07/15/15 AT 21:37:14
Things have gone about as we've been told by those in control of the water flow. They had said that the river would be falling to near normal summer flows by the end of July and things are looking to be that way. The caveat is always "barring heavy rains" and we understand that. But every inch the river falls gives us the capacity to absorb a rain event and not be postponed.
There are scattered storms in Nebraska as I type this and they are expecting 1 to 2 inches in Omaha overnight. Luckily they haven't had nearly as bad a summer of rain as we've had and so the ground is able to soak much of that up and ponds and lakes have some room. We'll see what the night brings. But regardless, we've got work to do! Because I'd say there's a 92% chance we're a go for July 28th.
As usual, I will recite some important dates and times...
July 27th, MANDATORY SAFETY MEETING. All must attend and sign in beforehand. Hilton Garden Inn, Kansas City, KANSAS. 520 Minnesota Ave. Sign in between 2-6pm. Meeting starts at 7pm. We will be setting up registration at NOON so if you're in the area feel free to come down and knock it out early. We need to process 600 racers so we can't all show up at 530.
There will be music! Miner's Bluff Band will be back by popular demand in the Grand Ballroom playing river music to pump you up.
We will have security at Kaw Point starting at noon for you to stage your boat so you'll have one less thing to do the next morning. Just leave the boat. No fancy paddles or electronics.
July 28th, RACE STARTS, Kaw Point Park, 7am solo start, 8am everything else.
Folks will start launching at 5am. Get there early for parking and to be on the water by the cannon! Because of heavy construction at Kaw Point, parking is severely limited. We will have volunteers directing parking. Be prepared to hike if you show up much later than 630. I'd strongly suggest either staging your boat the night before or arriving very early that morning. When the construction is complete, we'll have more parking than ever before... but that's NEXT year. This year, we suffer.
The RaceOwl team has made mega improvements over the off season. It's been tested and tested and we feel it's ready for the big time. There are some slight changes to the text in process. This will be spelled out on your safety card and again in the safety meeting. But it's useful to practice now. So grab your cell phone.
If you are using the Marbleware app you can set it up to text the proper format automatically. If you are texting manually, here's the proper format.
1661 Lexington Tue 04:33PM in
1661 Lexington Tue 05:05PM out
0032 Katfish Katy Wed 10:05AM in
0032 Katfish Katy Wed 12:22PM out
Note that the order is boat number, checkpoint name, 3 letter date, 4 digit time followed by am or pm and then in or out.
If you practice it properly and get it in your phone correctly, it will be easy to just follow the pattern on subsequent texts.
So what happens if you mess up and spell Glasgow wrong? No big deal. Rather than getting automatically absorbed into raceowl, a human being will have to do it instead. Again, not a big deal. So if you're ground crew is exhausted and types Glasscow instead, we'll figure it out.
The text line number for this year is 816-340-6395 This is NOT a voice number. Text only.
So go ahead and practice. And train your ground crew. And consider getting the marbleware app on your smartphone as it will simplify things for you and has lots of other cool features to get you down the river. About 200 paddlers have downloaded it so far!
Waverly Railroad Crossing:
I've been reminded to remind you that the railroad crossing in Waverly is very dangerous. The tracks run right through the park and trains come through quickly. Keep an eye on kids and watch when driving or walking over the tracks. Luckily, most of our time in Waverly is in daylight. But there will be an hour or so of darkness there. And it will be quite crowded at times so be ready to walk from up the hill down to the ramp. A ground crew with a wagon or other wheeled device will have a much easier time.
Care should be had at ALL checkpoints. Watch where you lay down to sleep. Make sure you're not in the path of a vehicle. Check around your vehicle before driving away to make sure some paddler didn't imagine it was a Motel 6.
The Lonely River:
If you're doing this race to experience the solitude of you and the river, forget it. 400 boats, if evenly spaced from start to the finish, could play a heck of a game of telephone out there.
If you figure a 50 hour span of finishes from 38 to 88 hours, and figure that about 100 boats won't finish, that's 300 boats landing in St. Charles in 3000 minutes. If I did that math right then a boat will finish every 10 minutes all night and day starting Wednesday night.
Of course, we'll all be a lot closer than that day 1.
The point is that you and your fellow paddlers are going to be in close proximity. So if you have a problem and need help, help is right behind you. Our safety boats are positioned at checkpoints and are also transiting between checkpoints. But your fellow paddlers are EVERYWHERE. Same with ground crews. If you're worried your husband is going to get lost trying to find a checkpoint, forget it. There will be a conga line of cars leaving a checkpoint and heading for the next. So while the checkpoints will be crowded and a bit stressful day 1 and 2, there is safety in numbers as well.
As we've discussed before, ramp etiquette will be important. The ramps have to remain as open as possible. Get creative with using the other shoreline at a checkpoint for resupply where possible. Volunteers at the checkpoint will direct you to places to store your boat for an extended stay.
I would encourage you and your team to read and re-read the previous dispatches. Important things are covered there. Like that PFDs must be worn at all times. That a whistle must be attached to your PFD. (people forget that) Your boat MUST have red/green navigation lights affixed to the bow and a white light on the rear half. All paddlers must carry a cell phone in a waterproof case or bag. Boat numbers (reflective) must be affixed to both sides of the bow and be visible above the waterline.
The list goes on. Time to get your boat and gear in order, for sure.
Don't forget to HAVE FUN!
Remember, this is an adventure that few people ever get a chance at. Even after 9 previous races, there's not that many people that can claim to have done what you're about to do. The things you remember from this race won't be who you beat or who beat you... it will be the un-tellable and indescribable things you learn and see. You'll bore your loved ones for months with stories of things that happened out there and they'll nod and smile. But only you'll know what it meant in that context. Corny as it sounds, it's true. So come at this with the attitude that finishing is the goal but the trip is the real prize. You'll hurt. You'll have moments of hating it. But I bet you have moments you'll savor and revisit in your mind again and again forever.
We will likely have just one more dispatch early next week. Then it's the final countdown. If you're half as excited as we are, you're already a nut case. We'll get through it together! We always do.