Dispatch 3 [2023]

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 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

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