Dispatch 5 [2019]

River Update:

Flows have been reduced on the Osage River down from 50,000 CFS to 35,000, helping to lower water downstream of Jefferson City. 

Kansas River continues to be the wild card.  Lakes that feed the Kaw are still very high but have reached "Phase 1" levels down from Phase 2.  This means that proscribed flows at Waverly are supposed to be held at 90,000.  But that is impossible with the mainstem lakes on the Missouri releasing 70,000.  So it's likely that the Kansas City District will receive an approval to a deviation request from the Omaha office that will allow them to exceed 90,000 at Waverly.  It could be 110,000 or 130,000 or 150,000.  At the worst this summer they had a deviation for 180,000 at Waverly. 

We are hoping for something 130,000 or lower.  Something under 22 feet at Waverly.  Along with predicted friendly weather.  We have a shot at this.  Waverly is at 22.7 feet as a type this.  So needs to fall about a foot and is predicted to do so. 

FOOD at Checkpoints:

The reschedule caused some problems for some food vendors.  Here's what we know so far about food availability. 

Lexington:  Pending.  Hoping for the Lexington Boy Scouts.  They had a meeting about it Thursday.  Waiting to hear what they decided.

Waverly:  Waverly boy scouts will definitely be serving food at the upper ramp.  They are hoping they have enough people to also serve food at the downstream ramp.  It looks like they will.  They do a great job. 

Miami:  100% in on the usual Miami fare we've grown to love over the years. 

Glasgow: Suzie Murdock is back with her Fresh On The Go food truck.

Franklin Island: Trevor Tilton Insurance is sponsoring this paddle stop and providing free hot dogs to paddlers. 

Cooper's Landing:  Cooper's is back after the flood.  I'm told there will likely be a Mexican food truck there this year.  Certainly the store will be open with some limited food as well. 

Jefferson City:  This checkpoint was heavily damaged by the flood but is now slowly getting back in shape.  Food is pending. We are waiting to hear on a couple of possibilities. 

Hermann:  The amazing Hermann boy scouts will be back this year with their food tent.  Serving around the clock.

New Haven:    This is a new Paddle Stop on the list.  We are unsure of the scope of hospitality but we think this will become a new tradition for racers. 

Klondike:  There will be limited grab and go snack type food.  Donation jar.  You're almost done at Klondike.  So grab a granola bar and refill your jug and go finish this thing!

St. Charles:  Our partners at the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Museum are selling food at the finish line like they do every year!

We hope you'll patronize these wonderful folks at the checkpoints.  They go to a ton of trouble and it's their biggest fundraiser of the year for many of these groups.  If you're an unsupported paddler, it's crucial to your race to have food and water at these spots.  So bring some cash.  It's very convenient for ground crews as well while the wait for their racers. 

The Reaper:

The Reaper is one of our safety boats.  But she plays a dual role as the pace boat as well.  The Reaper will set out from Kaw Point after you guys take off.  Her crew has a detailed chart showing the exact time she should pass each mile marker on her way to St. Charles in order to finish exactly at the cutoff time.  So the Reaper goes nice and slow. 

She hits each checkpoint at EXACTLY the time that checkpoint closes.  If the Reaper beats you to a checkpoint, you are OUT of the race. 

So, if on day 1 you are paddling along and you hear something behind you, take a peek.  It could be the Reaper.  If it starts to pass you, the crew will probably say check in with you, making sure you realize what is slowly happening to you.  Encouraging you to speed up... But if the Reaper gets too far ahead and you don't think you're gong to catch her, it's time to start accepting that this isn't your year... and that the next checkpoint will be your last. 

We do give the Reaper a short break at each checkpoint.  For example, it will arrive at Lexington at exactly 5pm, tie up, crew will exit, get some food, sit and eat, etc.  As a paddler there, you might get lulled into a sense of security.  The Reaper isn't moving, so I am safe and can rest.  Wrong.  Because when the crew gets back on their boat at 530pm, They are going to catch back up to the 9pm Waverly pace quickly and then settle back in to their slow crawl.  Leaving you well behind with lots of hard work to pass them before Waverly. 

So keep a good lead on the Reaper.  Hope you never see her. 

In a typical year, by day 2, the Reaper has reaped all her victims and so rather than leaver her 20 miles behind the pack, we instead turn her into a traditional safety boat and station her among the paddlers somewhere.  To avoid confusion, we have a large black flag on the Reaper that, when hoisted high (about 10 feet above the boat) means she's in Reaping Mode.  But when the flag is down, she's just a normal boat and you should have no fear if she passes you. 

The Reaper is pretty unmistakable with large, glowing eyes on the front of the boat and a sea monster painted on both sides.  You'll know if the Reaper has passed you.  Mostly because the crew will talk trash. 

Barge Escort:

Sometimes it works out that a safety boat can jump in front of a barge that is moving through the pack and tell paddlers which side of the river to move to.  We can't do this with every barge so you'll need to know what to do in all situations, but if we can spare the boat, an escort is possible.  This boat would stay a mile or so ahead of the barge and intercept each paddler to let them know the barge is coming and which side he'd like you to be on as he passes.  Please comply with this. 

This crew has a tough job as escort and it's typically a 3 person team so that one can be resting in rotation.  Their boat will be moving night and day as the barge moves.  Super important to make sure you've got nice, bright, functioning navigation lights so that both the safety boat and barge know where you are and which direction you are heading. 

Sunrise, Sunset:

Day 1 of the race, the sun will rise at 655am.  It will set at about 740pm.  This is about an hour less light at both ends of the day.  So two hours total.  It will be full dark when most of you arrive at Kaw Point for the 8am start.  It will just be getting light by 645am.  But we still need folks to start launching their boats in order to have an 8am start with everyone on the water. 

River will be dark by 8pm or so each night.  Plan accordingly your meetings with ground crew for anything you'll need after dark. 

With cooler temperatures could come fog.  Please, please please, don't be a fool and paddle into fog.  It's probably the most dangerous thing you can do.  Unless you have radar aboard your boat (there is NOT an app for that) you should not be out there.  Too many bad things can happen with a parked barge, sand dredge, buoys, bridges, etc.  NOT worth it. 

If you're paddling and you begin to see wisps of fog on the water, start paying attention.  If the wisps are blowing across the face of the water, that's a good sign.  The wind may keep the fog from building.  But if the fog is just sitting there you've got some trouble coming soon.  That will keep piling up and pretty soon be over your head and you won't see anything.  BEFORE it gets to a point of zero visibility, get yourself to a safe landing spot on shore.  It's probably 3am.  You've got 3-4 hours before the fog is going to burn off.  Make the best of that time.  You'll be tired.  Get your mylar blanket and roll up in it like a baked potato.  Use your PFD as a pillow.  Text your ground crew and let them know you pulled over and so will be later than you thought to the next checkpont.  Tell them to take a nap.  And then YOU take a nap.  When the fog clears you'll have a newly restored body ready to paddle harder and faster. 

Had you gone on into the fog, you would have been miserable.  Terrified, not knowing which way was upstream or down.  Panicking at every sound of water.. just drifting in the current, not making good speed, paddling in figure 8s but not knowing you were doing it.  Do everyone a favor and pull off the river and rest.  It will pay dividends later in your race. 

Keep the Faith!

In a year with the 3rd most runoff in recorded history, we have a SHOT at getting this race in. That's a miracle.  We just need some dry weather and some luck from the Corps and we can do this.  So keep preparing and checking things off your list.  Let's hope we're all together September 9th at the safety meeting with a dry forecast and some beautiful days and nights ahead. 


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