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2009 Dispatches (Read 25952 times)
06/25/09 at 22:36:00
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #1
Thursday, June 25, 2009
10:32 pm
39 days, 9 hours, 26 minutes and 35 seconds.

The 4th Annual Missouri River 340 is just 39 days away.  

And with close to 500 paddlers, there are a whole bunch of questions about where we're supposed to be and when we're supposed to be there.  So, let’s start these dispatches early to calm some nerves and help people sleep better at night.  It’s perfectly understandable that you would have a lot of questions about an undertaking like this.  It may be the toughest thing you ever tackle.

You should get a couple of emails a week from me leading up to the big dance August 4th.  They will include all sorts of updates, suggestions, good questions from other paddlers, etc.  It should serve to clarify all the rules and nuances of this unique race you have so brazenly entered.  No doubt in answering one of your questions it may evoke 5 more.  But that's ok.  This is a process and we've got over a month.

Let's start with the hard, fast dates and times.  Like the previous years, we are having a MANDATORY safety meeting and sign in the night before the race begins.  August 3rd (Monday) at the Hilton Garden Inn near Kaw Point.  The hotel is the same one we've always used so if you're a veteran of the race, you've been there.  Many of you are staying there for the days leading up to the race.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is at 5th and Minnesota in Kansas City, Kansas.

Two things happen that evening; the sign in and the safety meeting.

SIGN IN:  4-7pm in the double ballroom.
You can show up anytime between 4-7pm to complete this process.  With 300 boats, it could get very crowded.  We will have extra volunteers to help.  If you're staying in the hotel, try to get this done and out of the way early.  All you need to do is sign in that you are attending the safety meeting, receive your tshirts and information cards and you're free to go.  The safety meeting will begin at 7pm.

SAFETY MEETING:  7-8pm in the double ballroom
This is a meeting which satisfies an important portion of our race safety plan filed with the United States Coast Guard.  Everyone is required to attend.  We treat this as the first checkpoint of the race.  You sign in and are considered live on the course.  The meeting will review procedures and any last minute news we have on landings, barges, weather, etc.  Besides, it's like a big pep rally and you get to meet everyone and the trash talking can start in earnest.

Tuesday morning, 8am, Kaw Point  RACE BEGINS:
After the safety meeting Monday night you are dismissed to resume preparations.  We don't track your status in any way shape or form until you land in Lexington.  Tuesday morning your only job is to get your gear in your boat and your boat in the water.  Kaw Point is a really friendly place for launching all these boats.  There's the obvious boat ramp as well as some gravel put ins along the shore and especially out at the point itself.  It's a process to prep a boat for a 340 mile trip and then launch it.  Be sure that you've practiced loading your boat with the gear you want... so that you know where everything goes.

Every year there are boats that are not yet launched when the gun goes off.  This is not a need for panic.  It’s a long, long race.  Just get in the water as quickly as possible and you’ve got plenty of real estate to make up a 3 or 4 minute delay.

In addition to the safety meeting and the start of the race, we have checkpoint cutoff times.  They are as follows:

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

Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 5pm Tuesday   Leg avg.  5.56mph  Total avg. 5.56  
Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75mph  Total avg. 5.62  
Miami, mile 262, (32 miles)  11am Wed.   Leg avg. 2.29mph  Total avg. 3.89  
Glasgow, mile 226, (36 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15  
Cooper's Landing, mile 170, (56 miles) 2pm Thurs.  2.80mph  Total avg. 3.65  
Noren (Jeff City), mile 144, (26 miles) 7pm Thurs.  5.20mph  Total avg. 3.78  
Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 10am Friday  3.07mph  Total avg. 3.64  
Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 6pm Friday  5.25 mph  Total avg. 3.79  
St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  Midnight   4.50mph  Total avg. 3.85 mph

These may seem daunting but assuming you’ve done some training you should be able to look at that list of checkpoints and feel assured that you will be ahead of those cutoffs.  They are slightly tighter times compared to last year, but very generous in terms of practicality.  Everyone who did not drop out last year finished in under 88 hours.

And if you get eliminated by a cutoff time, it doesn’t mean you have to get off the river.  It only means that you are out of the race and that the sweep safety boat will now be somewhere in front of you rather than somewhere behind you.  

Like last year, we’re having an awards dinner at the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center.  All racers will have a meal ticket and eat for free.  Other wishing to eat will need to pay the fee charged by the staff of the Lewis and Clark Boathouse.  They see this as a big fundraiser for their program.  They had such a great time hosting the finish line and banquet last year.  They really enjoy the spirit of the racers and their quest to paddle the Missouri River.  Needless to say, it fits their mission statement nicely.

The actual awards will start at 7pm.  That’s at the 83 hour mark.  The food will start being served early.  Probably around 5pm… 81 hours.  These are good goals to shoot for.  

We are very lucky to have developed this relationship with the boathouse.  They give us their entire riverfront beach as a place to park boats, have campfires, hang out and talk… AND they let us use their bathroom and shower.  It’s truly the race headquarters.  Be sure to thank them when you see them.

Last thing for this dispatch:  Numbers, lights and PFDs.  These are the big 3 as far as questions that I get in my email.  So here we go:

Boat numbers:
You selected a 4 digit boat number when you entered.  You need to come to race with your boat already numbered on BOTH sides of your bow.  Ideally, you’ll do this with standard boat lettering found at any boating store or walmart.  The best part about these is that they are reflective and easy to see at night.  And while you’re numbering your boat, get some reflective tape and put a good stripe on each side of your boat.  And a couple stripes on your paddle shaft.  This is for your safety.  The biggest dangers out there in my opinion are the motorboats that may have trouble seeing you at night.  Reflective tape is cheap and highly visible.  You can get it at most auto parts stores.  

We require full navigation lighting for night travel.  You’ll need red and green bow lighting and a white stern light.  There are lots of ways to go on this.  Cheapest I’ve seen are little led lights that you can cover in red or green tape.  They burn forever.  Most have 100 hour continuous burns.  Turn them on at Kaw Point and forget them.  I’ve seen some good ones at walmart and such that are waterproof.  With a little Velcro, they’ll stick right to the most curvaceous kayak deck.  You should definitely try them out before the race and make sure they are oriented so that they don’t blind you.  The rear white light especially can be guilty of this.  I find that a little duct tape over the forward half of the stern light helps keep it off your paddles and out of your face.  The purpose of the stern light is to warn a boat approaching from the rear.  There’s no need to light up forward… that’s the purpose of the red and green.

We also would like you to have a chemical light attached to your pfd (or an electric version) This doesn’t have to activated unless you find yourself separated from your boat.

The Coast Guard requires that we wear PFDs for the entire race.  And I completely support this ruling.  There are effective PFDs out there that are breathable and do not constrict movement.  Your training program should definitely include wearing your pfd.  Not only because it’s safe and smart, but because you need to be figuring out how it feels to live in that thing for long miles.  

And a pfd can also be an asset with lots of pockets for stuff you’re going to want.  Chapstick, sunscreen, cell phone, lottery tickets, etc.

That’s a good start for this week.  Schedule those dates and time, number your boat, light it up and find a good pfd.

And spend lots of time paddling.

Questions?  Don’t hesitate to call or write.

« Last Edit: 07/09/09 at 17:36:15 by N/A »  
IP Logged
Reply #1 - 07/05/09 at 21:59:32
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #2

Before we begin in earnest, a few items of business...

First, there is only one week left to take advantage of the Ameristar St. Charles special discount rates for racers at the finish line.  Contact Ameristar St. Charles and tell them you want the 340 discount.  Their rooms are incredible.  Huge.  And a short walk from the finish.  There are also other lodging options in St. Charles.  Many are offering discounts to racers.  You should definitely ask.

Second, this Saturday the 11th, from 9am to noon is the Snap Fitness MR340 Day.  Check for more info here:

And let us know if you have any questions.
Now to this edition of the dispatch...
Some good questions I've gotten in the past few days...

Do we have to go to the safety meeting if we've done the race before?

Yes.  It's mandatory for participation.  We also consider it your first checkpoint of the race.  You will sign in.  You are considered in the race at that moment and you must let us know if you elect not to participate in the morning.

Can we camp at Kaw Point?

Yes.  No fires, but you can camp the night before the race.  It's tough sleeping because of the noisy trains and hiways nearby, but every year we have a few teams give it a go.

Can we leave our boats at Kaw Point the night before?

Yes.  We hire a security guard (off duty park ranger) to watch over the place.  And we've got staff there as well.  It's not 100% lockdown secure but we've never had any problems.  I would recommend that you NOT leave expensive electronics sitting around.  Keep your gadgets locked up somewhere but boats should be fine.  But this is all at your own risk.

What if it storms?

Good question.  If we're in the middle of a lightning storm the morning of the race, the start will be delayed.  But if it's simply raining, we will start on time.  After the start, if you experience severe weather anywhere on the race course, you need to take action for yourself.  It's impossible for us in a race of this magnitude and distance to make you aware of severe weather or to offer you shelter from it.  Part of your preparation for this race should include a weather radio.  Either you or your ground crew should carry it and listen frequently.  If you know there's a chance of rough weather you should carry aboard your boat anything you might need to get through a storm.  We've had storms in the past.  One was particularly brutal.  The paddlers who were hit all did the smart thing and got OFF the water before hell broke loose.  They watched the sky, they listened to the weather and they were prepared for it when it hit.  After it blew over, only about a 30 minute ordeal, they got back out on the water and went to work.

How many safety boats do you have?

We have 12 motorized safety boats for the race.  They are positioned to provide the best coverage we can offer.  12 is the most we've ever had and we're thrilled to have them.  But it's a very big river.  It's incorrect to assume that you will always see a safety boat nearby during the race.  Actually, a few hours after the start when things start getting spread out, you may not see a safety boat for hours at a time.  Mostly, you'll see them parked at checkpoints.  That means everything is going as planned and the boats are waiting on station to assist someone who calls in.  If they're moving it means they are going to help someone or, more likely, they are heading downstream to their next station assignment.  

They are instructed to inspect you a bit as they pass.... to see if you appear to be doing ok.  If you see them staring at you, that's what they're doing... just seeing if you look like you're on top of things.  Give them a wave or a thumbs up and let them know you're good.  If you're NOT doing well and need assistance, put your paddle down and wave both arms so that they know you need them to come over.  

You'll get to know the safety boat crews in your area and you'll see them over and over again as the race unfolds.  These are good, hard working volunteers who are donating their time and resources.  They love what they do... it's an adventure for them, too!  And they are happy to help you any way they can within the rules.  

What's a wing dike and should I be worried?

Wing dikes are man made rock structures that extend from shore out into the river.  Their purpose is to channel the flow of water, artificially making the river deeper and faster.  So, in that regard they are making your life much easier... without them the river would be much wider, shallower and slower.  Almost natural.

They are not anything to worry over, really.  At most summertime water levels they are easily seen and heard.  Obviously, you don't want to run into one, but I've seen it happen and it's not the worst thing.  If you're paddling at night you should have adequate lighting available so that you can see where they are.  There is a pattern to their presence and you'll pick this up very easily on day one.  You'll quickly learn that the middle of the Missouri River... and it's a BIG middle... is almost always a safe bet.  the wing dikes are mostly on the inside of bends, forcing the water to the outside.  There are exceptions to this, but for the most part that's accurate.

Wing dikes are also very handy for the paddler because they offer an easy way out of the current.  Behind (downstream) of a wing dike is a good place to tuck in if you need to take a break.  Often there will be a small sandbar behind a big wingdike.  It's a good spot to take a swim during a hot afternoon.... take shelter from a big barge wake, hide out from a storm, etc.  

Are there really Asian Carp jumping all over the place?

Yes.  Kinda.  The carp are out there for sure.  But they mostly congregate in slack water.  Behind a wing dike is the perfect place to encounter one.  Or 50.  When spooked, their evolved response to the threat is to leap high out of the water.  Every year we have stories of paddlers getting slimed by one of these fish.  It's startling.  These are big fish.  I've seen them jump 7 feet out of the water.  But we've not had injuries.  Just split second hysteria followed by laughter.  They've landed in my canoe before.  It will definitely get your attention.

Do I have to have a ground crew?

It's not required.  But those who go without come back the next year with a crew... if that tells you anything.

How far should I plan to get the first day?

Love that question.  And I'm going to save it for the next dispatch, scheduled for mid-week.  We'll walk through a typical race of about 83 hours... just in time for the awards dinner.  It'll be a virtual reality 340 for you to enjoy from your desk at work.  Because I know in the next 4 weeks, you ain't getting nothing done at work anyway.

Until then, keep the questions coming.


IP Logged
Reply #2 - 07/09/09 at 12:38:57
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #3

Virtual 340 Episode I

You wake up 20 minutes before your alarm and you know there's no point in trying to milk any more sleep out of this night.  After the safety meeting you stayed up too late comparing notes with other paddlers and fidgeting with gear... adrenalin fueled dreams had you tossing and turning.  Silly dreams about being at the starting line without a paddle.  Enough.  You get up and start getting ready.

You get down to Kaw Point early.  Unload your boat in the upper parking lot and your ground crew helps you carry it down the river.  At 530am there is already lots of activity.  News trucks are set up, music is playing, excited paddlers are making last minute adjustments and several have launched and are paddling around the harbor making sure everything is just how they want it to be.  150 minutes until race time.

You decide to launch now and beach your boat somewhere handy so you can get in quickly later.  There are many choices for launching.  The boat ramp, a few gravel beaches, and the point itself.  Since it's early, you opt for the ramp.  There's a short line now but you know it will soon be a long one.  Your solo boat is packed already before you head down.  You are ready to launch.

After launching you give a few instructions to your ground crew.  He has maps and most of the food and gear you may need packed in the car.  You've hashed out a plan for the race with him but you both acknowledge that these plans will require adjustment on the fly.  He'll need to be prepared for options A, B and C at all times.  First checkpoint is Lexington but you've actually got a plan to see him before then if needed.  It's 545am.

You paddle around a bit and trade excited conversation with other paddlers.  A few of them have setup across the Kaw at a little beach where they plan to sit and wait for the gun.  You figure that's a good idea and paddle over, beach your boat and stretch your legs.  Taking your cell phone out of its waterproof case you call your ground crew and tell him your plan.  He reminds you to put some sunscreen on and eat the fruit he stashed in your boat.  He's going back to the hotel for a bit and says to call if you need anything.

It's 630am.  Sitting and talking on the beach your nerves are calmer.  You're talking to some folks who have done the race before and they seem excited but relaxed.  They're comparing notes about where they hope to be by nightfall.  You overhear a group discussing making it to Hills Island by nightfall.  That fits your schedule!  You ask if you can paddle along with them.  They welcome you to join.

7am.  You are glad you launched early because there is a ridiculous line to use the ramp now.  Music is blaring and people are everywhere.  News helicopters fly overhead.  The bay is full of boats of every description.  Most of the big, motorized safety boats depart for their stations.  The DJ announces 1 hour to go.  

At 730 you can't wait anymore.  You get in your boat and so do most of the folks on the beach opposite the ramp.  The starting line is anywhere upstream of the boat ramp so you drift around but from time to time the slow current of the Kaw necessitates repositioning yourself.  You see a few of the guys you met at the beach and hope to paddle with.  They've done the race before and you hope to keep an eye on them.

755am.  With 5 minutes to go you double check everything.  You realize you left something in the car but it's non-essential.  You'll pick it up when you meet your ground crew.  

The DJ announces 2 minutes.  Someone sings the national anthem.  30 seconds.  20.  You hear a countdown from 10 and your little group starts inching up towards the imaginary line.  A gun fires and the crowd screams and applauds.  The water of the Kaw is churned with paddles and wakes.  You hear random laughter and whoops of elation from fellow paddlers.  All the preparation and daydreaming is finally over.  The race has started.

50 yards out you are about to enter the Missouri River.  You see the much faster current of the big river merging with the sluggish Kaw.  Making sure you have lots of room on both sides of you, you enter the Missouri with a good head of steam.  You see some boats bump and collide with each other as the hit the sideways current and it pushes them together.  You've got a good buffer around you and you move in without incident.  There's a surge of speed as the faster Missouri grabs your boat and starts pulling you towards the ocean.  You are utterly surrounded by boats.  Partners are shouting orders at each other, boats are colliding and apologizing.  You're glad you stayed near the back of the mob and had room to maneuver.  There are little pockets of chaos ahead and you avoid them easily.  

You see the first of several bridges that span the river in downtown KC.  You choose your line and see the best path for yourself.  There are crowded pockets of congestion that are sorting themselves out slowly.  You look around for your buddies from the beach and see that they are a bit behind you doing a steady, efficient stroke.  It's then that you realize you are paddling much, much faster than you had during your training.  You're at a pace you can't possibly continue for 72 hours.  Chalking it up to the excitement of the moment, you throttle back and let the guys catch up.

"How's it going?"  Ask the guys in tandem boat.  

"Great!" you shout.  The two solos with them smile and ask if you want to draft with them.  You've heard of this but have never done it.  You see that they are both riding the side wake of the big tandem boat.  And in doing so, they seem to be paddling not quite as hard as you are to keep the same pace.  They tell you that you can ride the side wake of a boat or the stern wake.  And they offer you the stern.  Looking behind the tandem you see a series of waves, decreasing in size behind the boat.  You paddle in to the trough behind just ahead of the biggest wave.   As you slide into that trough you feel the nose of your boat point down slightly and you feel an increase in speed.  The nose of your boat is only 6 inches or so from the tandem's stern but by adjusting your paddling, you're able to keep it there without a problem.  You laugh a little and the stern man of the tandem looks back and smiles.  

"You like that?"

You sure do.

You fly in this formation for awhile, as the crowds thin out.   One by one the bridges go away.  You see a sand dredge up ahead, anchored in mid river.  You've been trained on these in the dispatches and safety meeting.  A sand dredge is generally anchored and stays in one place, harvesting sand from the river bottom for construction.  It is serviced by a towboat that brings it an empty barge to fill and then takes away the full one.  You look around and see the service towboat just leaving the shore with the empty.  You know then that he will be heading for the dredge.  Now that you see him, you know what path he'll take and what side of the dredge you should avoid.  The tandem in your pack sees this too and adjusts course accordingly.  There is a wake made by the towboat and you handle it well, keeping your nose pointed right into it.

After a bit you trade positions with the other solos in your pack so that everyone gets to try drafting sides and stern.  The tandem makes jokes about not getting to draft.  All 3 of you offer them the chance to draft your smaller wakes but they decline.  It's good etiquette to offer, though.

You check a mile marker and realize you've gone 10 miles in a flash.  The time has flown by.  330 miles to go!  Maybe this won't be that hard.  5 more miles and you'll be to La Benite boat ramp.  Your ground crew said he'd be there if you needed anything but just to wave and go by if you were fine.  You're feeling good.  The little pouch of chapstick and ibuprofen you had forgotten seems like it can wait until further down the line.  He had next offered to meet you at the Ft. Osage ramp.  The tandem plans to meet their ground crew there so you opt to do the same.  Passing La Benite, you see lots of boats stopping and lots of cars in the parking lot.  Feels good to pass some more people.

Coming into Ft. Osage, you realize you've gone 30 miles.  You remember when 30 miles used to be a full day's workout for you.  Now, it's just the beginning.  The tandem and one of the solos decide to stop here to resupply.  The other tandem opts to press on but says he'll see you all at Lexington checkpoint.  Approaching the Ft. Osage ramp, you see several other boats meeting crews.  They are efficient and quick.  They hand out empty water containers and receive new ones.  The ground crews grab out trash and hand in some food and supplies.  Then the boats head out again.  You find an open spot to beach and your GC is there.  He hands you a fresh jug and the little bag you forgot.  He asks when you expect to get to Lexington, 20 miles downstream.  Based on your previous pace, you tell him you expect to be there by 3pm.  That's ahead of what you'd hoped but things seem to be going pretty well.  He gives your nose a little shove and you're back out and on your way.  The guys in the tandem haven't left yet and you enjoy paddling with them so you just drift and eat an apple while they finish their stop.  Even just sitting there not paddling, you realize your going 2.5 mph.  You begin to see the wisdom of the mantra, Stay IN Your Boat.  By eating in your boat, rather than on shore, you get free mileage.  And you know it will add up over time.

The next 20 miles are tough but satisfying.  The first checkpoint is approaching and you are looking forward to it.  You see the bridge of Lexington ahead and the checkpoint is about a half mile upstream of it on river right.  Sure enough the parking lot is packed and you see boats all over the beach.  There is frantic activity.  You've been warned that the first few checkpoints would be very crowded.  And that you need to keep the boat ramp as clear as possible so that it is still usable for fishermen.  You see your ground crew waving.  You wonder if he was able to find that candy bar you requested at Ft. Osage.  You smell food cooking at the checkpoint.  

(Lexington has lots of volunteers manning the checkpoint.  It's your responsibility to sign the clipboard.  You must come to a complete stop at the checkpoint in water that is less than knee deep.  If a volunteer is available, they will come to you with the clipboard... as closely as possible.  But it's unrealistic to expect this at Lexington because of the large numbers.  Your ground crew CAN sign you through but you still need to be stopped.  In other words, if your ground signs you through, they should be able to point you out to the volunteer as you are poised at the checkpoint.  No flying checkthroughs.  And remember please that ultimately it is YOUR responsibility that this sign in happens.  You can delegate it to ground crew but if they screw up and forget, it's on you.  And failure to sign through is grounds for disqualification.  Yes, Lexington will be VERY crowded.  It will be that way for all but the first 30 and the last 30.  But it is an ESSENTIAL part of our safety plan and it cannot be stressed enough that you must sign in.)

Your sign in goes smoothly considering the numbers.  Even though you had to beach a bit away and walk, the walk felt good.  You decide to take a brief break here since there are restrooms.  The tandem says they'll see you on down the line and they head off.  By now you've made several friends and everyone is talking about the upcoming evening.  It's 3pm.  You beat the checkpoint deadline by two hours.  Your body is tired and it's tempting to sit in the truck, in the air conditioning and take a long break.  But you know that your goal is 80 hours and you need to keep banking time in case there are storms or other problems to delay you.  Your ground crew checks his weather radio and there is a 30% chance for thunderstorms tonight.  23 miles to Waverly checkpoint.  You get back in your boat.  Stiffly.  This is tough.  But once you start moving the blood starts flowing again and you feel better.

It takes you 4 hours to get to Waverly.  A little slower.  It was a hot afternoon and you're tired.  You were missing that tandem draft.  You are starting to realize the enormity of the task at hand.  But then you start to do the math and realize that you've accomplished a big chunk of this race and it's only 7pm.  11 hours have passed since the gun when off and you've done very well.  You decide to treat yourself to a grilled burger in Waverly and recharge a bit.  

(Waverly will also be a very crowded place.  The volunteers are doing the best they can to get you signed through quickly.  They have a very important job and we count on them to come back year after year.  Please be patient with the process and know that it is an essential part of this race.  And thank them for their time if you get a chance.  If you are planning an extended stop in Waverly, please keep the boat ramp clear.  It is used to launch motorboats by the people in the surrounding areas.  If you are doing more than just signing through, you'll need to carry your boat clear or beach well away from the ramp.)

By 730pm you've signed in, resupplied and had a burger.  Somehow, you've lost a half hour of that banked time.  You know that Hills Island, a large treed sandbar, is just about 12 miles downstream.  You know the tandem is planning to rest there this evening.  You've got a little bit of daylight left.  Telling your ground crew you'll see them in Miami by 8am, you turn on your navigation lights and head out.  

The food and a cold drink have revitalized you and you're ready for some adventure.  The day is starting to cool as the sun goes down.  Your traveling with a fun group and they're discussing whether to stop at Hills Island or press on to Miami.  You figure you'll see how you're feeling in 12 miles and make a decision then.  Just in case, you grabbed what you'd need for sleep from your ground.   He's going to get a room in a nearby town and meet you in Miami by 8am.  But plan B which you discussed is that you might skip Hills Island and check through Miami much earlier.  You'll send a text message if that's what you opt to do.  For that reason, you grabbed enough supplies to get you to Glasgow if needed.

The sun starts to go down and you realize you're ready for your first night on the Missouri River.  This has been a source of anxiety for you, but you feel ready now.  You've seen the river all day and you've trained at night a couple of times.  Plus, you're traveling with small group and you've agreed to stick together until the island.

Nightfall is gradual and your eyes adjust.  Moonrise is at 743pm and Moonset is 552am.  And the moon is full.  Doesn't get any better than that.  There is some cloud cover but it serves to diffuse the light and make it even more user friendly.  You're amazed at what you can see AND what you can hear.  You hear the water rushing by the ends of wing dikes and around the occasional buoy.  Your spotlight is handy but you really don't use it much.  Ahead and behind you see the nav lights of several paddlers.  

It's full dark by 9pm and you're almost to Hills Island according to one of the experienced paddlers in your group.  Rounding one more bend, you see it in the moonlight.  Big, treed island with a large apron of sand.  There are a couple dozen boats there and you see two fires going.  About half your group elects to go on but you decide to stop and see who's there before pressing on to Miami.  You angle towards shore.

About 50 yards from dry sand you bottom out and have to walk your boat the rest of the way in.  You hear shouts of hello and see a couple of tents up and some others just laying out on the sand with no protection.  You reconnect with the tandem team and they say that they're going to sleep 3 hours and leave promptly at midnight for Miami.  They offer to wake you and you agree.  You grab your  small fleece bedroll from your drybag and stretch it out on the beach.  You see a little hint of lightning to the west as you drift to sleep.  

We'll pick it up there next time.  A few points of emphasis:

Kaw Point will be very crowded on Tuesday morning.  Get there early and do what works for you.  You do not have to sign in or anything like that on Tuesday morning.  You did all that Monday night at the mandatory safety meeting.  Your entire job that morning is to launch your boat and be ready to go at 8am.

Moving from the Kaw to the Missouri is a significant transition of water.  Your boat will be pulled downstream as you enter.  The water at the confluence is slightly turbulent.  I suggest we use the entire mouth of the Kaw to enter the Missouri.  We call can't aim for the downstream portion.  Spread out, keep a halo of space around each other for paddles to work, etc.  We've never had any one spill at the start but we've had clumps of boats stuck together and unable to easily maneuver because of proximity.  Take your time and spread out.

Same for the bridges of downtown.  Don't put yourselves or others in a situation where it's difficult to maneuver near the bridges.  Give the pilings a WIDE berth and use the whole river to transit the bridges.

We will pass a sand dredge within the first 7 miles.  They have always agreed to halt operations until we pass.  But be prepared anyway.  An anchored dredge will have anchor cables stretching out from it to the bottom of the river.  Stay well away.

The checkpoints, especially the first few, are going to be crowded.  This process is a part of the race and has been since 2007.  We keep adding volunteers as we add boats but it is likely that you will have minor delays at some of the early checkpoints.  Do your best to be patient and not take it out on the volunteers.  We could not do it without them.  And above all, be sure to sign in!  If you elect to drop out, you must indicate it on the check sheet.  If you drop out somewhere other than the checkpoint, you must alert a race official either by phone (numbers will be provided at the safety meeting) OR by driving to nearest downstream checkpoint and signing out.

We'll leave you for now catching that nap on Hills Island.  Sleep well.  More to follow.

« Last Edit: 07/09/09 at 17:37:03 by N/A »  
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Reply #3 - 07/12/09 at 10:09:36
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #4

Let's rejoin our paddler taking a 3 hour nap on Hills Island.

What seemed like a 7 minute nap was really 3 hours, according to your buddies waking you up.  It's midnight and there is sprinkling rain.  You were sleeping right through it.  Your friends are gathering their gear getting ready to head on to Miami.  You begin rolling up your fleece.  The distant flashes of lightning you saw before bedding down are no more.  You are relieved.  You do not want to be on the water if a storm hits.  The light rain doesn't bother you.  There is almost no wind.

Standing up, you are a little wobbly.  Sore and stiff, you continue getting ready hoping the movement will get the blood flowing again.  The moon still lights the beach despite the clouds.  You can see where some boats have left and more have arrived.  The fires are all out now.  You put your PFD on and start dragging your boat in the shallows.  The river water flowing by your ankles feels very warm now that the night has turned cold.

It's 310 am on an island beach in the middle of the Missouri River and you are about to set off on a 19 mile paddle to a place called Miami.  This is your vacation.

Your rudder grinds and then skips over the sand as you find deep water again.  You and your tandem companions do the math on when you might make Miami.  You guess you might make it by 6am.  Rumor is, there will be pancakes for sale by a local scout troop or something.  That's good, because your ground crew probably won't be there.  You told him 8.  Knowing him, he'll be there no later than 7.  Maybe you'll catch each other.

Rounding the downstream tip of Hills Island you hear a big splash behind you.  Then another and another.  Asian carp must be congregated in the slower water behind the island.  You've heard of these big fish getting spooked and then jumping... sometimes hitting boats and paddlers in their panic.  You feel one thud into the bow of your boat.  That felt big.  You hear the tandem chuckling as they take a bump.  "That'll wake you up."


Somewhere between the island and Miami the sky ahead starts to turn gray.  You can just make out the Miami bridge in the distance.  You start scanning river right for the yellow rivermiles sign and the flashing red LED flare that signals a checkpoint.  Another mile and you see it.  And boats everywhere.  Up in the grass and along the muddy shore.  The ramp is clear for folks to land.  You nose onto the concrete ramp and a cheerful volunteer walks up in a raincoat.  You exit your boat and sign the clipboard. 

"You plan on staying for a bit?"
"Long enough to eat."
"We'll need to move your boat off the ramp."  He offers to grab the front and you grab the back.  You carry it up the ramp a bit and onto some grass near the top. 
"Pancakes are that way."

A short stack later you're anxious to get back out there.  You're getting to recognize some of the boats in your division and see several here... racers who passed you yesterday but are no sleeping in Miami.  You're not in contention to win this thing but why not pass some competition when you've got a chance?  You can feel your body taking those pancakes and turning them into fuel right now.  Like shoveling coal into a furnace.  You take a minute to send a text to your ground crew. 

Leaving Miami.  See you in Glasgow around noon. Wink

The stretch between Miami and Glasgow is 36 miles.  You feel you've got everything you need to make it.  Plenty of water, at least.  Everything else is negotiable.  The rain remains but you're glad for the cloud cover, honestly.  Should be a cooler day today.

Paddling with a new group, you pass the time swapping stories of the previous night.  Someone's weather radio is on and the computerized voice reads the latest; chance of thunderstorms with a high of 85 today.  Rumors of a barge ahead which had tied off for the night and is probably underway now.  This would be your first barge transit.  It used to worry you but now that you're out here you can see where there is plenty of room for your little boat to get out the way.

Sure enough, an hour later you see in distance a big towboat pushing 6 barges.  There's a big white bow wake which means he's pushing a heavy load hard.  Still over a mile away, but you're closing on each other at about 8mph.  He's hugging the left shore and you're hugging the right.  Seems perfect.  But then you realize when he gets to where you are, he'll need to be on your side in order to remain in the navigation channel.  You're in a crossing.  That's ok.  There's plenty of time to get off channel.  You start crossing over to where the wing dikes are on the non-channel side.  Your mates follow.  The barge is now making his turn to go to the side you just left.  He's going slow, but you're glad you made your move early.  You can bet the tow captain is too.  By moving off channel, you've shown him that you know where to be and he doesn't have to worry about you anymore.

Finding a little spit of sand behind a dike, your group beaches and decides to use the time wisely.  You reorganize your boat a bit and sponge out some rainwater.  Others are changing clothes, taking pictures of the barge or popping ibuprofen.  As the big boat passes you see the enormous wake he leaves behind.  Standing waves 4 feet high off his stern and a large bow wake.  The river is very turbulent but in your little harbor, the water is perfectly calm. 

After about 10 minutes, the water seems to have flattened enough for you to be comfortable with it.  The four of you nose back out into the bumpy current and continue to Glasgow.  You're amazed at how long the river seems to be chopped up by that barge.  You travel in his waves for about 3 miles.

Rounding the final bend you see Glasgow, pretty as a picture, perched up on a hill.  You also see the Glasgow ferry operating.  It's hours are 630am to 630pm.  You can see the ferry crossing to the Glasgow side with a few cars aboard.  He spins and points upstream for his landing at the boat ramp.  Cars drive off and more drive on.  Your guessing he's going to pull away and head to the other side.  You're right!  You slow your stroke and drift along, waiting for your chance to pass after he heads across.  He moves out and you start paddling again, going past the boat ramp and to the checkpoint just downstream and adjacent to the ramp area.  It's 12:05pm.  Not bad for having to wait out a barge.

Glasgow is a checkpoint you've been looking forward to.  There is a bathroom in the park with a shower.  Your ground crew is there and he is ready.  Shower's free, he says.  He hands you a towel and a little bag with everything you need and points the way.  I'll take care of your boat.  You don't argue.

Fifteen minutes later you are clean and in dry clothes.  The rain has stopped for now and you eat the sandwich waiting for you.  The checkpoint closes at 6pm and it's only 1230!  Your proud of the time you've banked and you're also very protective of it.  It's like a savings account and you hate dipping into it.  Your next deadline is Cooper's Landing 56 miles away.  You have until 2pm tomorrow to get there, but you feel confident that you will beat that by a long shot.  And the next stretch of river includes the Lisbon Bottoms and you are eager to get there see what it's all about. 

Only 199 miles to go in this race.  Not quite halfway, but you're feeling like you've made it over some sort of hump.  It's no longer a question to you of will you finish.  Now, you're thinking how fast can I finish?

Points of emphasis:

Barges require respect.  The seem to move very slow until you cross in front of one.  Never pass in front of one unless you have plenty of real estate to make your move.  IF you find yourself on the channel side and unable to make it safely across before he arrives, that's ok.  Pull off the river anyway.  Haul your boat up and onto the rocks.  Or his wake will do it for you.

Ideally, you'll be off channel and in the shallower water where he cannot go.  Wing dikes offer plenty of protection.  We passed 3 barges last year the entire race.  And they all pulled over at night which we are grateful for.  We're hoping that Jeff Barrow, our barge specialist, can make that happen again. 

Checkpoints will be crowded.

I've said it before but it needs repeating.  I think we're going to have bottlenecks in the first few checkpoints.  Lexington will be fast and furious but it has two boat ramps and lots of beach.  I don't worry about Lexington so much.  Waverly has very little room as does Miami.  Miami may be the worst because so many folks will probably overnight there.  Just understand that you will have to carry your boat up the ramp and into the camping areas if you are staying.

Glasgow is tough only because of the ferry.  It was supposed to be gone by August 1st, but it's here through September at least.  The city is going to try to construct a beach landing area of sorts below (downstream) of the ramp.  But again, it won't have room for everyone at once.  Listen for instructions from the volunteers when you land.  They'll have systems in place for where to leave your boat for an extended stop.  If you are just there to sign and go, you shouldn't have any major problems.

Hills Island can be a nice place to catch a break.  And there are many other sandbars and islands most years if the water is not too high. 

We'll discuss Lisbon and on to Jeff City next time. 

Call or email with questions.


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Reply #4 - 07/14/09 at 02:35:46
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #5

Glasgow to Jeff City

Let's talk about Lisbon Bottoms.

You'll need to perform the following.

Click this link:

This should land you in Glasgow, MO.  You should see a satellite image of the town and the river.  This should have opened in a new window and you can switch between the map window and this one as we proceed.

Now, use your mouse to click and "grab" the picture and move it such that you are traveling downstream of Glasgow.  (towards the bottom of your screen.)  We're going to Lisbon Bottoms.  You can use the + and - buttons to zoom in or out.  It's about 10 miles.  You'll know we're there when you see the big chute branch off the river right where the towboat and barges are in stream.  Go find the towboat, I'll wait here.

 Don't believe anyone who tells you that you'll save 10 minutes taking that chute.  Not true.  That chute can be shallow, clogged with logs, who knows?  Stick to the main channel.  But I want you to see this view so that if you're passing through Lisbon in the dark, you'll have some idea of what you're hearing over there on your left.  It will sound like a waterfall.  That's because it is.  There is a great deal of water falling through the notches in that dike.  They are BIG notches.  Look how they compare to the size of the towboat.  If you are hugging that shore you could get pulled in there at some water levels.   If you hear that rushing water, move over to the right a comfortable distance away.  Ok.  Scroll downstream some more.  Note the odd and aggressive dike structures... some stretching out towards the middle of the river.   You'll hear them in the dark.  Those that are perpendicular to the flow especially.  I recommend a good light so you can spot those and have time to move away.  You'll also see the big sandbars in Lisbon.  It's not uncommon to be paddling through there at night and hit sand a few inches below you.  This just means you're too far over that way.  It can be shallow a good ways out from those sandbars.  There are buoys out there too to warn the barges.  You'll hear these as well.  A good light tames them.

Ok.  Scroll to where the chute come back in to the river.  Just about 2000 feet downstream of the chute rejoining, you'll see some very big wing dikes on downstream right.  It's a spot where the river gets very wide.  It's 3 big wing dikes in a row with a big sandbar grown up around the last one.  This spot gives people fits in the dark.  Here's why.  You're trained to "stay in the middle" and at night you judge the middle by the treeline on both sides of you.  Well, look at where that would put you in this scenario.  If you come around that corner where the river suddenly doubles in width and you aim for the middle of the treeline, you're headed straight for those dikes.  And let me tell you, it's hard to see in this picture, but they are REALLY big.  Way bigger than those baby ones you've been seeing for the previous 160 miles.  You ain't seen any like this yet.  And when you see them, you just can't make sense of them.  We've had people get confused and paddle in between them and end up back in that dead end, waist deep in mud, unable to get out until the sun came up.  

Now that you've studied these aerial views, that shouldn't happen to you.  If it makes you feel better, print the picture and tape it to your canoe.  These satellite images are your tax dollars at work.  So are the wing dikes!  

You get passed those big ones and you've made it.  Smooth sailing after that.  

To review...

Lisbon Bottoms is a section of river that tried to run wild in 1993.  It blew through with that chute and buried a bunch of farmland in 6 feet of sand.  The powers that be decided that wasn't so bad and they left it that way because it makes for a more natural river which is good for wildlife AND helps mitigate flooding.  But leaving it like that meant having to do some heavy duty diking to keep a usable navigation channel in the main river.  

Two areas to watch out for regarding Lisbon.  First, the head of the chute.  Don't get too close and don't run it looking for a shortcut unless you've scouted it ahead of time.  Second area of concern is the lower section with the 3 mega wing dikes.  These are cause for disorientation in the dark.  Unless you do your homework.  Which you just did.  

And so ends Dispatch #5

Call me anytime with questions.

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Reply #5 - 07/18/09 at 10:55:03
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #6

Well, the Lisbon Bottoms questions in my email box have dried right up after that last dispatch.  Looking at Lisbon from a satellite view has made it understandable for folks.  Thank you Google.  And by the way, you can view the entire race course that way and put your mind even further at ease.   Visit every checkpoint, mark every island or sandbar... Would it be comforting to know that there's a big sandbar a couple miles away on the left when you're sleepy and need a break?  Sure it would.  Knowledge is power out there.

History tells us that most of you will transit Lisbon in the daylight hours and without even the slightest pucker.  But nighttime, even in the most straightforward section of river, can be a bear if you don't have the right equipment.  Besides navigation lights, you really need some sort of forward light that can cut the darkness.  And in 3 years we've seen some very creative solutions to this. 

We've seen the big mag light velcroed on the bow, the remote spotlight c-clamped up front, welded apparati holding lights of various shapes and sizes.  And the classic standby, the old handheld rechargeable spotlight, sitting in the bottom of the boat ready to be picked up and flicked on at any moment to cut the darkness and mist and show the way to go.  Or more importantly, the way NOT to go.

A very wise person once told me, you don't know what you don't know.  This person was always saying smart stuff that made me think.  It's good to hang out with people like that.  Besides, she always smelled good.

Her point was that if you're not going to KNOW something, at least know you don't know it... so you can be prepared to deal with it.  If you don't know where every tricky spot on the river is, that's ok.  But KNOW that you don't know it and have the tools to deal with it.  Good lighting, a knowledge of how to handle your boat, experience dealing with your boat and gear, the ability to self-rescue if you were to swamp... all that stuff goes a long way towards a good adventure out there.

Let's pick up with our virtual paddler doing very well at Glasgow.  1230 in the afternoon and some good time banked up. 

...The shower and food have you feeling good.  Plenty of daylight to get through Lisbon Bottoms.  Your ground crew asks what you want to do.  "I think I'll move on down the line.  Maybe get through Lisbon and meet you at Franklin Island?"  He nods.  "Sounds good.  I'll get your boat ready."

You're on the water by 1pm. Glasgow is mile 226 and Franklin Island (not really an island but a boat ramp) is at mile 195.  31 miles is a nice break in the 56 mile haul from Glasgow to Cooper's Landing checkpoint.  Franklin Island is also near Boonville, a big town on the river.  Your ground crew will have plenty of time to resupply himself there so he can resupply you.  You estimate it will take you 4.5 hours to get there.

Lisbon Bottoms is really beautiful.  The prettiest stretch of river you've seen so far.  Big sandbars and lots of deer and herons everywhere.  You see the chute entrance and a half hour later you see where it comes back into the main river.  And ahead you see some bluffs.  The river is changing.

After the river straightens and heads south you start getting some wind in your face.  This slows your pace and looking at your watch and the mile markers, you realize you're going to be a little late to Franklin Island.  The headwind is discouraging, but looking at your map you see that soon, near Boonville, the river will turn to the east and the wind shouldn't be so bad. 

Boonville comes into view on river right.  Franklin Island is few more miles on river left.  Not a mandatory checkpoint but you still see a bunch of boats there.  You did the 31 miles in 5 hours.  You're tired and it's hot.  The thought of 25 more miles to Cooper's is depressing.  Your ground crew senses your mood and tries to improve it. 

"You look hot."
"Seriously.  Why don't you cool off a bit in the water while I cleanup your boat."

You wade down the ramp until its knee deep and then you sit.   You realize he was right and you were overheating.  Your body wasn't able to cool you fast enough but the 80 degree water is doing the trick.  You stand up a few minutes later and you're a different person.  You grab a candy bar and get back in the boat.

"I'm going to Cooper's.  Should take me 3 and a half hours, I'm guessing.  Just before 10pm."

"Got it.  I'll see you there.  Good luck."

Feeling so much better, you head out.  The sun is slipping lower and the day is starting to cool.  9 miles out of Franklin you see the I70 bridge near Rocheport.  You know that the next time you go under I-70 you'll be almost to the finish line.  Just before the Rocheport bridge, on river right, is Taylor's Landing access.  You see some boats there stopped, including your old friends in the tandem.  You shout and wave and they wave back.  Looks like they're getting back on the water. 

In half an hour they've caught up with you and offer their familiar wake.  You slide right in and you talk and compare notes of the last 50 miles.  The time goes fast again and by 9pm it's dark.  By 930 you see what must be Cooper's landing up ahead on the left.  You know that there's small wing dike in the water just above the Cooper's Landing boat ramp.  You'll have to swing out around it and then behind it to get in the eddy there.  The tandem has been there before so you follow their lead.  It's full dark now but you hear lots of voices up around the store and there are lights everywhere.  The ramp is covered in boats with a narrow walkway between them.  You power up and your ground crew catches your nose and hauls you out.  "I've got some Thai food ordered.   I've also got you a tent set up in case."

That all sounds great.  You eat the Thai food from Chim's and crawl into your tent where a sleeping bag and pillow await. 

"Wake me up at 4am.  I want to be on the water before the sun comes up." 

"Ok" he laughs and shakes his head.

Before you drift off to sleep you do a little math.  At 4 am when you wake up, the race will be 44 hours old.  You've gone about 200 miles with 140 to go and you'll have 39 hours in which to do it in order to meet your goal of an 83 hour finish.  Very doable.  Plus, you're about to take a 5 hour nap.  You're setting yourself up for a good home stretch.

Points of emphasis:

It will likely be very hot during the race.  Be watching yourself and others for signs of heat exhaustion.  If you're feeling sluggish and slow, it's your body telling you to rest and cool down.  Take a break and find somewhere safe to get wet.  It can be an instantaneous fix to the problem.  Once you let your body get ahead of the cooling curve again, your mood and pace will improve.  Drink constantly and monitor your output.  If you aren't peeing, you aren't doing your job on drinking.  If you aren't sweating, that could be worrisome.  Ground crews should be paying attention to this.  You should see sweaty paddlers looking for a place to pee every time they land.

Cooper's Landing is a private enterprise on the banks of the river.  Mike Cooper does a great job hosting us and we are very grateful.  He runs a little convenience store on his campground and also sells Thai food and sometimes has live music and events.  There is tent camping available... usually 10 dollars but last we heard he was going to waive the fee for 340 racers!  Thanks, Mike!

Be sure to thank him if you see him and patronize the store if it works into your plans.  We hope to have Cooper's as a checkpoint for years to come.

More next time.  Email me or call with questions.


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Reply #6 - 07/18/09 at 11:43:50

goldfishgoddess   Offline
2X MR340 Veteran
The Docks, Pembrokeshire Wales

Posts: 308
Cooper's Landing is a little slice o' heaven.  They also have a breakfast in the morning and make the most wonderful corn meal breaded French toast with syrup, eggs, and sausage.  Both mornings while I was camping there during the workshop last April, had breakfast first thing and never felt hungry until dinner time.  Getting coffee from a paper cup, the ladies stopped me.. "Go ahead, have a real cup," they offered.  I walked over and took a cup from their shelf of old pottery cups.   They make you feel like family.

Sitting outside, you are right by the river with a wonderful breeze and view of the grand Missouri from daybreak to sunset.  Some of the seating is on picnic tables, some are rough-hewn log chairs and benches, and some seats are straw bales.  The camping is small but friendly, and fires are allowed.   Porta- potties are extremely clean, and they've also got a handicapped accessable one.  The little shop is very very basic but they've got a few camping and kayaking supplies as well as coolers filled with soda pop and a freezer with ice cream bars and popsicles.  When I told the staff I was going to be in the race this year, they all had a story to tell  and I was impressed with how much they love this group, and how moved they were by the participants.

Lots of love from Wales, United Kingdom.
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Reply #7 - 07/18/09 at 18:36:02

West Hansen   Offline
7X MR340 Veteran
2X MR340 Record Holder
3X Gritty Veteran
Kawnivore Record Holder
Kawnivore Veteran
Gritty Fitty Record Holder
He who hesitates is lunch.
--Chuck Darwin
Austin, Texas, Third Coast

Posts: 1623
At Cooper's make sure you travel pretty far down river of the boat ramp. I'd say about forty yards, before heading back up in the eddy. The rocks under the water are deceptive and will cause all kinds of mayhem and even some cathartic verbalisms. Play it safe. It's easy to paddle back upstream in the eddy.
Also, stay away from the creepy angry divorce guy living on his boat with his cute daughter who gets put in dangerous situations while paddling with her angry divorced guy dad. He's not in a happy place. --West

Cognitive Dissonance: when being wrong just isn't an option.
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Reply #8 - 07/19/09 at 13:44:12

goldfishgoddess   Offline
2X MR340 Veteran
The Docks, Pembrokeshire Wales

Posts: 308
a couple photos to illustrate what West and Eric are talking about.
First, the turn to the checkpoint landing:


And the angry guy.  One little passenger is his daughter, the other little passenger is his dog.

Lots of love from Wales, United Kingdom.
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Reply #9 - 07/19/09 at 14:52:40
Scott   Ex Member

Thanks, Catrina for the pictures of the landing.  That's a view looking downstream.  The wing dike sticks out as described.   And a portion of it is submerged in this photo.  Be sure to swing out around it and then back in.  I heard a couple of 6 man boats tried to jump it last year and it didn't work out. 

After that incident I believe someone from River Relief walked out to the tip of the submerged portion and stuck a solar landscape light, probably the same one in the foreground, out at the tip so folks could see.  It will likely be there again this year.
IP Logged
Reply #10 - 07/22/09 at 02:51:42
Scott   Ex Member

Please review...

MR340 Rules

1. The Missouri River 340 will officially start at 8 AM Central time on August  4, 2009. The starting point is Kaw Point Park, Mile 367.5 in Kansas City, Mo. All boats will start together.

2. The race will officially end at exactly midnight of August 7, 2009, (88 hours) or when the last boat has reached Mile 29 marker 340 miles downstream, whichever comes earlier. A  team's participation in this event ends when they have reached the Mile 29 marker before midnight of August  7th, 2009, or when they notify race headquarters that they have withdrawn. Teams still on the Missouri River after midnight  of August 7th, 2009 are electing to continue independently of the race.

3. Each race craft must be propelled exclusively by paddle power (double or single blade) while on the water. No rowing configuration is permitted. No sail or kite is permitted.

4. All participants agree to appear in this Event related media coverage free of charge.

5. For any "shortcut" to be legal, it must have a flow of river water through it. Overland portages are not allowed. Portages over exposed "wing dams" for convenience are not permitted. Outside assistance is not permitted.

6. Outside assistance that provides intentional aid in the forward progress of a canoe/kayak is not allowed. This includes towing, wake riding, deflection of wind and "rafting up". However, limited interaction between the competitor race craft, as is the case in most canoe and kayak marathon races, is acceptable. This will be restricted to only wake riding and wind deflection. No towing of race craft is permitted.

7. Ground support is allowed for racers but is not mandatory. A ground crew may assist with procurement of supplies, set up of tents and preparation of meals. Ground crew may not, in any way, assist with propulsion of the boat. They may only touch the boat when the boat is in contact with the shore. Physical contact with support can only occur when the boat is grounded. No contact on the water is allowed. No support provided from a support boat is allowed..

8. Infractions of any rule during the Event will be grounds for time penalties or disqualification to be reasonably and fairly determined by the Judges Committee.

9. Deliberate littering of the river is illegal. Teams must keep their trash in their canoes/kayaks and either transfer it to their support teams or go ashore themselves to properly dispose waste.

10. All team members should understand there are serious risks involved in this endeavor. The hydraulics associated with many of the wing dams along the river are inherently dangerous. The greatest risk, however, is from the numerous large and small power craft that ply the great river. Constant vigilance, clear thinking, and quick reaction will be essential at all times. Good judgment must dictate when it is time to rest. All team members (racers and support personnel) will enter this race at their own risk and will not hold this event's organizers, judges, officials, and sponsors liable for accidents to personnel or damage to any property.

11. Anyone paddling solo in this event must be at least 18 years of age on August  4, 2009 or at least 16 years of age if part of a tandem team accompanied by their parent or legal guardian.  (Note that the parent or legal guardian must sign the liability waiver for the 16 or 17 year old.)

12. All participants in this Event, including paddlers and other team members must sign the "Amateur Athletic Waiver and Release of Liability". This waiver is required by the United States Canoe Association for participation in this event.

13. Multiple teams may not share paddlers. Teams may share ground support.

14. Teams must make formal contact with race officials at each designated checkpoint. Formal contact is defined by boat or paddle contact with shore at the checkpoint and signing of clipboard. It is not required that you exit your boat. Checkpoints will be manned by volunteers and race staff until the checkpoint deadline passes. If you are not going to make a checkpoint by the proscribed deadline, you must make contact with a race official by phone prior to that deadline. If you elect to end your race you must make it a priority to contact race officials and let them know.

15. Each racer must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver at all times while on the water. A whistle and an emergency chemical night light must also be attached to each life preserver at all times. A PFD must be worn at all times while on the water. This is per the United States Coast Guard as part of our race permit.

16. Boating at night is dangerous and the organizers of this event do not require teams to do this. The decision to paddle at night is made solely by each team. The following guidelines are provided to minimize the risk of serious injury.  Full navigation lights are required for night travel.  This is proscribed by Missouri State boating law.   http://www.boat-ed.com/mo/handbook/lights.htm ;  This would include red/green lights on the bow and a white stern light.  Paddlers should also have an LED or chemical light affixed to PFD in case of emergency.  A white light (flashlight) for signaling should also be aboard.

Craft Requirements

17. There are no restrictions on the design of the canoe/kayak.

18. The original craft must be paddled from start to finish. Repairs may be made to the craft during the race, but other alterations are not permitted.

19. Any part of the craft (rudders, outriggers, etc.) which will be below the water line during any portion of the race must be "on board" from start to finish. A space must be available on each side of the canoe/kayak close to the bow on which to affix the official race number. Each team may choose their own 4 digit number upon entry on a first come, first served basis.

20. In formulating the rules that govern this event, every effort has been made to foresee all situations and problems that may rise, however, officials of the Missouri River 340 retain the right to change or amend these rules at any time without liability or recourse from any party regardless of the circumstances. Should such changes or amendments be made, every effort will be made to notify all entrants.
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Reply #11 - 07/23/09 at 23:56:26
Scott   Ex Member

Dispatch #7

The tenor of the most recent emails and phone calls have changed... there is an intensity in your voices now.  Some have concerns they need assuaged.  Some have riddles they need solved.  Some just want to talk about the race.  I'll talk.  Call anytime.  913-244-4666.  Don't sweat or worry needlessly over something.  Call me.

Here's the latest news.

I got some intel sent to my phone that Kaw Point is looking better and better for race day.  Thanks to the sender... whoever you are.  I appreciate it.  The pictures he sent show that the shoreline downstream of the ramp is getting a makeover and should be much better than in previous years to be used as an additional launch area.  This helps.  But you'll still want to get there early.

I'm a little shocked at some folks who I talk to on the phone and through the course of the conversation I realize they do not know about the mandatory safety meeting the night before.  You are required to attend.  You much sign in to this race at that meeting to prove you were in attendance.  If I have to go, you have to go.  Hilton Garden Inn 520 Minnesota Ave.  Check in starts at 4pm.  Be sure you've checked in prior to 7pm.  Safety meeting at 7.  Then you'll be dismissed to try and sleep.

Let's talk Glasgow.  To review, there is a ferry that runs while they repair the bridge.  It moves cars across the river.  Ferries them, if you will.  It takes up the entire boat ramp in this process.  We can't use the boatramp as a checkpoint.

The ferry was supposed to be gone by August 1st.  That will not be the case.  It runs from 630am to 630pm every day.  If you arrive in Glasgow between those hours, you will need to watch for the ferry so that you don't get in the way.  This should not be a major concern.  Timing a left hand turn out of wal-mart is a much more difficult operation.  There's only one ferry.  It's movement is predictable.  Please be smart.  Don't try to beat it by crossing in front of it.  If anything, cross behind it. 

Since we cannot use the ramp we are moving the checkpoint to the downstream end of Stump Island Park.  Same park.  Different end.  So, you go PAST the boat ramp and start looking for a wing dike on the same side (left)  It should be the very first wing dike after the ramp.  Go PAST this wing dike and then cut in behind it.  The checkpoint is there and will be marked.  Be aware that when the ferry is not in operation, it parks just upstream of this wingdike.  You will be downstream of the dike.  The landing will be right under the blue mile marker sign reading 226. 

Let's talk Klondike.  This ramp has a history of getting buried in mud every year by high water.  The ramp is in an eddy... that's why they have this problem.  The city of St. Charles manages Klondike.  They are fully aware of the current state of the ramp and are intending to have it scraped clean in time for the racers.  They are waiting until the last minute because as the water falls, more ramp is exposed and more mud... so it's better to wait until the Monday before the race to get er done. 

Klondike is the last checkpoint before the finish.  Thus, we can assume that the racers will be nicely spread out and Klondike shouldn't get too congested.  There is a streetlight at Klondike in the parking lot.  We've been assured that it will be working for the race.  Klondike should not be hard to spot at night.  Also, there are landmarks to guide you in.  First, there is a HUGE power plant on the right bank, opposite of Klondike.  This is the Labadie Coal Plant.  You will see this thing for hours before you get there.  But once you do get there, you should definitely be looking left for Klondike.  It's a bit further downstream.  Quarter mile or so.  There will most likely be one of our safety boats there as well.  I'll attach a picture of the powerplant.  This photo was actually taken from Klondike Park would be my guess.  So, the view is from downstream looking up.  See picture at bottom of this post.

Lots of questions about maps.  These are great...

Print the pages you need.  Keep em aboard.  They are handy.  The only downfall of this map is that it doesn't show the Klondike boat ramp.  Just mark it with a pen.  It's easy to spot.  It's where the Katy Trail comes down and nearly touches the river near the town of Klondike.  Mile 56. 

That's it for tonight.  Contact me with questions or better yet, post them here so everyone can get an answer.

Power Plant...

labadie.bmp (549 KB | )
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Reply #12 - 07/24/09 at 09:47:34

Sbemke   Offline
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 21
Here is an additonal pic of the Labadie Power Plant from the 2nd Anual MO 340 my teammate Brett took.  This was a great morning on the final leg of the race.

P7270050.JPG (134 KB | )
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Reply #13 - 08/01/09 at 00:01:45

Eric Farris   Offline
2X MR340 Veteran
MR340 Record Holder
Kawnivore Veteran
Kawnivore Record Holder
Branson, Missouri

Posts: 139
Scott, are we due for a new dispatch?
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Reply #14 - 08/01/09 at 08:41:48
Scott   Ex Member

Final Dispatch:

We're ready for you.

Kaw Point is ready for you.

Up and down the Missouri River, cities, towns and villages are ready for you.

The carp are even ready for you.

3 days to go.  Are you ready?

Last minute notes:

Mandatory registration and safety meeting.  Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Ave. in Kansas City, KS.

Sign in anytime between 4-630pm.  Safety meeting will start promptly at 7pm.  The hotel is providing an all you can eat buffet of bread and pasta in the ballroom next door immediately following the meeting.  $7.95  can't beat that.

Checkpoint Hospitality is better than ever.  Read about it here:

Maps for ground crews, produced by veteran ground crews can be found here:

Glasgow Checkpoint has been adjust slightly.  It is still downstream of the boat ramp but is now just upstream of the wingdike on a sandy beach in Stump Island Park.  Thanks to racer Megan Haskamp of Glasgow for helping coordinate the effort with the city.  The checkpoint will be well lit and obvious, day or night.  If you can find the boat ramp, you can find the checkpoint.

Jeff City (Noren) checkpoint is on a large sandbar adjacent to the boat ramp.  Again, no problem seeing this.  We are using the sandbar to allow the boat ramp to stay clear.  The sandbar is adjacent to both the ramp and the park.  

We cannot block boat ramps.  There were complaints last year from boaters waiting to launch or load boats that the ramps were blocked.  If you are staying at a checkpoint for more than 30 seconds, please beach away from the ramp or pull your boat up and off the ramp.

As always, I ask that you watch out for each other out there.  We have 12 safety boats, more than are required for our permit, but I like to think we have 290 safety boats because we will all take care of our fellow racers.  If you see someone in trouble, lend a hand.  Especially in the first few miles of the race.  There are so many of you packed together that it would be difficult for a motor boat to intercede.  If there's a capsize or other problem in downtown KC, do your best to help.

Weather is looking pretty darn good.  I don't want to jinx it.  But yeah.  Pretty darn good.

The river is above average for this time of year.  Not much below last year's high water run.  At least at Kaw Point...  We do not have the big contributions from the Grand and Osage rivers that we've had in the past.  But still... a faster river than one would expect in August.

Don't overpack.  Keep a fast, nimble boat.  But don't scrimp on safety gear.  

I've said it a thousand times, but it needs to be said again.  If you drop out during the race, you must call us or notify a checkpoint.  At the safety meeting, when you sign the roster, you are IN the race.  If for some reason you don't show up at Kaw Point in the morning you need to call and let us know.  Otherwise we will be expecting you at Lexington and will start looking for you if you do not show up there.  

Thanks to all of you for helping answer questions on the forum and for sharing your hard earned knowledge with fellow paddlers.  It has a been a blessing to the race staff to have so many friendly folks helping out.  We look forward to meeting new people and seeing old friends at the safety meeting and at the awards dinner in St. Charles.  We wish you the best of luck and a safe, enjoyable race!

See you soon!


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Reply #15 - 08/01/09 at 17:03:37

phatbrother1   Offline
MR340 Veteran
Fort Scott Kansas

Posts: 10
Scott...not sure if I have seen it or not, will there be phone numbers for checkpoints or race offilcials listed on the forum or in the safety meeting?
I thought I had seen some, but cannot find any...maybe race day jitters a little early?
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Reply #16 - 08/01/09 at 17:27:56
Scott   Ex Member

You'll get a contact card at registration the night of the safety meeting.

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Reply #17 - 08/02/09 at 12:55:11

awaller   Offline
3X MR340 Veteran
Kawlloween Veteran
Gritty Fitty Veteran
Kawnivore Veteran

Posts: 269
If you want to print it in advance and add it to your charts, Karen posted a pdf version of the safety card in this thread:


(It's Pretty far down)

See you all soon!

(Am I the only on who can't stop watching the Countdown timer!  Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic Toc...)
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Reply #18 - 08/03/09 at 13:51:16

Russ   Offline
12X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot
Kawlloween Veteran
Gardner, Kansas

Posts: 273
rivermiles staff are headed to Kaw Point.  We will see you all tonight.  our days of countdown are under one--we are at the wake up!!!  Good luck all, be safe

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