MR340
MR340

07-15-24

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

Your final dispatch of 2024! This time next week I will have seen each of you at Kaw Point Park!

Check out this video of race finish, race start, and race course updates.

Race Check-In

Monday July 22, 2024 from Noon-8pm each racer will come to Kaw Point Park to check-in.

You will stop at four stations:

1. Check your info- your final chance to update your racer and boat information.

2. Turn in your wavier that indicates you watched the 2024 Safety Video

3. RaceOwl Check-in. Your first check-in for the race is Kaw Point Park on Monday, see the racer RaceOwl Zoom from last week or the resource page for help setting up your tracking. Get your tracker shared to RacOwl and/or the app ready on your phone.

Ground crews can attend the RaceOwl Zoom this Thursday at 6:30pm. (see the facebook group, featured posts pinned to the top and msg Jon for the link). 

Give your ground crews Barbara Edington’s phone number.  (409) 659-5146 if they have any RaceOwl related questions while tracking you, give her a call!

4. Pick up your race swag bag with your racer tshirt, Missouri American Water Rubber Duckie, and Safety Card.

Race Day Parking

Tuesday, July 23, 2024. The parking lot at Kaw Point Park fills up early! Usually by 5am! Check out the parking map and plan accordingly. Be there early, well before your race start time (7am for solos, 8am for all other divisions). Hopefully your boat is already staged there in the park. This year we will again have the option to park in the huge municipal lot #4 for free, between 5am and 9am, located between State Ave and Minnesota. If you’re staying at the Hilton, you’re good to go using their parking and walking over.

Most racers and crew need to plan to park outside Kaw Point Park Tuesday morning at one of the lots available and walk in via the Riverfront Heritage Trail that comes right into Kaw Point Park. There will be no drop off zones at Kaw Point Park for racers, crew or boats.

Race Day Launching

Tuesday, July 23, 2024. The start time for solos is 7am, the start time for all other divisions is 8am. There will once again be two lines to launch from the ramp. You can also launch from the point or anywhere along the bank. Check out this video for photos.  When you are in line, be ready to go! This is not the time or place to adjust your gear. When you launch, head over to the bank or upstream in the Kansas River to wait until the starting signal. The start line runs from the downstream edge of the ramp across the river. All racers must start behind that line. See the video for more information on Race Day Start, Parking, what a delay to race start would look li

Please check your information one more time- look over each field carefully. Let me know if there are any changes that need to be made.

Photo by Chris Hammond RainbowMarks 2023

Night One

Row, Row your boat, gently down the Missouri River at night.

In the last dispatch we talked about your first day. Which ramps do you plan to stop to resupply. What’s your back up plan if you’re going faster or slower than expected.

If you are at Waverly and wanting to stop, push on to Hill’s Island. If you reach Miami and can continue, go on to Dalton Bottoms. Shoot for Glasgow if it’s within your reach. Do what you can on day one while you’re still energized and riding the thrill of the race to set yourself up for success on day two and the distance you need for day three or four to hit your time.

What’s your sleep plan? Set your allotted time on land for changing clothes, sleeping, getting up to get back on the water in your allotted time. Add it all up and have a set time ready to go. Have your ground crew hold you to the set time limit.

Think about that first night. Many of you will enter a conga line of kayaks and canoes the first night. It’s exciting! As night darkens, find another boat and stick together through the night miles if you can. I recall in 2020 watching what I dubbed the “mating dance of canoes”. Rudderless canoes in front of us, watching their lights as they zigged and zagged and sudden bursts of light as they spotted buoys. The dance of lights kept us entertained for miles. The night can be dark if the moon is covered by clouds. Stay alert and know your abilities and limits.

If you run into fog, find a ramp to pull out if you can. We were stuck on a muddy bank for hours when fog suddenly appeared, and we were stranded too far from Miami to go upstream and too far from Dalton Bottoms. We learned through dispatch the fog was stretching for 120 miles. It was early morning hours near 2am when it hit. I was in the back of a tandem kayak and couldn’t see my partner, we couldn’t see the edges of our paddles or our hands. By sunrise it began to burn off and we could see the haze in the photos below.

Be sure your lights are not too bright that you lose your night vision and blind yourself or those behind you. You can tape off the back section of the lights to block the light coming directly back at you.

It’s nice to have a dry top to change into at night. I cut the legs off 2 pairs of fleece leggings to have at night when I would get chilly from the air temp and exertion. I pulled those up over my legs and arms, attaching the tops to my life jacket. I’d dip my hand in the river as night approached and during the night to test and when the water felt warm, I put on the fleece. Know yourself. Have your rain gear ready to cover your legs from splashes. Plan to get that gear ready to go before it’s too dark to see well at your last ramp stop in daylight. Have your headlamp near to grab if you need. Make sure your ground crew turns on your boat lights before your last day time stop or have your remote for your Guardian Angel lights near you, ready to turn on.

Jeff City can be confusing to launch at night with all the lights around. Picture it, what you know it looks like in the daylight.

Be sure you know how to approach the ramp you’re stopping at in the night. It won’t look the same shrouded in dark.
The banks will seem closer and train lights or the parking lot lights at Chamois can make it hard to understand what you’re seeing. Trust the research you’ve done. Listen to your ground crew, the ramp volunteers, and the safety boats.

Be alert to the sounds of hazards in the water you hear at night. If you think you’re hearing a shark splashing about- move, it’s a buoy. If you think you see a nun kneeling near a beach- it’s a buoy, probably in Lisbon Bottoms. If you hear rushing water making you wonder if you’re about to fall off what must be a flat earth, it’s probably a log jam near a chute. If a bright light suddenly spotlights you- you’re not being abducted, move out of the channel, it’s a barge. (Or it’s a helicopter dropping supplies to team Sleipnir’s Doomsword Ascends to Valhalla, call safety dispatch and report them. jk 😊)

Enjoy the experience of paddling/pedaling/rowing at night on the Missouri River, an experience not many will ever know.

Ground crew, watch out when moving your vehicle, there will be people sleeping on the ground all around!!!

Then the morning rises and day 2 is ahead of you. Push through the tired and monotony of the nonstop paddling/rowing/pedal. Ask friends to come cheer you on!

What is your plan for eating as a solo, tandem or team? Do you stop paddling and eat quickly? Do plan to have one person always paddling or will everyone take a break and float while you eat?

Plans change but starting with an idea to go with at first will help you. There's benefit to always paddling if the pace is worth the exertion. Some boat may find it better to stop and all be fully paddling vs partially paddling. Some will plan for liquid only meals to not stop at all. 

It’s your race. There are a myriad of plans and ideas that are great to use and tweak but, in the end, it’s your race.

I can’t wait to see you at the finish line day 2, day 3, or day 4! We’ll be there ready to cheer you in!

Photography

Chris Hammond of RainbowMarks Photography will once again be taking photos for the race! Be sure to stop by his spot at the finish line and check out online to get prints and copies!

Race Finish Line Party

Once you reach St Charles Ramp, park your boat, take a photo under the finish sign, and grab some food! Check our Merch tents and our sponsor tents. Come back Friday at 5:30pm to eat tacos purchased from the Lewis & Clark BoatHouse and Muesum and beer from Schlafly. At 6pm our music will be in full swing on the stage with a live band. At 7pm we'll kick off the awards ceremony. We'll finish at 9pm by cheering in the last boat!

You’ve done the work, put in the practice, and are prepared to go! See you in a few days at Kaw Point Park!

Don't forget to buy tickets for one of the amazing raffles going on!
Some Beach Outfitters and Llama Racks are raffling off 5 amazing prizes that will be drawn separately at the finish line awards show. You don't have to be present to win. Tickets are only$20!!

Truth Outdoors will have a raffle for a kayak/canoe light set with an armband and gator clip. The winner will be drawn at the race start at their sponsor booth. Purchase at ticket for $10. You don't have to be present to win!

TS Paddles will be raffling off a hand carved wooden canoe paddle based on the stories of last year's race! A one of a kind paddle! Winner will be drawn at the finish line. You don't have to be present to win! Tickets are $15!

All raffle proceeds benefit Missouri River Relief. 

See you soon!

Taby Lane

Race Manager

racing@riverrelief.org

MR340.org  Dispatches

Thank you to our amazing sponsors for making this all possible!

07-08-24

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

We are two weeks away from Kaw Point Park! There’s electricity in the air!! Time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

Be sure you know how you and your boat are getting to Kaw Point and back from St Charles. Don’t forget the logistics for getting your car back as well! Check out the parking options for Tuesday morning.

Ensure you and your ground crew are ready to go! Get your snacks packed in bags labeled by ramp stop. Measure out your electrolytes and supplements. Double check the ramps you plan to stop at, have a backup plan- in case Dalton Bottoms is flooded.

Make plans with your ground for day one if you are ahead or behind your original schedule. Go ahead and create a list of possible food runs based on food options at ramps or in towns across the course.

Having predetermined options makes it much faster when a decision needs to be made. You and your ground crew are going to be tired, limit the decision fatigue by doing part of the work now.


The hardest checkpoint to make is Waverly! You must pass Waverly by 8pm to stay in the race. Have your game plan ready! You don’t want to stay at Waverly overnight- those who do, don’t beat the Reaper. Plan to get as far on night one as you can based on your training. Shoot for Dalton Bottoms and Glasgow. Miami is always there- just don’t dawdle there!

Check out the map and look at the little ramps heading to Waverly- plan to restock there if possible, to avoid crowded ramps. Make a mental note so you and your ground crew know where you can pull over if something happens early in the race.

Once you pass Glasgow, most racers are never in danger of seeing the Reaper.

It’s GAME ON! Just like the race shirts for this year.

YOUR INFO

One more dispatch will be sent out next week. It’s important to check your information in these final dispatches and relay any updates to me (taby@riverrelief.org) as soon as you can. If you have a TBD in your boat or have a notation on the roster beside your boat that you need a unique boat number, get the info to me. Check this information below thoroughly. This will be given to our safety boat and safety dispatch so it’s important it’s correct.

SAFETY VIDEO

Here is the link for the 2024 Missouri American Water Safety Video. Each racer is required to watch this video prior to race check-in on July 22, 2024. Have your ground crew watch it as well.

In May, we sent out clips from past videos on navigating the Missouri River and Ramps you’ll encounter; check those out if you would like more in depth information on those topics. You’ll find them on the Missouri River Relief YouTube Channel on the MR340 Playlist.

RACEOWL ZOOM

Thursday, July 11 at 6:30pm we will have a zoom with Jon Marble to discuss your RaceOwl questions. Save the link and see you Thursday night!

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82513192862?pwd=6TcpGVHJIsPjbtZbfY7C6hR1taYyQm.1 Meeting ID: 825 1319 2862 Passcode: MR3402024

 
Pre-Race Check-In at Kaw Point
 
Check-in is at Kaw Point on Monday July 22, 2024. This is mandatory for all racers. We’ll be there from noon to 8pm for you to go through the check-in process. Each individual will need to stop by four stations to turn in your waiver, check your info, perform your first check-in, and pick up your t-shirt with safety card that you’ll keep in your PFD.
Some of our sponsors will have tents with things to hand out or purchase- like last minute lights! We’ll also have our MRR/MR340 merch booth! This year we’re adding new stock! We’ll have can coolies, neck gaiters with a design by Carrie Elliott, new challenge stickers along with the new race shirt and sticker available for purchase! The new race shirt won’t be available to purchase until the finish line after all racers have picked up their shirt at race start.
You are welcome to drop off your empty boat during check-in. Do not leave any gear in your boat. This is available at your own risk, but we will have folks at Kaw Point Park all night keeping an eye on things. Then bring your paddles and gear the morning of race start. It’ll make your early morning arrival for the race a lot easier. Parking fills quickly Tuesday morning and once it’s full, you’ll need to walk your boat over from one of the other parking lots.
 
Ramp Etiquette
Speaking of ramps. You are going to be joined by hundreds of other racers on the Missouri River, paddling, pedaling or rowing effortlessly; gliding down the river. There will be plenty of room once you leave the starting line on this big river. However, the ramps are small. The ramps remain open to recreational boats throughout the race. We must keep the concrete ramps clear for other boaters and emergency personnel to launch.
At the earlier ramps there will be more of a crowd so it will take more to pull off, get out and move your boat far enough out of the way. Plan for this. Make these stops as quick as you can.
Look for ramps others may not stop at like Napoleon, Cooley Lake, Sibley/Fort Osage, La Benite or Dalton Bottoms as options to stop. If stopping at Lexington, Waverly, or Miami, be ready before you hit the ramp. Run through the checklist out loud. Unhook your hydration bladder, put on shoes, get your paddle ready to stow, be ready to pull up your rudder, clear cockpit area of gear so you are ready to get out if you are getting out of the boat or have the gear on top and ready for your ground crew to restock if you are staying in the boat for a quick restock and go.
Communicate with your ground crew so they are there and ready to catch and send you on your way or let them know of issues you’ve ran into so they can have the supplies and be ready to make adjustments.  
Larger boats may need to plan to stop near the ramps on the banks.
It’s easy to forget anything outside your boat, outside the race, so make a note to be mindful at ramps.

FINALIZE YOUR PLANS
Make a laminated list of the ramps on the river. There are examples you can use in the facebook group. Search the group and you will find quite a few, here, here, here, maps. Get to searching!
Use these or make your own as exhaustive as you want. Type out what mile marker each ramp is and which side of the river. Write out your projected time of arrival and/or the projected hours between the ramps. Math can be hard when you’re tired- write out the miles between the ramps, don't expect to require yourself to figure it out each time. Highlight the ramps you plan to stop at to refuel and which ones you plan to get out of your boat. Mark down when and where you plan to sleep. For each stop, set a time limit and have your ground crew help you stick to it. Don’t lose time unnecessarily at the ramps.
You can organize and laminate these little sheets however you like. It’s nice to have it under the bungee on top of the kayak where you can see, attached to the canoe or in your PFD. Put day one on one side and the other days on the back.
Check out the food options available and make plans for which towns to stop in if needed for resupply.
 
Let your friends and family know they can follow you on RaceOwl. When they go to the website, they will click on “Missouri American Water MR340 2024”. There is a map to view all the racers across the course, or they can select “view all” on the leader board beside the top 10 racers. Once they select view all, they can search for you by boat number or name. This will allow them to see the list of checkpoints you’ve made, the time, and the estimated time for the next checkpoints. They can scroll to the side and click on the GPS tracker if you have a spot or inreach device activated with RaceOwl.
Share this info with everyone in your circle! Let them know they can AND SHOULD come out to cheer as you and others pass by. They can find areas on the trail following the river near Kansas City or the Katy Trail for most of the route. They can travel to the towns and cheer- Lexington, Waverly, Napolean, Sibley, Missouri City, Miami, Glasgow on day one and early day two. Then they can stop at the Katy Bridge in Boonville, Franklin Island, Cooper’s Landing, Huntsdale, Chamois, Hartsburg, Mokane (and more!) in the central MO area. Heading east, Hermann, New Haven, Washington, Klondike and cheer you in at St Charles!
It's a fun experience for all to partake in so let them know! 

RIVER LEVEL
With the extreme flooding in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota over the past couple of weeks, and more rain in Missouri last week, the river has been extremely high. We know that everyone is concerned about whether the race will happen on July 23. The latest wildcard is the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, which is expected to hit parts of southern Missouri, with the edge of the storms possibly reaching the last half of the race course.
Right now, things look good for the race. The river has crested at all locations along the race course and is expected to drop out of flood stage everywhere in the next couple of days. Once Beryl passes, we’ll have a much better idea, but all signs point to a good window for race week. Our goal is for all the gages along the race course to be out of flood stage. However, plan for mud. There will likely be lots of mud!
-A link to monitor the river forecast along the race course
-Follow the updated path of Beryl here
-Predicted precip for the Missouri River Basin here. Scroll down to see day-by-day forecasts
 
Our final dispatch will be sent out next week. It will contain any route updates we know and the most up to date river and barge conditions. We’ll also go in depth about the race check in process at the starting line, parking, and the race finish line.
 
Be sure to get in your online orders by July 14th. We’ll have our final merch shipments sent out Monday July 15th. After that, you’ll need to purchase in person at race start or finish or wait until after the race.
 
Be sure to get in on the raffles we have available.
Some Beach Outfitter and Llama Racks have a raffle that will run until 8pm on July 22, 2024. The winners will be drawn at the finish line party on July 26, 2024.
TS Paddles has a hand carved paddle raffle that will also be drawn at the finish line party.
Truth Outdoor is raffling off a kayak/canoe light kit! The winner will be drawn at their sponsor booth at race check-in on July 22, 2024.
 
See you in two weeks at Kaw Point Park!

Taby Lane

Race Manager

racing@riverrelief.org

MR340.org  Dispatches

Thank you to our amazing sponsors for making this all possible!

05-28-24

Hello Racers!

We’re less than 2 months from race day! I hope you’ve had time to get out on the river to check out the ramps you plan to use, test out your gear, and do some long paddles!

Be sure to check out previous dispatches if you registered after March 14th or happened to miss them in your inbox. Dispatches are posted on the News & Updates page of the MR340 website. I encourage you to share these with your ground crew for them to read; a lot of this information is helpful to them as well.

Your Info

Be sure to check your info in the emailed dispatch. Please review and email racing@riverrelief.org with any updates. Accurate information is essential for our safety boat crews.

If you are in a tandem or team division, please check the roster and let me know what the final number will be for your boat so I can remove any TBDs as needed. Encourage any teammates who haven’t registered yet to go ahead and register.

Registration is open until July 8, 2024 for new boats. Changes to registration (boat color/#, teammate, division, etc) can be made until July 19, 2024.

Training Videos

This year’s safety video will be in the June dispatch. It is required for all racers to watch the 2024 Safety Video before check-in day on July 22, 2024.

For Your viewing Pleasure

Until then, here are two links to clips from safety videos of previous years discussing navigation and ramps to help you as you prepare.

The Navigation video discusses the channel, buoys, wing dikes, and barges.
*If you have an awesome back seat tandem partner maybe they’ll sing “bad buoy, bad buoy, whatcha ya gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you” when you see buoys. Because that doesn’t get old after a few hundred miles (so I'm told).

The second video discusses nine ramps or locations on the river from the Google Earth vantage point showing hazards or obstacles in the water to be mindful of as you approach these locations. A great preparation plan to do now is to look at each ramp via google map earth view you plan to stop at or pull into; even your backup ramps. Look at the approach to the ramp, which side of the river is it on, look to see if you can spot any hazards nearby. Seeing the ramps before is beneficial to make mental and physical notes of what to expect. Scroll down the river on the map for an overhead view of the bends- Berger Bends, Lisbon Bottoms.
Be sure to especially study the ramps you plan to stop at in the night. Is there a wing dyke nearby? Is there anything nearby or do you need plan a supply run before leaving the last location? 

Once you've looked at the map, get out on the river. Plan training runs and travel between those ramps to see them in the daylight. Take your ground crew so they can see the ramps from land and practice too. Your ground crew can check out the area to see where they can pitch tents and setup to see you approach and catch you as you come into the ramp. Maybe a make a saved list for driving directions for your ground crew or save addresses on a google doc or go old school and print it out for a binder. 

Fundraisers

Check out the leaderboard! This race is under the auspice of Missouri River Relief (MRR). Your registration and fundraising support MRR’s mission to connect people to the Missouri River!

MRR Education Programs offer opportunities for children of all ages to come to the river! From field trips that bring each 4th grader in Columbia Public Schools to the river during Missouri River Days, offering summer camp, to activities for the littlest with Mornings at the River in June for those ages zero-five.

We host large scale clean ups four times a year, often based at the very same ramps you will be using! Our spring cleanups took place at La Benite Park near KC and St. Joseph. We’ll be heading to New Haven in October and hosting a cleanup out of the Lewis & Clark Boat House in St. Charles (finish line!) in September. We also offer Corporate Experiences if you want to get your entire team out on the river or our trash mobs resources if you want to do a little cleanup on your own.

The race you know and love is part of the race and recreation offerings. The Missouri American Water MR340 along with Race to the Dome and Big Muddy Boats rides.

The newest addition is a Catfishing Gear Library where anyone can check out all the supplies needed to catfish, including times to sign up with an instructor. 

Thank you for being a part of such a wonderful river conservation community! Go team!

You can invite others to be a part of this as well. Your individual fundraising link is an easy way for those you know to click and donate. You can find your link on the receipt from Pinwheel when you registered or ask me, and I can forward the receipt on to you.

There is a perk for you! It’s…PERKS! We offer perks for those that reach specific fundraising tiers. Anyone who donates via your link, contributes toward you reaching a fundraising tier. You can read the descriptions and check out the photos on the fundraising page. Each level is something enticing to work toward while helping a great organization!

Merch

Check out our online store to pick up racing swag! You can order a ground crew bundle for your hardworking ground crew!

Dispatches

Be watching for the next dispatches!

Coming In the June Dispatch:

In the Final July Dispatch:Check-In Day Info

If you haven’t already, book your hotel stays! We’ve worked out some discounts with a few area hotels in Kansas City, KS and St Charles, MO. Check out the new and updates page for more information.

Looking forward to seeing you July 22, 2024 at Kaw Point Park for check-in!

04-19-24

Hello Racers!

I hope you’ve found time to test yourself gear and your gear on the river as the weather and races have begun to heat up!

This is our second dispatch for the 2024 race. You can find previous dispatches posted in News & Updates on the MR340 website. All racers are responsible for reading each dispatch and relaying info to their ground crew or having their ground crew read them as well.

You’ll also see a new opportunity to win some gear on the News and Updates page! (woot-woot) Llama Racks & Some Beach Outfitters have put together an amazing raffle! Check it out! Tickets are $20. Prizes include: Epic V7 Kayak, Stellar Pro Wing Small Paddle, ZRE PowerSurg Medium Uncut Paddle, & 2 Llama Rack Gift Cards! Those who reach the $1500+ fundraiser will automatically receive 20 tickets into the raffle! Winners will be drawn at the Finish Line Party- you don't have to be present to win. Each prize will be drawn separately which means multiple chances to win!

Have your plans for the 2024 race changed? Let me know if you are no longer able to participate or if you have decided to switch divisions. Registration is open until July 8, 2024. Changes to registration (boat color/#, teammate, division, etc) can be made until July 19, 2024.

Planning

As you are getting out and testing your gear and yourself- be sure to check out the MR340 website where you can find loads of resources to assist you as you plan and prepare. While you're there, check out our race calendar for upcoming races. These are a great way to try out your set up and tweak as needed. Refer back to the first dispatch that covered each section of the resources page and go explore all the resources available. 

When planning, check out our Google Map of ramps along the river to decide where you may want to stop to switch out food, take a nap, and/or meet up with ground crew. The Google Earth view allows you to zoom in and see what the access to the ramp looks like from water and land. Included in the descriptions is a list of food vendors who will be present. This list is continually updated as we get closer to the race. 
We also have a written list of ramps with description of amenities, how to access the ramp, etc on the website. These two sources provide a wealth of knowledge as you plot your course as a racer or ground crew.

The Missouri River

The lower Missouri River is a channelized river by the US Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation. There are buoys, barges, bridges, silver carp, dredges, and wing dikes to watch out for as you navigate the river. Check out race course under resources on the website to learn more about navigating on the Missouri River. 

Waivers

2024 Waivers are now available. Be sure to print out, sign, and bring your waiver to race check in on Monday, July 22, 2024 between Noon-8pm. Each individual racer must fill out a waiver. Once the 2024 Safety video is released (coming soon) you’ll initial to indicate you’ve watched the video.

Community Conversations

This month, Alpine Shop- Columbia and RHO Engine Room hosted community conversations on racing on the Missouri River and the Missouri American Water MR340 specifically. RHO Engine Room will offer three more opportunities.

May 5: Alma Hopkins (MEd, RD, LD & MR340 finisher) and Amy Harrell, (PA & MR340 finisher) will discuss nutrition.

June 2: Colie Payne (2023 First time MR340 Paddler) and Taby Lane (MR340 Finisher multiple years, Race Manager for Missouri River Relief) will talk about women racing specifics.

June 9: a panel of former racers and ground crew will lead a discussion on Ground Crews. Craig Payne (2023 First time MR340 Ground Crew), Brian Frey (semi-self support racer, MR340 Finisher), Cinda Eichler (Multiple year MR340 finisher, Ground Crew), Annette Humphreys (MR340 finisher and Ground Crew).

These are all held at RHO Engine Room at 10 W Nifong Blvd Suite 115, Columbia, MO 65203 from 5-7pm.

Merch

Be sure to check out our online store! Ground Crew Bundles were just added!! These are a great way to show your appreciation for your ground crew!

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

I’ll see you in July on the river!

Taby Lane

Race Manager

racing@riverrelief.org

MR340.org  

Dispatches

03-14-24

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

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