dike would be just the part sticking out perpendicular to shore...
There are plenty of both out there, but most folks just refer to them all as wing dikes. And for our purposes we'll do the same.
This particular set was built to narrow this section of river. The dikes force the water behind them to slow down and drop sediment. The sediment accretes and forms sandbars or shallow areas behind the dikes. This displaces water and forces more water into the new, modified channel which gets deeper and faster because of these structures. And despite ruining the view of an otherwise lovely stretch of river, the dikes do provide some wildlife habitat for fish who like to hangout in some still water and do their thing.
So, I was driving a boat right by this spot on Tuesday of last week and all those rocks were underwater. Deep underwater. But the river is falling fast in KC and it's hard to guess what we might have by the time you hit the water. I'd say it's very safe to say that at LEAST you will have turbulent water going over the top of barely submerged dikes. Some spots already have this. And it's possible that the dikes will be out of the water altogether.
What should we hope for? Well, let's start by realizing that it doesn't matter what we hope for. We will get what we get. We just need to have a little know-how. And that's what the picture is for. So you can see what is under that water and understand why the water going over the dikes might be acting a little strange.
Please note how much room there is on the river away from the diked area. And those particular dikes are huge, by the way. But the river is much larger. Remember what we said about staying in the middle if you're not sure of where to be? The middle is your friend in all instances except a barge transit.
Mostly, dikes will be on the non-channel side. But sometimes, you will see dikes on both sides. What's up with that? Usually, one side will be wing dikes and the other side L-dikes. The L-dikes are usually the channel side. I mean, look at the picture. you can tell that's gotta be some deep, fast water running along those L-dikes. In fact, if I remember correctly, that IS the channel side over there... and you can see how the curve of dikes points the way right across the river to the opposite shore... just aims the water right over there... and then that side becomes the channel side.
Anyway, thought I'd just show the picture to de-mystify the wing dikes for the uninitiated. To sum up, you don't want to hit a wing dike. Best case, it slows you down and you get a scratch on your boat. Worst case, the water pins you to one and your boat fills up and you scramble to get out. But the good news is, they're easy to miss! It's a big river. And the middle is always wide open.
Everyone gets a t-shirt when you check in at the pre race check in and safety meeting. Some of you have commented that you'd like extras. The thread for that is here:
If you have questions about ordering extras, email karin at rivermiles.
Pre race registration (mandatory) is anytime between 4pm and 7pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kansas City, Kansas. I believe it's at 5th and Minnesota. Someone correct me if that's not right. If it's not there, I bet you could throw a rock at it from 5th and Minnesota. Check in should take about 5 minutes. You will sign your first sign in sheet there. That means you are in the race and assumed to be at Kaw Point in the morning. Failure to call us in the event you pull out is in very poor taste as far as races like this go. Once you sign in you are obligated to inform race staff of any change in plans.
Safety meeting (mandatory) begins at 7pm, same place. It will be a review of all that you've read and heard so far. Plus any late-breaking news about ramp conditions downstream or adjustments to our morning schedule. Questions will be entertained. Answers will be accurate or will satisfy your curiousity. Or both if you're lucky.
After that you are free to wander the hotel. Or come hang out at Kaw Point.
Have you put your boat numbers on yet?
Have you sat in your boat with all your gear loaded just so?
Have you put reflective tape on the boat... and paddle?
Have you tested your lights?
Have you sat with your ground crew and looked at the maps and come up with plans A-Z?
Have you been training?
Some of you have been training really, really hard. These are the folks who know what they are in for and are preparing their bodies for a serious test. Some of you, I suspect, have not been training. And you've got this vision in your head of pleasant days and nights paddling across the state, dipping a blade now and then as the mood strikes you. Let me tell you, that's not how this works. This is a race. You entered an actual race. And we have cutoff times. And the purpose of these cutoff times is so that we can have adequate safety boat coverage. With this looking like a high water year, my fear is that the well prepared athletes will be faster than ever but that the less prepared athletes will still be bumping right against the deadlines. I'm the judge and jury on the disqualifications for checkpoint tardiness. And I'm honestly going to have very little patience for being even a minute late when we have 5mph water. Frankly, the checkpoint cutoffs are too generous even for an average flow. I meant to tighten them up a bit over the winter but never did do it.
I'll also be a bit impatient in the following scenario.
Let's say that boat X averaged 5.1mph in 5mph water on day one. He made the Lexington and Waverly checkpoints. Barely. And is now snoring in his tent at Waverly. He has until noon Wednesday to cover the 32 miles to Miami. We can assume that based on the previous day's performance, it's going to take him at least 6 hours. So, he would need to leave no later than 6am to have a chance. If the snoring continues until 7am, he now has only 5 hours. If he rolls out of the tent at 7:30 and stands and stares at the water... then breaks down his tent, slowly packs his boat, skips some rocks, etc. then it's suddenly 8am. We're down to 4 hours at 8mph. We all know it's not going to happen. Meanwhile, the sweepboat is getting further and further from the back of the pack. Paddler X is trying to decide whether to withdraw or not. Everyone else at Waverly has either left for Miami or has dropped out.
Here's the moral of the story. If the math doesn't work out anymore.... if it's a physically impossible number for you to overcome... then I'm going to have to call you done. I can't stick with you until noon to make it official. You have to maintain a 100 hour pace. If it becomes clear that you can't do it in 100 hours, the sweepboat has to move forward.
I know some of you have real concerns about the checkpoint times. Please trust me on this... last year I did not have to DQ a single boat because of checkpoint times. Not one. Folks at the back were diligent about saving every minute. Did they sleep? Yes. Very efficiently with a disciplined schedule. And when they found themselves banking time, they treated those minutes like gold. And they were loathe to spend them on anything wasteful. There was a sense of urgency in all that they did. Not a moment of daylight was wasted. Their paddle blades were in the water constantly. This is what you signed on for.
Now, I say that I didn't have to DQ anyone. But lots of people DQ'd themselves. They decided they'd had enough and would give it a try next year. They acknowledged that they didn't think they had it in them to make the next checkpoint on time. Maybe it was a sore shoulder or elbow. Maybe their back was tightening up. Maybe their stomach was not handling things very well. This happens to even the fastest racers and they have to pull out. It's nothing to be ashamed of or to risk permanent damage to a joint or muscle for. And you won't be alone. I predict that 1 out of 5 boats will withdraw this year.
But if you are making an earnest effort out there, and your gear holds together, and your body holds up, you'll breeze through the checkpoints and hit the beach at St. Charles knowing you put up the best possible time. And that will be most satisfying.
Prepare well now and work hard then. You'll do great.
Send me your questions or post them here directly.
Or call me.
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Reply #18 -
07/01/08 at 09:07:13
4X MR340 Veteran
4X Gritty Fitty Veteran
Gritty Fitty Record Holder
MR340 Safety Boat Pilot
For scale...That white object down river in the picture is a 20 foot cabin cruizer.....Scott Myers (340 veteran)took that pic...with me lowering him out on a climbing rope from the top of the bluffs.....we watched 3 deer swim accross the river that day...two huge bucks chasing a doe......cool to see......the other day at Lisbon...I paddled up on a doe crossing the river....and I dont expect you to believe me...but I saw a squirl swim accross the river...I paddle up to him...he jumped up on my boat and looked at me like...hey dude...I am trying to get to the other side....jumped off my boat and continued his journey to the opposite bank...like he does this commute every day!!!...anyway I digress....what does this have to do with racing.............? racing is squirly.
................oh man, I kill myself
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river is as river does
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Reply #19 -
07/01/08 at 09:16:42
4X Gritty Fitty Veteran
2X Ground Crew Veteran
Katy 50 Veteran
I never did read what these shirts are made of. Hopefully not some cheap ass material from China. If decent I'll buy another one.
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