Flood and Weather Outlook
I hate to even bring up the F word (flood) but it's something we have to talk about. Recent heavy rain in KC and upstream have primed the situation. And more rain is expected in the next 72 hours. So, while there is a lot of room in the river, and a lot of room for optimism, we all just need to keep an eye on it. The good news is that we should have all the information by Friday evening after the river forecasts come out. And before most of you would be traveling.
Another thing to note. With the Kaw (Kansas) River moving so much water, we probably won't have the slack pool at Kaw Point that we are accustomed to. So there will be a bit of a treadmill for you to manage the morning of the race to stay behind the starting line. Just gently paddle upstream and drift down as a warm up or find some slower water along the bank, stick the nose of your boat in the mud and hold position with a paddle. Easy enough.
On a brighter note, the temperatures are looking good. Mid 80s with lows in the mid 60s. This will likely mean an increased chance of fog. But you'll be faster during the day with lower temps and high water. So a bit of a fog layover night one is not going to hurt anyone. You'll be much farther along the river than you would otherwise have been with low water and high temps. Please don't paddle in fog.
Monday, August 3rd.
Just a reminder that the safety meeting is held online. A link will be sent Tuesday, July 28 to your email. Please check spam. The video is hosted on Youtube and should be able to be watched on any device. Please forward to your partner or ground crew as you feel is needed. Here's the link as well: https://bit.ly/MR340Video
A waiver will also be attached to the email. I have also attached it to this post at the bottom of the page. Please print this and fill it out legibly and bring it to Kaw Point on Monday, August 3 anytime between noon and 8pm. Masks required and social distancing from those around you. We are offering an 8 hour window in hopes that crowding will be minimal. Ground crew doesn't have to come. But we will have you check in for the first time at Kaw Point using your phone and RaceOwl if you've downloaded it or MR340 Checkpoint Texter or similar app. We want to make sure you have help for that first one so there will be a Check In table where you will complete it live. And questions can be answered. So if your ground crew is there, they can do that part with you. OR, you can just show them later... they do NOT need to be there.
Feel free to stage your boat that day at your risk with no paddles or gear. We will have folks all night at Kaw Point watching boats and safety boats.
A High Water Race
Higher water is faster and that's the good news. You'll complete each leg of the race in less time, assuming you Stay IN The Boat as much as possible. If the river is moving well and the temperatures are moderate, what are you doing on shore? You will got shore time with fog or storms. Make hay while you can!
The bad news high water means less sandbars and less shoreline. And that some places will be more challenging to land your boat.
Less shoreline means your vigilance about weather is all the more important. High water limits your chances of an easy exit from the river so if you start to see signs of bad weather like distant lightning.... or if fog starts to build on the water...it's important to start looking for whatever exit the river gives you. Because there may not be another easy shot for a mile or two. And that's a long way to go when things get urgent.
We're hoping Hills Island will have some sand. We still plan to have a safety boat there starting at sunset day 1. It's usually a much quieter place to try to sleep than Waverly or Miami. However, with faster water, most folks will pass Hills Island before they're ready to sleep.
This generally means that Miami is very crowded. And nearly impossible to sleep because of slamming car doors and just... lots of people. Again, with a good fast river and hopefully good weather, there are some easy miles to be made night one.
Between Miami and Glasgow we will place a safety boat at the ruins of Dalton Bottoms ramp. The flood broke the ramp last year and washed out the road. Your ground crew can't get there but if you set off from Miami, hoping for Glasgow and just can't make it, Dalton is about 2/3 of the way there and still has a flat area up top that you could rest. Pit toilet is still there but hasn't been serviced in over a year and who knows that that means. But the Safety Boat Quindaro will be there lighting up the ramp and probably have a little fire going. And they'll have a scouting report on the toilet.
Cooper's is another ramp that can be a bit tricky at some water levels. Too soon to know what we will have there but be ready if arriving in the dark to listen to instructions from our ramp crew on best line to take for getting in that eddy by the ramp.
Good chance that the peninsula at Hermann will be submerged creating a bit of a whitewater wash downstream of the checkpoint. Remember, you can simply portage up and around to the lower ramp... about 20 yards, and be below the patch of white water. Don't sweat this at all. It will makes sense when you see it and you'll understand. Land at the upstream ramp in Hermann (marked by our flag and flasher) and you have the option to depart at the adjacent downstream ramp.
The only other ramp I can think of that presents any weirdness is Washington. It's not a Paddle Stop or a checkpoint but folks stop there sometimes. At some water levels the ramp is hard to hit because of current.
Our finish line will be marked with the finish banner and tents and lights. Volunteers will be there all night and day. Our current plan is to use the ramp near the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center. If that were to be unsafe for any reason, we would improvise on the beach just upstream of the ramp, shortening your race a few feet.
Just one more reminder that all our permits say we will be using masks at the shore sites we've been allowed to use for this event. Keep your mask on board your boat and when you're 100 yards out, just slip it on and come on in for a landing. Our volunteers will be at the waterline, wearing masks. And because their masks are for you, they are hoping you'll wear yours...for them. They will be there to help grab the nose of your boat and make landing as easy as possible. Please maintain the mask in situation like that where 6 feet is not possible. Like if you go get in line for food... please wear a mask. Now, if you go off to your distant vehicle and nobody is nearby, you can opt to take you mask down. But be ready to re-deploy.
If you or your ground crew should start to show symptoms, please be smart and exit the race.
Speaking of landing at a ramp, some folks are pretty wobbly those first few steps out of the kayak. I have seen dozens of people stand up on the ramp for the first time in 8 hours, and then fall backwards into the water. The ramp is sloped and your balance is off. If you stand straight up, you'll start to tip back. And your balancing muscles are exhausted and you will reach, well, a tipping point.
Lean forward those first few steps. Better to fall forward where you can catch yourself than to fall backwards. You'll hear us at the ramp as we're helping you say, "Lean Forward"... this is why.
If 300 boats start, about 200 will finish. That means 100 boats will quit or DNF (did not finish) somewhere along the way. The most important part of that decision is to let the race officials know via the same way you've been checking in. We need to know boat number, boat ramp and DNF in the message. RaceOwl and MR340 CheckPoint Texter both have a DNF button. If you send a regular text, just include the pertinent info.
Obviously, not telling us you've left the race creates huge problems. You will be expected at the next checkpoint and when you don't show up, we have to start looking. You can't just mumble it to a boy scout as he hands you a burger. It has to be done officially. Everyone has been really good about this over the 14 previous years.
Awards and Souvenirs
There are trophies for 1st-3rd of each division. Medals for all finishers. And the very first boat to make it to St. Charles based on total finish time, gets their name engraved on the Governor's Cup along with all the names from the previous 14 races. Sadly, we won't be doing the usual awards ceremony due to the virus, but you'll get your award as you finish.
And our souvenir table will be open during the day on Thursday and Friday. Please stop and support! The proceeds go to Missouri River Relief who help keep our river clean and do educational programs. And they are out on the river helping provide safety every year for the MR340. You'll see their boats out there. Big, beautiful aluminum boats built to haul an entire 4th grade class on the river or a load of tires they've just removed from the river. Great people, great cause. Please support and get some sweet swag.
The souvenir table will also be available at Kaw Point, August 3rd, noon to 8pm.
The time is upon us. One more storm system to get through. Keep the faith! We hope to see you at Kaw Point in a few days.
Thank you all!