Dispatch 1 [2018]

05/01/18 AT 18:22:28

Welcome to the 13th Annual Missouri American Water MR340!

Time to start the dispatches!  We will send a couple of these each month leading up to the big dance.  These are designed to help get your minor details sorted and to help you game out some ideas to improve your chances at finishing. 

This race is HARD.  Getting mentally and physically prepared can never start too soon.  These dispatches will help you feel more at ease and more on top of your prep.  They will also answer questions you didn't know you had and will inspire other questions which you are welcome to ask us!

For Dispatch #1, let's focus on the basics.

DATES: July 23-27, 2018

Mandatory Check In and Safety Meeting:

Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas
Monday, July 23, 2018

All racers must sign in between 2-6pm and pick up tshirts, etc.  Meeting starts at 7pm and is over by 8pm.  We call it the Mandatory Safety Meeting because attendance is MANDATORY.  It's part of our safety plan with the United States Coast Guard to conduct the training and to account for you being there.  So just be there.  It's actually quite fun to see all the paddlers and ground crews assembled in one place.  It's a huge group of over 1000 anxious, excited people.  We will go through some last minute instructions and review many safety bullet points.  It's a good time to get some last minute questions clarified and to talk to the many veteran racers in attendance. 


Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Kaw Point Park
Solo Start is 7am
Everything else, 8am

Parking the morning of the race is always crowded.  Many will have to hunt for parking outside the flood wall in the industrial park.  For this reason, it is best to stage your boat the night before. (Monday)  As usual, we will have security at the park starting Monday at noon.  You can leave your boat staged there anytime after noon and we will have folks there to watch over things.   You are ultimately responsible for the boat.  Our guys will have a roster and boat numbers and would question anyone they saw removing a boat from the premises.  They cannot prevent your boat from being damaged by someone running over it, sitting on it, tripping over it, etc.  Please don't leave paddles or any expensive items that can be walked away with. 

The meeting is at the hotel less than a mile away from the starting line.  You will get lost 4 times trying to get back and forth.  By the 5th time you'll have it figured out. 

Check the Roster:

Make sure your entry is correct.  Some of you need to choose a new boat number because the one you originally chose was taken.  I know this is disappointing.  Every year the classics like 8008 get snatched up early leaving only 9,999 other possible combinations to choose from.  If you need a new boat number, email it directly to me,

Your boat number must be a minimum of 3 inches high and be reflective.  Mailbox numbers work great for this.  Place these on your port and starboard bow.

Also, many of the tandem and team boats still need to get their partners registered.  Please get this taken care of asap.  We are trying to get shirt sizes, etc. finalized.  Also, it will help you assess the commitment level of your partner.  We've found that the longer a partner is TBD, the more likely he or she is of NOT racing and leaving you high and literally dry come race day.  Please get your partner registered by June 1st.

Training and Preparation Resources

MR340 Book!

Written by a veteran and can be either ordered in hard copy or electronic version.  This book will be a comfort and will help shorten your learning curve.  Preview pages below.

Chris Luedke's Training Videos

Wow, what can I say.  Chris is a multi year veteran with some great finishes under his belt.  His video series is crazy good.  Entertaining and very informative.  This will literally shave hours off a first timers finish time.  And also minimize a lot of anxiety.

Once you get started on these it will be hard to stop.  There are dozens of them in easy to digest sizes.  I will be highlighting several of these in upcoming dispatches.  But feel free to start early.  Here's a link to his channel.  Start anywhere.  Tons of great stuff.

We are all grateful to Chris for putting this together.  Fantastic resource that has helped a bunch of folks.

Training Races

Once you've read the book and watched the videos, why not test what you've learned with some real live racing on the great rivers of Missouri?  It's the best way to test your boat, your nutrition and your racing strategy.  And maybe most importantly, your seat cushions.  Here's a calendar of upcoming races:

There is no substitute for being in your boat and learning what works and what doesn't.  Hop in and join a race before the 340 if you can make it work. 

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times

Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

We usually don't talk about these until the 2nd or 3rd dispatches but we're getting a lot of questions about whether or not they will be the same as previous years.  That is the plan.  It's possible (but unlikely) something could change geographically but time wise, it will be consistent. 

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, July 24.   

Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 5pm Tuesday   Leg avg.  5.56mph  Total avg. 5.56   

Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75mph  Total avg. 5.62   

Glasgow, mile 226, (68 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15   

Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (82 miles) 7pm Thurs.  5.14mph  Total avg. 3.78    

Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 10am Friday  3.07mph  Total avg. 3.64   

Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 6pm Friday  5.25 mph  Total avg. 3.79   

St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  Midnight   4.50mph  Total avg. 3.85 mph

Average speeds are based on tandem start time of 8am.  Solos start an hour early and so have 89 hours to finish an 88 hour race.  Which means we have no sympathy for you missing a cutoff time by even a minute.  Because you actually missed it by an hour and a minute. 

It sounds heartless to have cutoff times but it's really the only way to do a race like this.  At our most stretched, we'll have a boat finishing in St. Charles while the last place boat is 195 miles back.  That's a lot of water for our volunteers to cover.  Without cutoff times that would probably be more like 250 miles between 1st and last place.  This is not billed as a camping trip or a float trip.  It is a very, very difficult race.  1/4 of entrants won't show up.  Of those that do show up, 1/3 will not finish. 

Not making a cutoff time is actually rare.  These are pretty generous for a race.  But they do force dropouts because folks will make a cutoff time with a few minutes to spare, but then linger at a checkpoint until making the next cutoff time is almost impossible. So they drop out. 

It is psychologically tough to be at the back of the race with nobody in sight ahead of you.  It's tough to arrive at a checkpoint and all the racers are gone except a few who are loading their boats onto their cars.  The energy is high among the pods of racers who are together and motivate each other when times get difficult.  So as you plan your strategy, best to think not in terms of barely sliding in to each checkpoint before the cutoff.  Rather, plan a strategy that banks up some time so you're not against the clock constantly.  We will talk about how to do this in a future dispatch. 

Spoiler alert:  There is no magic potion.  It's all about staying in the boat and taking advantage of those first 24 hours of the race.  A successful finish is born in those first 24 hours.  Have a good 24 hours and you can deal with almost anything in the next 48.  Come up short in the first 24 and you'll be dodging race ending sharks all the way to St. Charles. 

So bust out the maps and plan out some different goals.  You can probably add about 2.5 mph to your flat water paddling speed to get a good idea of your river mph.  I'm talking about your sustainable flat water speed over hours.  Not your sprint to the ramp because it's raining speed.  So if you're able to paddle at the lake all day at 4mph, you can probably count on that being about 6.5 mph on the river (depending on wind)  That's a 52 hour finish if you never stopped paddling.  But that leaves you 36 hours of cushion for all sorts of contingencies.

For the gal or guy that wants to finish, it's really not about a fast speed.  It's about hours and hours at a sustainable cruising speed.  Time makes up for a lot.  If you're willing to earn that iron butt award and stay in the boat you'll find yourself passing lots of "fast" paddlers in "fast" boats that are parked at checkpoints recovering. 

All the volunteers, partners and staff are pumped for this race!  We know you are too.  For many of us, it's what we think about before we fall asleep every night.  Or what we think about in a boring meeting at work.  It's an amazing adventure for one week of the year and our favorite daydream for the other 51 weeks.  We're glad you're going to be out there with us for the suffering and the misery and the beauty. 

More to come soon.  In the interim...

Note the dates and times for the meeting and start.

Read the book and watch the videos.

Check the roster and get your boat numbers and partners squared away.

Enter a short race somewhere or do some paddling to get your rigging sorted.

If you just can't wait until next time you can check out the 2017 dispatches and get a preview of what's coming.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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