MR340
MR340

Hello Racers!

I hope you’re excited and gearing up for the 19th Annual Missouri American Water MR340! We're excited to see returning racers and new racers join us on the river this July for an experience of a lifetime! There will be moments of highs and lows as you train, participate, and recover. This is an ultimate challenge that will stick in your memory and a story you're sure to share around a campfire!

The MR340 is Missouri River Relief’s biggest fundraising event of the year. We are excited to bring you this event as part of our portfolio of river activities which includes cleanups, education programs, recreation, and paddling races on the beautiful Missouri River. In addition to the MR340, we’d love to have you join us at any of our other upcoming events!

As we’ve done in previous years, we will send out a series of dispatches over the next few months highlighting pertinent information racers and ground crew should know. We will also direct you to the MR340 website to explore, where all these topics are covered in more depth.  

Each racer and ground crew should read all the dispatches, visit the links provided, and explore our website. You are responsible for knowing the information provided in dispatches, emails, and on the website as well as ensuring your ground crew does as well. This dispatch will cover updating your info, fundraising reminders, and an overview of the information found on the website.

Before we dive in completely, we want to recognize Christina Ruiz for doing an outstanding job these last two years as Race Director! Christina’s last day with Missouri River Relief was February 23, 2024. We are grateful for the wonderful work Christina accomplished building up the racing community and improving all aspects of the race.

Christina shared the following, “Acting as Race Director for the Missouri American Water MR340 has been a real privilege. Being in the weeds of my favorite race came with the wonderful and unexpected surprise of me being able to relive all my own past MR340s again and again. That same excitement of the unknown, the digging deep to complete a challenge, and the celebration of accomplishment has carried me through my own position. Thanks to you all who have been part of my beautiful river journey. SYOTR.”

I have much appreciation for all Christina has done! I joined the team in November and have benefited from wonderful training by Christina. I have already been in communication with many of you and will continue to do so in this role of Race Manager.

Fundraising Deadline

Our first reminder is the fundraising deadline of April 1, 2024. After April 1st, any account under the $200 fundraising goal will be charged the remaining balance plus a late fee of $1.25, along with the standard credit/debit card processing fees. Each registration receives a fundraising link you can share with others to donate in, we encourage you to share that with family and friends. Did you know we have three levels of Perks to encourage racers to fundraise as much as they can?! These stay active after the race, so keep on fundraising!

Your Info

Correct registration information is important for our safety dispatch, safety boats, and personnel. Please be sure you information is complete and up to date. Send any updates or changes to: racing@riverrelief.org This includes your contact info, boat number/color, your ground crew and emergency contact information.

Check out the roster page. If you don’t have a boat number listed, it means your number selection was already in use when you registered. When you think of a new number, use Ctrl-F to search on the roster page to check the number is not already in use. Email racing@riverrelief.org to have the boat number updated. If you see a “TBD” listed in your boat on the roster, it means you have a partner or team member who hasn’t registered. Send them to the registration page and have them include the same boat number and team name so we can match them up with you. The roster page also shows you who else is registered in your division- take a look!

MR340 race dates this year are July 23-26, 2024 with mandatory Check-In at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, KS on July 22nd between noon at 8:00pm.

Rules

Be sure to read through the rules. You are responsible for knowing this information and sharing it with your ground crew. Every racer is required to have an in person or virtual ground crew, meeting specific stipulations. Your boat is required to have your boat number in 3inch stickers affixed to both sides of the bow above the waterline. Be sure to read through these rules along with the others to ensure you/your team, your boat, your gear, and your ground crew are in compliance.

Resources

The resources page has six categories to explore that will inform you of required gear, safety precautions, race tracking, race map, ideas on prepping, and ground crew information. Each of these areas contain vital information. Check them out.

The top of the page hosts a link to a public facebook group. Ask a question and you’ll get a variety of advice fast. There is also a search option, allowing you to see if a question has been asked before and what the responses were. It’s also where some of our sponsors can share info on sales and promotions. This group is chatting about MR340-related topics year-round, so jump in any time!

Race Course section provides information on checkpoints and paddlestops, a race course map, a map of ramps, and other race course information including race check in, race start/finish line, and what the time cut offs are for each checkpoint.

Plan and Prep provides links to resources to assist you in these months leading up to the race. Our race calendar provides info on races happening on the Missouri River and other rivers around that allow you to get out now to test yourself, your boat, and gear.

Ground Crews section covers what is required of a ground crew and what possibilities a good ground crew can open for racers.

Safety page covers a variety of topics from our safety boats and dispatch to 'The Reaper' (you need to beat the Reaper to checkpoints, go to the page to find out the details), weather related precautions, and will have the updated Safety Video that is required to watch.

Race Tracking covers the RaceOwl tracking system used to automatically check in/out of checkpoints.  Future dispatches will cover this in greater depth.

Gear section will cover required gear and recommended gear. As you prepare, a great way to show gratitude to our race sponsors is by purchasing through them when able. Check out our sponsors page to see the list of 2024 sponsors.

Show off to your friends in MR340 gear purchased from our online shop. 100% of the proceeds benefit our nonprofit organization, Missouri River Relief.

Finally, looking for a place to stay in Kansas City, KS or St Charles, MO? We have hotel block information here. We hope to have more options added soon. If you would, let us know where you stayed last year and/or plan to stay this year in the Kansas City area. This information will allow us to offer more hotel options in the future. Use this form.

We can’t stress the importance of training! Get on the water, test your gear, your setup, your boat, and teamwork. See what’s it like to be in the river at night with a full moon illuminating the way. You’ll be hearing of opportunities to meet up and paddle with others, take that opportunity when you can! There will be racers in the community sharing tips and tricks that worked for them, these are wonderful places to get ideas.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Taby Lane, Race Manager, racing@riverrelief.org

Shoutout to our wonderful title sponsor:

Hello MR340 veterans and MR340 soon-to-be veterans!

This is the fourth and final email dispatch in a series leading up to the 18th Annual Missouri American Water MR340. Please review all of the 2023 dispatches located on our News & Updates page, make sure you have all the required gear needed for this race, that you have a flexible plan sorted out with your ground crew, and that you’re still confident you can take on the challenges that the MR340 will present. We want you prepared to have a safe and unforgettable 340-mile experience on the Big Muddy.

You and Your Boat

Please double-check the Roster. If you are still lacking a unique boat number or a teammate hasn’t registered, now is the time to sort that out ASAP. Email any updates to racing@riverrelief.org.

The Safety Video is Ready!

All racers are required to watch the 2023 Safety Video. Included is important information you need to know for safely completing the MR340. You will be required to check off a box on your Race Waiver that you’ve watched the video and have read all the Dispatches.

Heads up – it’s a long one...again. Make a movie night of it. If you can invite your Ground Crew over, be sure to offer them some good snacks and drinks at the very least, because if they don’t already know, they’re about to find out what they have gotten themselves into. Speed up within the YouTube settings if you wish. Pause and take notes if you need to.

2023 Safety Video

Mandatory Check-In on 7/31/23 at Kaw Point

As a reminder, you are required to attend Race Check-In at Kaw Point on 7/31/23. We will be there from Noon until 8pm stepping you through the process. It shouldn’t take long. Be sure to have your appropriate RaceOwl app already downloaded since you will perform your first official Checkpoint check in here. More details about Race Check-In can be found in Dispatch #2. More info on RaceOwl below.

Race Day Parking

Make a plan for how you’re going to make your way into Kaw Point on race morning. We have a 2-page Parking Map that you need to review. Plan to come to the race early, well before your race start time (7am for solos, 8am for all other divisions). The great news this year about parking is that you have the option to park in the huge municipal lot #4 again for free, between 5am and 9am, located between State Ave and Minnesota. Lots of room there with zero headache.

Ideally you are parking outside Kaw Point Park at one of the lots available and walking in via the Riverfront Heritage Trail that comes right into Kaw Point Park. The Safety Video goes into detail about the parking options and suggestions.

The last thing you want to deal with on race morning is getting directed away from Kaw Point Park when its parking lot is already full. We want all of you to have a relaxed start with plenty of time to get on the water before you hear the countdown of the race begin.

The RaceOwl System

The RaceOwl System includes a website, smartphone apps (RaceOwlRacer and RaceOwl), and racer tracking capability. Checkpoint and location data from RaceOwl provide real-time status and results of all racers during the MR340. Racers must provide their position along the race course. This is required for our safety protocols.

RaceOwlRacer is the app to be used by racers. RaceOwl is the app to be used by ground crews and spectators. The website option for ground crews and spectators is also available, www.raceowl.com.

RaceOwl has undergone some great updates for 2023 thanks to Jon Marble. So, if you have used it before, you’ll want to re-educate yourself a bit and also check out the new features. If you’re brand new to using RaceOwl, no worries, we have a Race Tracking page that should have all you need to know.

Please dig in to that Race Tracking page. All racers and ground crews need to understand how this system works and be ready to use it during the MR340. Please don’t wait until the day before the race! We will have RaceOwl help at Kaw Point Check-In, but the more you can read through the details and also have the appropriate app already downloaded on your phone before arriving the better.

The First Miles

If this is your first MR340 or even your first race on the Missouri River, it’s not a bad idea to have your ground crew shadow you a bit within the first 50-mile stretch. Maybe they drive ramp to ramp and just watch you pass at each, in case something comes up and you need to pull over. If you have a rudder malfunction, realize you forgot your food bag in their vehicle, or have something else come up, there are convenient locations you can connect. Better to do this in these places than wait all day to remedy something as far downstream at Waverly.

We have a Google map and list of all possible boat ramps along the race course you and your crew should review here. Riverfront Park, La Benite, Fort Osage, and Napoleon are all ramps on river right, before even getting to Lexington. Lots of options to pull over the first day. And if you find you need to leave the race, these are great locations to DNF too.

Race Photography

To help document and showcase the MR340 this year we have brought on Chris Hammond from RainbowMarks Photography out of Wildwood, Missouri. Chris has been shooting sports photography for 20+ years through his RainbowMarks Photography business.

Chris is set to cover the MR340 from start to finish. Through a distinctive blend of technical expertise and artistic vision, he aims to portray the tenacity and spirit of you all and your dedicated ground crews! Chris will be at Kaw Point for Check-In offering pre-event photos of racers and crews for anyone who would like one. You will be able to order an 8x10 of these Check-In day prints to be picked up at the finish line in St. Charles. (Shipping is also an option if you can't pick up in St. Charles.)

Throughout the event Chris will be shooting various locations along the river and will be camped out at the finish line to capture finishers as they land in St. Charles.

As we get closer to the event you can find more information about MR340 photo package options on the RainbowMarks Photography page. Post-event you will find links to all of the photos from the race on this site as well.

If you see Chris with a camera, give him a wave! Actually don’t do that, just keep paddling and smile. 😊

Thank you to RainbowMarks Photography for the generosity of donating 5% of all August profits to Missouri River Relief!

Finish Line Party

Our wonderful MR340 finish line sponsors are once again gearing up for an entertaining crescendo to your race week. If you find yourself unable to make it all the way to St Charles self-propelled in your boat, we’d still love to see you at the finish line party!

This year the live band on stage is Al Holliday and The East Side Rhythm Band, a local St Louis area-based group sharing with us early R&B and Soul. Music starts around 6pm, then we break for the Awards Ceremony at 7pm where we acknowledge top three division winners, after which the party continues on until 9pm. Please join us if you can!

MR340 Sponsors

We so appreciate all of our sponsors and partners that help make this race a success. If you’re looking for some last-minute gear or are just curious as to who our dedicated supporters are, visit our Sponsors page and click on any to learn more about them. You will see some of these fine folks at Check-In on 7/31 and at the finish line in St Charles on Friday 8/4. Please tell them hello and thanks if you have the opportunity.

Missouri River Relief

The MR340 is Missouri River Relief’s biggest annual fundraising event. By participating in the MR340, you are supporting our mission to connect individuals and communities to the Missouri River through our education programs, river cleanups, and other recreation opportunities. We hope you come to love the Missouri River as much as we do, and we thank you so much. 340 miles of thanks.

Christina Ruiz

Race Director

racing@riverrelief.org

Hello MR340 racers!

This is the third email dispatch in a series that you will receive leading up to the 18th Annual Missouri American Water MR340. We can’t say thank you enough for the fundraising some of you are continuing through your individual fundraisers for Missouri River Relief. I’m continually reminded how amazing the MR340 race community is by not just the fundraising goals many of you have set to support our mission to connect people to the Missouri River, but also by the huge amount of information sharing and encouragement that exists on the MR340 Facebook Group.

If you’re new this year to the MR340, you won’t be new to the race much longer! In just a couple months you will be a veteran too. The community keeps growing, and we’re glad to have you. First though, there’s the whole racing across the state of Missouri thing.

You and Your Boat

Double-check your info on the Roster. Some of you accidentally registered into the wrong division, don’t have a unique boat number, or have lost a partner and need to move to a different division. Make sure we have you and your info correct on the roster and email racing@riverrelief.org any updates.

If you see a “TBD” listed in your boat on the roster, it means you have a partner who isn’t registered. Send them to the registration page and have them include the same boat number and team name as they sign up so we can match them up with you.

Race Start

It’s going to be very crowded at Kaw Point for race morning. We’ll have an updated parking plan published soon, but remember, you can leave your empty boat at Kaw Point while you are at the mandatory Check-In the day before on 7/31/23. Anything to make your morning efficient and smooth with your crew is going to help you avoid some extra stress.

We ask that you take care of any boat adjustments and supply organizing before getting yourself and your boat near the ramp. Take all your selfies before you get on the ramp, and please request that your family and friends not follow you once you begin taking your boat toward the ramp, unless they are there to help you carry your boat down. We will guide you down in two nice and neat single-file lines. Our goal is to get everyone on the water in time for their start, and it’s not always an easy task to make this happen.

Do you have to launch from the boat ramp? Nope! Launch from a nearby bank there at Kaw Point if you like, onto the Kansas River. If you can do this, it sure saves you time. Once on the water, paddle upstream a bit on the Kansas River and find a place to park yourself in your boat away from the ramp area while you wait for the race countdown.

Being nervous is normal. Try to focus on relaxing along the bank, taking some deep breaths, and admiring those clean clothes you’re wearing. It’ll be you and a few hundred of your closest soon-to-be friends and competitors out there on what will be 340 miles of Missouri River. Enjoy the moment.

Solos start at 7:00 a.m. All other divisions at 8:00 a.m.

You must be upstream of an imaginary line directly across the river from the upstream boat ramp edge at race start. Once the countdown for your start is over, you're off!

If you're new to the race, be aware of the confluence cluster. Use the whole mouth of the river as you leave the Kansas River and enter the Missouri River. Even better, hang back to watch and feel it out. The water can be very choppy here with all the paddlers and the change in current from one river to the next. The Missouri River will turn your boat downstream (to the right). Give your boat space to avoid collisions with others.

If you find yourself tipped over, try to stay calm with your boat and wait for a safety boat. If someone tips near you, help wave down a safety boat and hang out with the person in the water until the safety boat nears.

Food Along the Course

We strive to have concessions at all the Checkpoints and most Paddlestops. Many of these are non-profit groups that depend on the race for their annual fundraising. You can visit our current list of Food Along the Course at any time, and be sure to check this list closer to race dates for updates or changes. Bring some cash and be sure to remind your ground crew about these options too.

Think Ramp to Ramp

It’s not easy to wrap your mind around 340 miles of paddling day in and day out. So don’t! Break it up in sections from ramp to ramp. Are you meeting your crew at Lexington the first day? Plan for Kansas City to Lexington. That’s 50 miles.

What do you need in order to do 50 miles? What is your plan with your crew at Lexington? What are you reloading into the boat at Lexington? When you pull in to Lexington, you and your crew will know your general plan. Assess yourself along the way.

So you made it 50 miles. Over. Forget about it. Your race just started over. Assess. Are you good? Anything causing concern for you? Do you feel like you are up to the next distance before you meet your crew again? If all is well, you’re back at it.

You’ve got 23 miles. Repeat the process.

For a number of racers, something happens in this process that causes them to pause to try to get control over a situation. Maybe it’s a long rest in an air-conditioned car because they are feeling a little too hot for what feels right for them. Maybe it’s something annoying in the boat that needs fixed. Maybe this isn’t what they thought it would be. Maybe it’s more serious. Maybe this is the end of their race.

The consistent assessment of your situation on the water and at ramps with your crew can help you make good decisions about your race. If you’re not feeling confident about the next 23-mile goal for any reason, talk it out. It’s easier to pause at a ramp with your crew to sort it all out than push on and have issues 5 miles later.

What to Expect - The First Two Days

There is no doubt that what you experience will be your own unique race. And many veterans will agree that each additional MR340 race in which they participate is unique too. The MR340 is composed of so many different people, details, scenarios, and river miles that it’s really impossible to get a repeat. It’s one reason it gets us hooked to do again and again!

That being said, there are a lot of commonalities in some things you can expect. Please read up on What to Expect from our Race Course page on the MR340 site. Included are some things to think about for your race planning too.

You Know You Best

We want you to have the best MR340 experience possible. And we want you to take care of yourself in preparation for this event and while you are on the race course. This race will test you. For some of you, you will be tested in ways you’ve never been tested before and in ways you didn’t imagine. The MR340 can be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. Race week is not your average 9-5 Monday through Friday. We trust that because you have chosen to register for this race you are up to its challenges.

Everyone has their own unique set of things they have to be aware of regarding their own health, and those are details you need to share with your ground crew. Do you have a medical condition that you need to monitor? Do you have medications you need to take with consistency? Do you have any medication or food allergies? Do you carry an EpiPen?

Talk it over. Tell your crew what they can help keep an eye out for when they see you at your stops. You’re going to be exhausted, and it’s sometimes harder to monitor yourself once you get deeper into the river miles. Give your crew the info they need so you can rely on them as you would within any other buddy system. That’s part of their purpose. Utilize your crews.

Your Safety

We have a Safety page that includes a variety of topics from heat related illness to tracking weather. Please read through all the information. We will also cover these in detail in an upcoming Safety Meeting Video, but the more you can educate and prep yourself and your crew on these subjects the better. You can also watch last year’s 2022 Safety Meeting Video on that page too.

Safety Meeting Video Coming Soon

We’ll let you know when the 2023 Safety Meeting Video is ready for you to watch. It is required that you watch the video and read all of these dispatches before the race. If your ground crew lives near you, make it a party and get together to watch it. We’ll send you the link when it’s ready.

Finish Line and Awards Ceremony

When you step out of your boat at the St Charles finish line ramp, we will award you your medal and potentially a trophy right there at the water’s edge. It’s an emotional moment, and we’ll be there cheering you in. And if you cry, well, we might cry too.

We have another great finish line party in the works Friday evening at the Lewis & Clark Boat House right next to the finish ramp. We’ll have some specifics for you soon, but expect another live band on stage and feel free to invite your ground crews, family, and friends! Snap some pics as a group at the official finish line sign.

We will be recognizing all podium finishers (1st – 3rd) live on the music stage during the party, around 7:00 p.m. If you are an early MR340 finisher and can stay around for the party and awards, we’d love to see you there.

Tim Sanders Kayak Paddle Raffle

Thanks to a donation from the very talented Tim Sanders of TS Paddles, we are raffling an MR340-inspired touring kayak paddle with all proceeds supporting Missouri River Relief! This unique paddle features the visual representations of 50 hallucination stories that Tim personally documented from MR340 racers. Purchase tickets online now through noon on August 4th. We will announce the winner during the MR340 Finish Line Party the evening of August 4th. See all the pics and get all the details to purchase your tickets on our raffle page.

We’ll have at least one more dispatch email coming your way. In the meantime, if you have any updates you need to communicate or if you can’t find an answer on our website to a question you might have, send me an email.

7 weeks until your carb load! 😉

Christina Ruiz

Race Director

racing@riverrelief.org

Hello MR340 friends!

This is the second email dispatch in a series that you will receive leading up to the 18th Annual Missouri American Water MR340. Thank you all for your amazing fundraising for Missouri River Relief! All fundraiser links will remain open through the end of the year, so feel free to continue to share on social media and among friends and family. We’ll continue to send out fun perks for those of you who reach certain fundraising tiers. If you haven’t yet, check out the Leaderboard to find out about the amazing offer from Llama Racks for racers who raise $1500 or more.

You and Your Boat

Double-check the Roster! If you don’t have a boat number listed it simply means your number selection was already taken when you registered. To select a unique number, use Ctrl-F to search on the roster page for a number not already in use. Email racing@riverrelief.org to update. Or just let me know if you want me to pick one for you. If you see a “TBD” listed in your boat on the roster, it means you have a partner who isn’t registered. Send them to the registration page and have them include the same boat number and team name as they sign up so we can match them up with you.

Your Waiver

Please print and legibly complete your 2023 race waiver. Bring it to Kaw Point and drop off during Pre-Race Check-In on Monday 7/31/23. We will have some blank ones there if you forget, but it will save you time to bring yours with you. One waiver per paddler per boat. Once you have read all racer dispatches and have watched the 2023 Safety Video (we’re working on that and will let you know when it’s ready for you to view), be sure to initial the top of your waiver indicating you’ve done these things. Also include your boat number in the upper right. Read it all and fill it out appropriately.

Pre-Race Check-In at Kaw Point

Check-in at Kaw Point on 7/31/23 is mandatory for all racers. We’ll be there from noon to 8pm for you to go through the Check-In process. You’ll turn in your waiver, pick up your t-shirt, and grab a required safety card with safety info you’ll keep in your boat (we’ll have some printed on waterproof paper for you). You’ll double-check all of your contact and race info with us and provide any last-minute edits. Chat with some of our race sponsors that will be available, load up on some MR340 and Missouri River Relief merch at our big merch tent, and get your last minute RaceOwl questions answered. You’ll have your first official Checkpoint check-in via RaceOwl at Kaw Point during this time. More RaceOwl info coming in a future dispatch.

You are welcome to drop off your empty boat during Check-In. This is also a good time to check out the Kansas River and available bank space to launch the next morning. We will have folks at Kaw Point Park all night keeping an eye on things. Leave your empty boat at your own risk, but we’ve never had any issues with this. Then bring your paddles and other race gear and supplies the morning of race start. It’ll make your early morning arrival for the race a lot easier. We’ll have specific parking info available for you in an upcoming dispatch.

Other Ramps

The reason we say the MR340 is non-stop is because there are no required stops along the course. Once you leave Kaw Point in Kansas City at race start, you aren’t required to stop anywhere until the finish line in St Charles. Is it realistic to not stop anywhere? Nope, it’s not! And it doesn’t mean your best approach is going to be to load up you and your partner in a canoe with all of your food, water, gear, and supplies needed for multiple days and nights. No, no... The Reaper can smell these boats miles away. What this really means is you can make some best choices for what works easiest for you and your ground crew to meet.

Are there other ramps besides the Checkpoints and Paddlestops? You bet. Find the Google map with all available access noted, and a full list of each ramp here. Share with your ground crew. You have options out there.

Ramp Etiquette

Speaking of ramps. You are going to be joined by hundreds of other racers on the Missouri River, and you all will look amazing out there in your boats, connecting with this big and beautiful waterway. And though the river is big and there is plenty of room for you all on it, each boat ramp along the course is the size of, well, a boat ramp.

Keeping the ramps clear is especially important from Kansas City to Glasgow where the race pack is most clumped up. There is a steady stream of boats trying to land at Waverly, Miami, and Glasgow. So, if you stop at these places, be quick to exit your boat and get your ground crew's help to then carry it up and ideally off the ramp so the next boat can land. If you’re in a team boat that is not easily manageable for getting up and off the ramp, find a piece of bank that works best for you and your crew that doesn’t block the space where ramp meets water. We will have volunteers to guide you at Checkpoints and Paddlestops. Once you're up and out of the way, you can work on your boat, resupply, etc.

Ramps need to be kept open for access by local recreational boaters and, most importantly, emergency response teams. We share the river and ramps with lots of other people, many of which consider their local ramp to be their backyard. We can help build goodwill amongst the river community by being respectful and not hogging the ramp. We know…you’re exhausted, you think you’ll only stop for five minutes or whatever… but there’s too many of us to leave boats on the ramp or blocking the trailer back-in lanes.

Knowledge is Power

Depending on the year, up to a third of all racers will not see the finish line in St. Charles. There are a number of reasons for this, but if finishing is your goal, you still have time to learn as much as you can about what to expect and how you want to plan. We have Chris Luedke’s YouTube channel and a couple other resources you might want to check out here.

Getting Familiar with the Missouri River

We touched on this a little before, but I want to mention it again. If you live near the Missouri River and have the time to get familiar with how to navigate on water, you don’t have to do it alone. Area races are good way to get familiar with navigation, and our River Race Calendar has some listed. You can also connect with other paddlers in your area on the MR340 Facebook Group to set up some training runs.

Wing Dikes

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

Bridge Piers

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

Navigating Channel Markers

Knowing where the channel is located not only helps you stay in the best water for your race, it helps you know where the barge traffic has to operate. By knowing where barges must operate, you can predict where they will go and then know how to stay out of their way. A barge can only operate in the channel. You in a little kayak or canoe can navigate outside of that channel.

The channel will often stick to the outside of a bend and slowly cross to the other side of the river near the outside of another bend. The channel moves throughout the width of the river. So how do you know where it's at? There are a variety of clues, but the easiest way to know is to learn how to interpret channel markers (also referred to as day markers). These are signs you will see on the banks with symbols indicating the channel staying along that side of the river or crossing. These markers are also reflective and can be picked up with your flashlight at night. Steve Schnarr, Director of Missouri River Relief, gives a good explanation of these markers and how to use them in the 2022 Safety Video (25-minute mark).

Buoys

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

Barges and Dredges

You will likely see barge traffic a few times during your race. Knowing how navigation on the Missouri River works will enable you to know where barges have to operate and therefore the safest areas for you to be when you encounter barges. Dredges have some of their own unique features that you need to be aware of too. Please read up on the Barges and Dredges info we have on the website and check out another one of the videos from Chris Luedke we have linked there on the same page.

If you have any updates you need to communicate about you or your boat, or if you can’t find an answer on our website to a race question you might have, send me an email.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all in a little over two months - oh my!

Christina Ruiz

Race Director

racing@riverrelief.org

Hello Racers!

This is the first email dispatch in a series that you will receive leading up to the 18th Annual Missouri American Water MR340. We are thrilled to have you join us and accept the challenge of this great race. If you’re new this year, as half of the racers are, we think you’ll find the MR340 to be an amazing experience and one of the best times of your life. There likely will be some less-best times involved, but hey, that’s what it takes to get to the finish line in Saint Charles, right? Seriously though, we can’t wait to see you in about 4 months!

Consider this first dispatch as a kick-off to your own planning and strategizing because, in some ways, this is the very start of your race. It is really important that you read all of these dispatches sent to you, visit all the links provided, poke around on our www.mr340.org website, and share all info with your Ground Crew. Knowledge is power, and that knowledge combined with your planning will determine a large portion of your success.

As a reminder, MR340 race dates this year are August 1st-4th, 2023 with mandatory Check-In at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, KS on July 31st between noon at 8:00 p.m.

Missouri River Relief

The MR340 is Missouri River Relief’s biggest fundraising event of the year. We are so excited to bring you this event as part of our portfolio of river activities which include cleanups, education programs, and paddling races on the beautiful Missouri River. In addition to the MR340, we’d love to have you join us at any of our other upcoming events. Learn more about our mission and the ways we connect people to the Missouri River at www.riverrelief.org.

You and Your Boat

Double-check the Roster! If you don’t have a boat number listed it simply means your number selection was already taken when you registered. To select a unique number, use Ctrl-F to search on the roster page for a number not already in use. Email racing@riverrelief.org to update. Or just let me know if you want me to pick one for you – happy to do that. If you see a “TBD” listed in your boat on the roster, it means you have a partner who hasn’t registered. Send them to the registration page and have them include the same boat number and team name as they sign up so we can match them up with you.

Reflective Boat Numbers Your 3" tall and official 4-digit boat number should be reflective and affixed to both sides of your bow above the water line. These help us see and identify you, especially at night. Each team may choose their own 4-digit number upon entry on a first-come, first-served basis. Race numbers are to be affixed by the racers themselves, prior to the start of the race. Numbers should be a color that is high contrast against the background and reflective. Mailbox numbers from the hardware store work great!

Rules

Have you read through all of the MR340 rules? Be sure to check those out, and if you are a returning racer, please pay special attention to Rule #32 which was updated for the 2023 race. Discuss these rules with your Ground Crew as some pertain to their involvement.

Ground Crews

Every boat must have a Ground Crew. Your Ground Crew may be an In-Person Ground Crew (highly recommended) or a Virtual Ground Crew. In-Person Ground Crews can make a big difference between someone finishing the race or not.

Please read up on the Ground Crew Requirements and what the expectations are for In-Person and Virtual Ground Crews.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid crew. A strong Ground Crew will be involved in your pre-race planning, able to physically assist you at your ramp stops, have studied the route along the course, be able to track you on RaceOwl to not only know where you are at any given time but also anticipate your arrivals, and will be aware of your potentially unique health concerns.

Ground Crews act as the extra set of eyes and ears to monitor you throughout the race. Racers can get pretty loopy along the 340 miles of paddling, but a Ground Crew who knows you well will be able to determine if that’s just the river miles talking or if you’re on the cusp of a health issue. You and your Ground Crew know you best. And they can do so much more for you to help get you through this race – not just the precious cold Mountain Dew hand-offs, but their on-land strategizing can result in you getting closer to Saint Charles even faster.

If your Ground Crew has an opportunity to help another racer, another Ground Crew, or a ramp volunteer, we appreciate them giving a hand where help is needed. The MR340 includes a lot of congestion at certain Checkpoints and Paddlestops, so efficiency at ramps and some extra muscle sure helps matters! We have an amazing race community and we’re hope your crew is looking forward to their own MR340 big and muddy experience along the way.

Required and Recommended Gear

We have a full list of required and recommended gear. Some edits to this list for the 2023 race have been made, so be sure to know what all you need well in advance of the race. Also think about how you plan to secure your gear during the race. And what happens if you flip? What could you lose in the dark? Can you get back in your boat? What’s your plan?

Some of our awesome race sponsors can supply gear to you, so go visit the Sponsors page and click on a sponsor to visit their site. Shopping with MR340 sponsors is a wonderful way to show appreciation of their race support! They are all MR340 fans, so you’ll be in great company.

Checkpoint vs Paddlestop

Firstly, you are not required to stop anywhere. This is why the MR340 is the world's longest non-stop river race. This leaves some strategy opportunities wide open, and I hope you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

You are only required to check in and out at Checkpoints, and that process is completed with the RaceOwl system. There will be new RaceOwl updates coming for 2023, and we will cover those details in a later dispatch.

Paddlestops are places where we will have a volunteer and safety boat presence. And sometimes a food vendor available.

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times have not changed from last year. You’ll want to share the list with your Ground Crew– you’re going to hear that a lot. Let’s just have you go ahead and start making a handy binder of info for your crew – very official. Plus, they are going to get hungry out there and will want to know where they can snag a hot dog. (Food Along the Course will be discussed in a later dispatch.)

Race Course Map

The Race Course Map is handy to keep in your boat and for your Ground Crew to refer to. One side even includes moonrise times. If you want to dig in deep to all available ramps along the course, we’ve got that information on the Ramps page.

You could find yourself in a situation where you need to make an unplanned stop at a ramp where your Ground Crew isn’t present. Maybe you had a boat malfunction. Maybe you are seeking shelter from an upcoming storm. Having an idea of possible stops and being flexible in these scenarios is important. If your crew has all of the boat ramp options at hand, it will increase the chances of them being able to adjust their route quickly and meet you in person where you have landed.

The Reaper

The Reaper is one of our safety boats. But she has a specialized mission and that's to run at exactly the pace that a paddler would need to run to BARELY make the cutoff times at each Checkpoint. So the Reaper is a visual on the water of where the cutoff line is at it approaches a checkpoint.

If the Reaper beats you to Waverly, you are out. If it beats you to any checkpoint, you are out. IF it passes you before a checkpoint but then you pass it back, you're fine. All that matters is that you beat her to the Checkpoint.

Read more about the Reaper and watch a video by Chris Luedke (340 Paddler on YouTube) here.

Get Out and Practice

There are some early season races in the Missouri area that can give you an opportunity to test your boat and gear. These events also provide a way to converse in person with other potential MR340 racers. Visit our River Race Calendar for more info. These races begin in the next week or so, and one might be near you.

MR340 Facebook Group

This group is 11,000 strong and is a great community of racers, crews, and paddlers who share news about training runs on the river, gear and boats for sale, Ground Crew information, shuttle opportunities, etc. Ask a question and you’ll get a variety of advice really fast. It’s also where some of our sponsors can share info on sales and promotions. There is a search option too, in case you want to see if someone else has asked the same question before you and what the responses were. This group is chatting about MR340-related topics year-round, so jump in any time!

Need some merch?

Visit our online Shop so you can show all your friends and coworkers you’re planning to do “that crazy race?!” 100% of proceeds benefit Missouri River Relief.

MR340 Website

If you haven’t browsed the MR340 website before now, it’s a great time to start visiting all the pages and read up on all the things. We have the 2022 MR340 documentary by KMBC posted commercial-free, and that is sure to get you in the MR340 mood.

If you can’t find an answer on our website to a race question you might have, send me an email.

More to come!

Your Race Manager,

Christina Ruiz

racing@riverrelief.org

Hello MR340 Racers!

This is the final dispatch, and you know what that means. It’s almost RACE TIME!

Here are some reminders for you as race day approaches:

Watch the Safety Meeting Video if you haven’t yet.

Review the MR340 race rules and the MR340 Resources page.

Watch the MR340 RaceOwl Tutorial if you missed it and want additional RaceOwl info.

Print your completed race Waiver (and remember to note on the top that you have watched the Safety Meeting Video and have read all Dispatches).

Come to the mandatory Check-In at Kaw Point on 7/11/22 any time between noon and 8:00 p.m. where you will turn in your waiver, complete your first official RaceOwl checkpoint check-in, pick up your cool race t-shirt, and grab a Safety Dispatch Card that you will keep in your boat during the race. Feel free to drop off your empty boat while you are there.

Consult the 2-page parking map that shows your best parking options and be sure you have a parking plan for race day Tuesday.

Check out the new ramp resource map that shows all possible ramps available along the race route, and share this link with your crew!

Please visit our list of all the amazing sponsors that help make this race possible. You will see some of our race sponsors at Check-In on Monday and at the finish line in St. Charles on Friday. Visit their tents and tell them thanks!

Those of us here at Missouri River Relief are so proud to have been part of this world-class race since 2008. And to have been the hosts since last year.

The community of paddlers and race lovers that have gathered around this event is something really special. The connection we all have to each other and the river is a treasure, something we need to take care to cultivate. Seeing all of you generously sharing information, ideas, tips and gentle jokes in the Facebook group is awesome. Watching you build the community in 5Ks and bigger races across the region is great to witness.

Your support of our work through race registrations, donations and t-shirt purchases makes our mission connecting people to the Missouri River more powerful. We really appreciate it and don’t take it for granted. We hope to see you at one of our other river cleanups, education programs or the Race to the Dome October 1!

And we can’t wait to share the river with you next week!

Christina Ruiz
racing@riverrelief.org

Hello again!

The 2022 MR340 Safety Video is available for you to watch!

All racers are required to watch this mandatory video. Included is crucial information you need to know for safely completing the race. You will be required to check on your Race Waiver that you’ve watched the video (and have read all the Dispatches).

Heads up – it’s pretty long. Get a snack and a beverage, sit back, and roll with it. Or watch it in batches if you like. Pause and take notes if you need to. It’s also super helpful if ground crews watch this video.

Need more info about RaceOwl? The 2022 RaceOwl Tutorial is being held on 6/29/22 7:00PM CST. We'll be joined by RaceOwl developer Jon Marble to walk through how to use the RaceOwl app for MR340 race checkpoint check-in and out and auto-tracking, and how race fans can use the RaceOwl website to track their racers' progress.

Only registered users can attend the webinar on Zoom, which allows for Q&A. Register here:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_p36ACnt2RsqoDi3MpYEwUg?fbclid=IwAR3w...

Or you can watch the presentation live-streamed on the Missouri River Relief YouTube Channel and the recording will later be shared.

Our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/rivertrash1875/

Hope you are fine-tuning your plans and getting as excited as we are!

Christina Ruiz
racing@riverrelief.org

MR340 Racers and Crews,

It’s crunch time now. We only have a couple weeks until we arrive at Kaw Point for race start. But we still have a little time to sort out the last details!

We want you to have the best MR340 experience possible. And we want you to take care of yourself in preparation for this event and while you are out on the race course. This race will test you. For some of you, you will be tested in ways you’ve never been tested before and in ways you didn’t imagine. The MR340 can be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. Race week is not your average 9-5 Monday through Friday. We trust that because you have chosen to register for this race you are up to its challenges.

YOU KNOW YOU BEST

Everyone has their own unique set of things they have to be aware of regarding their own health, and those are details you need to share with your ground crew. Do you have a medical condition that you need to monitor? Do you have medications you need to take with consistency? Do you have any medication or food allergies? Do you carry an EpiPen?

Talk it over. Tell your crew what they can help keep an eye out for when they see you at your stops. You’re going to be exhausted, and it’s sometimes harder to monitor yourself once you get deeper into the river miles. Give your crew the info they need so you can rely on them as you would within any other buddy system. That’s part of their purpose. Utilize your crews.

THINK RAMP TO RAMP

It’s really hard to wrap your mind around 340 miles of paddling day in and day out. So don’t! Break it up in sections from ramp to ramp. Are you meeting your crew at Lexington the first day? Plan for Kansas City to Lexington. That’s 50 miles.

What do you need in order to do 50 miles? What is your plan with your crew at Lexington? What are you reloading into the boat at Lexington? When you pull in to Lexington, you and your crew will know your general plan. Assess yourself along the way.

So you made it 50 miles. Over. Forget about it. Your race just started over. Assess. Are you good? Anything causing concern for you? Do you feel like you are up to the next distance before you meet your crew again? If all is well, you’re back at it.

You’ve got 23 miles. Repeat the process.

For a number of racers, something happens in this process that causes them to pause to try to get control over a situation. Maybe it’s a long rest in an air-conditioned car because they are feeling a little too hot for what feels right for them. Maybe it’s something annoying in the boat that needs fixed. Maybe this isn’t what they thought it would be. Maybe it’s more serious. Maybe this is the end of their race.

The consistent assessment of your situation on the water and at ramps with your crew can help you make good decisions about your race. If you’re not feeling confident about the next 23-mile goal for any reason, talk it out. It’s easier to pause at a ramp with your crew to sort it all out than push on and have issues 5 miles later.

STORMS

You’ve likely got a fancy smart phone with all your fancy apps on it. Use your favorite radar app or site on your phone to stay in tune with upcoming weather. Have your crew stay in tune with the weather so they can give you a call or text if they see a storm pop up in an area near you. Storms pop up out of nowhere in the Midwest.

Don’t wait for a storm to hit before you get off the water. If you start seeing dark clouds and hear thunder in the distance, you need to be ready to react. Find a safe place. Out on open water with the threat of lightening is very dangerous. Ideally you are heading in to the nearest ramp/shelter if you can, and also plan to stay at that location until you know it’s safe to proceed down river. It’s your responsibility to be aware on the water, and that includes weather. If you need to pull into a location without your crew there, do you have enough clothing to stay warm? Dry clothes after the rain? Enough calories to be stopped a while? This is part of that ramp to ramp thinking. Be prepared ramp to ramp.

PREVENTION IS KEY – Avoid heat-related illness

•      Stay protected from the sun (hats, long sleeves, cover legs, sunscreen).
•      Don’t rely on sunscreen on bare skin alone.
•      Dip your hat in the water, keep a wet handkerchief around your neck. Submerge yourself in
        water at a sandbar or checkpoint (with your PFD on).
•      Drink plenty of liquids with sports drinks intermixed.
•      Eat salty snacks. Keep eating in general. Have your crew monitor your food and liquids as
        well.
•      Staying with your crew at a ramp for a while? Rest in their air-conditioned car.
•      Educate yourself and your crew on heat-related illness. Watch out for light-headedness,
        muscle cramps, nausea, headache, confusion, weakness.
•      Share food or liquids with other paddlers if you find a fellow racer runs out while on water.
•      Keep your Safety Dispatch card in your boat. Flag down or call Safety Dispatch if you need
        some urgent liquids or food while on the water.
•      Call Safety Dispatch if you think a fellow racer is having trouble. Stay with them until help
        arrives.
•      Don’t tough it out. Heat-related illness can be difficult to reverse.

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM

Know your limit. Everyone in this race will be pushing through adversity, but there could come a point at which that push is not realistic or healthy. This is a decision you might have to make.

Again, it’s easier to make this decision at a ramp.

Don’t worry, you’re still a total badass.

If you leave the race – submit the DNF (did not finish) option in RaceOwl or text in to RaceOwl. We must know you are leaving the race. Otherwise, a process involving a phone call to ramp volunteers, a call to your ground crew, and potentially a safety boat being dispatched begins as we try to track you down. Don’t make us search the river for you when you are in a car on your way back home.

PARKING (Yeah, I know you’re thrilled. But PLEASE READ!)

Review the 2 page 2022 Parking Map and information before the race. Come up with a parking plan!

Check-In Parking at Kaw Point  - Monday 7/11/22
•      Many racers leave their empty boats at Kaw Point during the mandatory Check-In on
        Monday
        between 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Up to you.
•      Don’t leave electronics, paddles, etc. Just your boat. We will have people working all night
        keeping an eye on the area, and Kaw Point Park closes to the public at 10:00 p.m., so access
        will be limited overnight.
•      No trailer parking on Race Day Tuesday.

Race Day - Tuesday 7/12/22
Kaw Point parking fills quickly. If you aren’t there by 6:00 a.m. or so, you will probably get looped back out of the park. Plan to park outside Kaw Point when all possible.

Consider using the Riverfront Heritage Trail to access Kaw Point on foot.
(Racers/crews can easily use a foldable wagon to transport race day items to boats if they choose – great to use at checkpoints too.)

NEW THIS YEAR! Municipal Lot #4
•      Located between State Ave and Minnesota Ave – access east of N 5th St via State Ave or
        Minnesota Ave.
•      Hundreds of free parking spaces offered by the city between 5:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

Hilton Garden Inn
•      Hotel guests can park in hotel parking garage.
•      Parking is also available directly south of hotel in free city parking lot.
•      Parking lot in further south section of above is metered parking.

Street Parking
•      Various street parking is available along Armstrong and N 5th streets

Small Parking Lot
•      Under the overpass off Armstrong northbound from N. St. James St.

Kaw Point Parking – Race Day - Tuesday 7/12/22
•      Please look out for and listen to our VOLUNTEER parking attendants for any instructions.
•      Racers can also be dropped off by crew at Kaw Point and have crew park in area parking
        outside Kaw Point.
•      Spectators are encouraged to carpool if possible and use area parking outside Kaw Point,
        taking the Riverfront Heritage Trail Connector when all possible.
•      All walk-in traffic should be via the Riverfront Heritage Connector Trail to avoid vehicle traffic
        near Kaw Point entrance.
•      Big trucks/SUVs should park in far SW parking section or in area under the overpass.
•      Cars should start filling in lot starting along the north, working south
•      Do not park in the Kaw Point Industrial Park lots.
•      Note the one-way entrance on west end of floodwall and one-way exit on east end of floodwall.

YOUR RACE WAIVER – BRING TO CHECK-IN 7/11/22

Please print and complete your printed race waiver. Bring it with you to Kaw Point and drop off during Check-In noon to 8:00 p.m. We will have some blank ones there if you forget, but we might have those printed in another color so we can tell who forgot theirs. We send those names to the Reaper. Kidding on the last part!

FOOD AVAILABLE AT RAMPS

Bring some cash, and tell your crews to do the same. If you have a chance to support these groups at ramps along the way, please do!

Lexington (rm 316.4): Boy Scouts selling food in the pavilion: burgers, hotdogs, chips, snacks, and drinks

Waverly (rm 293.5): Boy Scouts selling food and drinks at both ramps

Miami (rm 263): Food will be available for sale

Glasgow (rm 226): Fresh On the Go food truck

Franklin Island (rm 195): (We’re still trying to get some food sales here!)

Cooper’s Landing (rm 170): Food trucks each day from noon until 8 p.m., plus sandwiches, drinks, and snacks for purchase in the General Store: Tues noon-3am, Wed 5am-3am, Thur 5am-10pm, Fri 9am-10pm

Jeff City (rm 144): Boy Scouts selling food and drinks

Hermann (rm 98): Boy Scouts selling food and drinks

New Haven (rm 81.4): Paddle Stop New Haven and the Lang-A-Tang Snack Shack will have refreshments available for sale at the ramp, Paddle Stop Brewery will be open Wed morning non-stop through Friday morning

Klondike (rm 56): The Nature Conservancy is offering free grilled items, snacks, and drinks

St. Charles (rm 29): Lewis & Clark Boathouse will have tacos, hard lemonades, Schlafly beer, and a few other surprises for sale

REMINDERS:

•      Email us if you have any updates we need to make for you (changing divisions, changes to
        ground crew contact info, etc.) at racing@riverrelief.org
•      Check out the MR340 Resources page
•      Review the RaceOwl information posted in Dispatch #2.
•      Check the roster.
        Do you have a boat number and, if applicable, correct teammates listed there?

The new Safety Meeting Video will be coming your way soon. You are required to watch this video by Check-In on Monday 7/11/22. The top of your race waiver that you turn in at Check-In includes a statement that you have watched the video (and read these dispatches). That’s how much we want you to watch the video!

Get ready!

Christina Ruiz
racing@riverrelief.org

Hello, MR340 friends!

If you’ve recently registered for this year’s race, please check out the previous Dispatches to catch up on a variety of race topics we’ve mentioned so far. You can also find info in the MR340 Resources that have been compiled over time. Join the MR340 Facebook community for race conversation as well. And as always, feel free to reach out if you still have any questions we can help answer.

About half of our racers are returning race veterans. If this is your first year, know that you will have a fair amount of contact with other racers on the water, especially during your first couple days. You’re not alone out there. Pick the brains of those veteran racers along the way. Every one of these folks will have their own unique pieces of advice, and many are going to be just as happy to share their experiences with you as you will be to learn from them.

And there is no end to the stories from repeat racers. I once saw Dracula in a blue bath robe on the back of Scott Mansker’s safety boat, holding his robe like a cape disguising his face. Scott was just standing there steering the boat, somehow completely clueless to the threat behind him. Dracula approached Scott sneakily on tip toes. I screamed loudly, “Scott, watch out!!” And suddenly, when Scott yelled back, “What?!”, the scary bather was gone.

Plenty to discuss out there along 340 miles.

We’re working on this year’s online safety meeting video which is required for all racers to watch. You’ll be able to watch that at your leisure and in advance of the mandatory Check-In on Monday 7/11/22. A link for that video will be coming your way before long.

Monday, 7/11/22 Race Check-In

You’ll arrive at Kaw Point between noon and 8:00 p.m. the day before the race to turn in your waiver, pick up your t-shirt, and grab a required safety card with safety info you’ll keep in your boat (we’ll have some printed on waterproof paper for you). You’ll double-check all of your contact and race info with us and provide any last-minute edits. Chat with some of the race sponsors that will be available, load up on some MR340 and Missouri River Relief merch at our merch tent, and get your last minute RaceOwl questions answered. You’ll have your first official Checkpoint check-in at Kaw Point during this time.

You are welcome to drop off your empty boat during Check-In. We will have folks at Kaw Point Park all night keeping an eye on things. Leave at your own risk, but we’ve never had any issues either. Bring your paddles and other race gear and supplies the morning of race start. It’ll make your early morning arrival for the race a lot easier. We’ll have an important race day parking plan for you in an upcoming Dispatch that you’ll want to be sure to share with your crew.

What can you expect on the water Day 1? Hopefully not Dracula, but let’s run through it.

Butterflies in the stomach. You’ll want to arrive early, load up your boat, and quickly launch into water either from the ramp or along an open bank space of the Kansas River. Give yourself time to float around upstream of the ramp or park yourself along either side of the bank. The official starting line is anywhere upstream of the boat ramp. Take some time to sit, relax, and breathe.

The race begins promptly at 7:00 a.m. for all solos and at 8:00 a.m. for all other divisions, unless for some reason we have a storm or fog delay.

Once the race begins, be mindful of the transition of water from the Kansas “Kaw” River to the Missouri River. The Kaw is slow moving and the Missouri will be faster. If you crowd in close to other racers at the start take off, you increase your chances of colliding with other boats or flipping over at the confluence. Give yourself and everyone around you some room for that movement as you angle to the right entering the Missouri.

In the event you do flip at the start, Kansas City Fire Department will have rescue boats in the water, and we will have safety boats available as well. Stay with your boat and wait for help. Fellow racers – watch out for anyone in the water and lend a hand as you would anywhere else along the course until other help can assist.

The Kaw has plenty of room from bank to bank to spread out. And this race has plenty of hours for you to afford a little time to sort out your best starting path. Check out Chris Luedke’s video on the race start for some reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pkYod_xkR8

After you pass the start and clear the upcoming bridges, you’ll eventually get into the rhythm of your first day. You’ll get passed by some boats, and you will pass some boats. Find the pace that feels right for you. It’s a marathon, so you want that sweet spot where you can maintain a steady pace without overdoing it and needing long breaks. You’ll start to notice other boats traveling at your similar speed.

As you get settled into your day you might starting to notice details about your efficiency. Hopefully you have sorted out most of this ahead of time. Here are some things to consider while you can still plan now:

1.      Weight! Less is more. Have your crew carry all the things you won’t need until the next stop where they meet you. Your crew can be your refill of everything ramp to ramp. No need to take multiple days of supplies.

2.      Time off water! Every minute you aren’t on the water is time you’re not benefitting from free current moving toward the finish line. Live in the boat. Eat in the boat. Take any paddle breaks in the boat. Pee in the boat. We have porta-potties set up at a number of ramps along the way, but your body isn’t going to coincide with those exact locations. Plus, you will lose a considerable amount of time getting in and out of ramps just for a tiring walk up to a toilet. Save your time and energy and sort out a pee plan in your boat at your local lake, river, or in your garage ahead of time. The biggest waste of race time we see happens off water. You can easily get pulled into time sucks at ramps. Throw that cheeseburger in the boat and jump back in.

3.      Fine-tuned ground crew! Your ground crew can be physical or virtual, and their primary role is to be aware of your location and health. This is easier for physical ground crews. For virtual crews, you need to have an arrangement between racer and crew for texts or voice contact at regular intervals. If your virtual crew doesn’t hear from you as planned, they are to call a safety boat to report no contact.

Your physical ground crew’s efficiency becomes your efficiency. Have them approach the race with an on-land plan that can include things like using a cart to haul your refill items to the ramp, being the extra hands to move your boat once you are off the water at a stop, the hands that remove your trash from your boat while you stretch, the extra set of eyes to monitor how much and what you are eating and drinking between stops. Text them ahead of time if you have a special need they can have ready for you.

At this point, you’re paddling along as planned, drinking liquids and eating periodically. If you are in a tandem or team boat, use the buddy system and consistently check on each other. Stay cool by dipping your hat in the river. Be aware of your present location as you travel along. And be on the lookout for barge traffic.

Barges and Dredges

Barge traffic on the Missouri is minimal but increasing. We will see 2 or 3 during race week but potentially more. Some are long haul and travel night and day. Some are short haul and just going a half mile back and forth from a sand dredge.

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

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

The other type of towboat will be pushing 2-3 barges for long distances, running night and day.  These are bigger and tend to throw a larger wake if moving upstream with a heavy load.  If you see a barge going upstream OR downstream, you need to exit the navigation channel and stay a safe distance away. This can be a good time to tuck behind a wing dike to have a snack and a short rest from the paddle.

Due to the nature of the Missouri River the towboat will be constrained to the navigation channel to assure it will have the depth to proceed.  You, being a tiny little boat, are not constrained to this channel. If you move out of the channel you are almost assured of not being in the way.  Typically, the off-channel side of the river will be the inside of bends.  Here's a great explainer video from Chris Luedke's 340 Paddler channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlvrs8ZdXv0&t=19s

After the barge let's imagine you're getting to a rendezvous with your ground crew. The Missouri River has many boat ramps and adjacent parks, but the MR340 does overwhelm the parking and ramp areas. We all have to work together to keep the ramps functional and keep things moving smoothly.

The main issue at ramps tends to be at the bottom where racers are landing, repacking, and launching in what is often a tight space. We have to leave the bottom of the ramp open so racers can land. Once you land, grab your boat (or have your crew do this) and carry it up the ramp to a spot out of the way. Only the fastest racers will get there early enough to have the ramp to themselves for the ground crew to service their boat at the waterline. Everyone else will often find a crowded ramp and will need to come up the ramp to a clear spot. Please help this happen not just for fellow racers, but for any potential emergency assistance that may need to get quickly out onto the water from a ramp.

Checkpoints

Waverly is the first official Checkpoint this year, river mile 293.5 (74 miles). And this town has two boat ramps. The first is upstream of the bridge, and the second is just downstream. You can choose either one. Both will have food available for sale from the local boy scout troop. Please support them! Both ramps will have restrooms available. If you choose to stop at Waverly, be sure it’s clear with your crew as to which ramp you plan to utilize.

Protocol at a Checkpoint is no different than any other ramp you use in the MR340. Help keep the ramp clear and be efficient. The difference is that at a Checkpoint, you are required to check in electronically using text messaging or the RaceOwl app. Check out all of the detailed RaceOwl info in Dispatch #2.

Checking in is a crucial part of the MR340 safety plan. Remember that your first check in will have happened on Monday, the day before race start at Kaw Point. Waverly will then be the second time you officially check in. We will have a couple RaceOwl volunteers at Waverly if you or your ground crew need an extra bit of help to get the hang of it.

The Waverly Checkpoint cutoff time is 8:00 p.m. Soloists have 13 hours to get there, and everyone has 12 hours. If you don’t arrive by 8:00 p.m., you are out of the race. Remember – stay efficient, especially for Day 1. The Reaper is the pace boat at the rear of the race which will arrive at the speed needed to meet the 8:00 p.m. cutoff at Waverly (and every other Checkpoint close time along the way). More info on the Reaper in Dispatch #1. Beat the Reaper.

The odds are actually in your favor to beat the Reaper to Waverly. Planning can take you far in this race. So now is the time to sort out all the details you can. You still have time!

Some of you will feel a need to hang out or even spend the night at Waverly. Resist that feeling. The park at Waverly has train tracks running through it (and loud, fast trains), and it might well be muggy and buggy. You still have at least another hour of daylight. Have your crew refill what you need, make sure you have your navigation lights working on your boat, and grab your nighttime gear you prepared. Maybe you even have a new paddle buddy you have made on the water. Buddy up and take off.

A good spot downstream to get rest is Hill’s Island, about 12 miles from Waverly at river mile 281. The Reaper will overnight here. Racers who stop at Hill’s Island will leave at various times. Watch for others heading out and join their little packs or their spread-out lines of lights down the water. Gain distance from the Reaper. Hill’s Island can be the last time you even see the Reaper. You’re then headed toward your next Checkpoint, Glasgow, river mile 226.

And there you go. You are through Day 1. You have figured out your pace, you have stayed hydrated, you have eaten and peed in your boat, you have made buds, you have encountered a barge, and you have seen the moon rise over the beautiful Missouri River. You didn’t have many surprises along the way. And you didn’t see Dracula. So far, so good.

Stay tuned for the next Dispatch with more race details.

Do we still have your correct info? Are you in the correct division? Did your partner get registered?
Check the roster: http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1637597723

Use CTRL-F to find your name or just hunt for it. Does everything look right? Is your boat number valid? Make sure your partner is registered. And Email us at racing@riverrelief.org to let us know if you have made any changes to your ground crew, emergency contact, or even boat color. We’ll get you up to date.

Thank you to all of you still actively fundraising for Missouri River Relief! We appreciate you all sharing your fundraiser links and moving up on the Leaderboard. We still have merch ready to send to you all as you hit your next levels on the board.

Keep planning! Get out on some water!

Christina Ruiz
racing@riverrelief.org

Hello again!

Thank you for all of your Missouri River Relief fundraising efforts that met the April 1st deadline! You have played a big role in continuing our Missouri River education programs, river cleanups, and special events which include the MR340.

For those of you continuing your fundraising, we’re looking forward to sending more cool MR340 merch your way. Check out the LeaderboardLlama Racks is providing car/truck racks for racers who hit our highest fundraising tier. So far, we have one racer who has hit this tier, and we hope some of the rest of you can receive a Llama Rack too!

As a reminder, the 17th Annual MR340 is July 12-15 with mandatory Race Check-In at Kaw Point Park on July 11 between noon and 8pm. When we see you on July 11, we will have you officially check-in to RaceOwl at your first ramp of the race, Kaw Point.

THE RACEOWL SYSTEM
RaceOwl is the tracking and communication system used by the MR340 and maintained by Jon Marble, a multi-year MR340 veteran.

RaceOwl is a key aspect of the race’s safety plan and consists of the RaceOwl website, texting services, phone apps and location trackers. The system serves 3 main purposes:
•      Communication: RaceOwl provides a critical communication link between race officials, paddlers, and ground crew. Safety related text messages are broadcast to participants alerting you to hazards such as barges and weather events. You may send text messages to RaceOwl where volunteers can answer your questions and assist you with non-emergency issues.
•      Location: Officials need to know that you are progressing along the race course within the expected times and in a safe manner. Race observers want to keep up with where you are along the race course.
•      Leader board and statistics: Current leader status is gathered, estimated and displayed on the RaceOwl website. RaceOwl also calculates and displays estimated racer arrival times at Checkpoints and PaddleStop. Split times, speeds, and location history are also available. 

There are two parts of the RaceOwl system!
•      The App – this is the easiest way to check in and out at official Checkpoints (and utilized for automatic tracking and check-ins/outs – more on that below).
•      The Website– this is where you, your Ground Crew and your fans at home can access the Live Race Map, Race Results, and Check-in/out times.

SETUP YOUR FREE RACEOWL PHONE APP
Download/Update the RaceOwl app for iOS or Android.
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.RaceOwl&hl=en
      https://apps.apple.com/us/app/raceowl/id1095191030?ls=1

Follow setup instructions available from RaceOwl
      http://raceowl.com/Documents/Race%20Tracking%20and%20Checkpoint%20guide%20(iOS)....
      http://raceowl.com/Documents/RaceOwl%20Tracking%20and%20Checkpoint%20Usage%20Gui...

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH RACEOWL
Don’t wait until the night before race registration to familiarize yourself with RaceOwl. To learn more about the RaceOwl system usage such as: check-in/out, tracking, app use and website during the MR340, take advantage of training materials and opportunities:
•      Review the training documents available on RaceOwl.com. (http://raceowl.com/Home/Training)
•      Follow the MR340 Facebook page and Rivermiles Forum to learn about upcoming Zoom training meeting(s) and/or training videos. Our 2021 webinar recording is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83CSjLoEiPY

It is essential that you train with the 340-practice race or participate in other race events that use RaceOwl so you become familiar with the app and the RaceOwl website ahead of the MR340. Download the app and play with it a little, you'll catch on quickly.

CHECKPOINT Check-In/Check-Out with RACEOWL
Racers must provide their position along the race course. This is required for our safety protocols. Official Checkpoint check-in and check-out provides a way for you to report your position along the race course. Minimally, you are required to know how to check in and check out of Checkpoints and have a phone capable of sending text and receiving texts from the RaceOwl text number.

Manual texts to the RaceOwl text number (8163406395) should have the form:

<boat number> <checkpoint> <day> <time> <am|pm> <in|out>

For example: When boat number 1234 arrives at Waverly just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, they text the following message to RaceOwl:
1234 Waverly tues 6:15 pm in

They have a burger and relax a while and as they leave the Checkpoint they text out:
1234 Waverly tues 7:50 pm out

Manual texting works, but an easier, less error prone way is accomplished with the RaceOwl app. The app takes care of the formatting for you and is highly recommended as it reduces your workload down to a couple of button pushes and provides immediate feedback from RaceOwl that your check-in/out was accepted.

Your first official 340 Race Check-In on your phone happens the day before the race at Kaw Point Park between noon and 8pm, July 11. Please come with the app on your phone and if you have questions we can help answer them there. Once you get that first check in under your belt, the next one isn't until the next day at Waverly. We will have some RaceOwl volunteers at this Checkpoint in case you need assistance.

Check-ins and check-outs do not have to be done by the paddler; they may be accomplished by ground crew or other volunteers.

RACEOWL TRACKING
Racers that track themselves provide RaceOwl with periodic GPS location pings of their location as they paddle downstream. Doing this provides RaceOwl with real time information regarding where the paddler is at. We strongly encourage every boat to track their position so that:
•      Safety crews have an approximate current location of each racer
•      Ground crews can know when to expect you at the next Checkpoint or PaddleStop.
•      Spectators can enjoy tracking racers during the event.
There are two ways to track your position during the race:
•      Use a satellite tracker, such as Garmin InReach or SPOT Tracker OR
•      Use the RaceOwl app for iOS or Android.

The benefit of using a satellite tracker is that you will have continuous connectivity over the entire race course. However, satellite trackers can be costly and their web setup is ‘non-trivial’.

The benefit of using a phone tracker is that the apps are free. However, you may experience a few cell phone coverage drop outs (for example the Glasgow black hole) and phones require a bit more ‘care and feeding’. That is, you will have to charge the phone. A 20000 mah charging brick is typically sufficient for the whole race’s charging needs.  Some boats will choose to swap a phone with ground crew to allow them to charge it. NOTE: if you swap phones be sure that you turn off tracking! We’ve tracked many ground crews across Missouri roads.

IMPORTANT CHANGE FOR RACEOWL IN 2022!
If you are successfully tracking, you are not required to check in and check out of official Checkpoints. RaceOwl will take care of this for you! If your tracker is misbehaving in any way, then your device will be put on a ‘bad list’, your tracker information will be rejected by RaceOwl, and you and your ground crew will get a text from RaceOwl instructing you to revert to Checkpoint check-in and check-out.

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

HOTELS
Still need a place to stay in Kansas City before the race or in St. Charles after? Here are some discounted MR340 room blocks you might want to check out:

Hilton Garden Inn Kansas City
(located a couple blocks from the Riverfront Heritage Trail which you can use to access Kaw Point Park on foot)
520 Minnesota Ave
Kansas City, KS  66101
(913) 342-7900

Use this link to make your reservation:
https://www.hilton.com/en/book/reservation/rooms/?ctyhocn=MCIKCGI&arrivalDate=20...

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles
(located upstream of the race Finish Line within walking distance)
1 Ameristar Blvd
St. Charles, MO  63301
(636) 949-7777

If you book over the phone, tell them you need to utilize the "Missouri River 340 Kayak Race" group pricing. Use MISI22C if booking online at https://www.ameristarstcharles.com/groups.

ALPINE SHOP RACE CALENDAR
The Alpine Shop Race Calendar has been updated on Rivermiles to include a variety of race opportunities for you to check out. The next race on the Missouri River is the RPC3 Shootout on May 21st and would be a great chance to test your RaceOwl app. This race from Kansas City, KS to Lexington, MO coincides with the MR340 start location to the first MR340 PaddleStop ramp and can give you a feel of what your first 51 miles of the MR340 could be like. Minus the Reaper.

ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT GROUND CREWS
Every boat must have a ground crew – physically present or virtual. Our preference is that yours is physically present, and we mentioned some details about the importance of your crew in the previous dispatch. Physically present ground crews can make a big difference between someone finishing the race or not.

If you are unsupported with a virtual ground crew, you need to consider the extra supplies that would have normally been transported in a crew’s vehicle and waiting for you at a ramp (think night-time clothing layers, first aid for those hands and heels, medications, extra toilet paper just in case, another hat because the river ate yours, etc.). Also, you need to scout out the food and water options ahead of the race so you can develop your own refueling plan. If you have any issues during the race, please do reach out to any of our safety boats which will be on the water and at various ramps throughout.

For those of you new to the race, I want to offer something additional to think about regarding what your physically present crews can be part of in your MR340.

Race strategy.

Sure, ground crews can wait around for you at Checkpoints, shove hot dogs into your mouth, and watch you slowly turning into a half-human river creature. That’s fun. But consider having them be your strategic on-land race teammates. They’ll have a blast and you’ll love them even more for it.

Ground crews can track your speed on RaceOwl (and the speed of your closest competitors) in order to know exactly when you are looking to slide in to the next ramp and have things ready for you, meet you at less used/less congested ramps, monitor your food and liquids and electrolytes between stops, give you that pep talk and shoulder massage, have a make-shift lounging spot set up in an air-conditioned vehicle or under the stars… The list and details can go on and on.

All of your partnered strategies with your ground crew turn in to you all getting to St. Charles that much faster. Schlafly’s Bankside is 440 paces from the water at the Finish Line ramp. Less if you cut through the grass.

More race info will be coming your way in future dispatches! Have any questions in the meantime? Email us at racing@riverrelief.org and we’ll get you taken care of.

Your Race Manager,
Christina Ruiz

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