Dispatch 5 [2021]

Hello MR340 family!

The days have narrowed to just a few.  Time to pull all those threads together into a rope and start pulling for St. Charles. 

We've addressed so many details in previous dispatches, you should definitely go back through and read them to make sure you've checked your boxes.  I go through both some new and old stuff here, but certainly not everything. 

Also, it's really important that your ground crew also reads these dispatches. There's a lot of stuff in here that is directed to them. They play such an important role in this race and there's a lot for them to know!

You are required to watch it and you're responsible for all the information within.  Here's the link if you've misplaced it.

For "nickname" please put your boat number and last name.  If you're not racing but just curious, you can put "ground crew" or "just curious". 

Thanks again to Chris Luedke for creating this for the second year in a row.  It is very well done and much appreciated!  Thank Chris when you see him out on the river IF you can catch him.

July 19th, Kaw Point Park, noon to 8pm.

If you arrive early, great!  We need help setting everything up! 

Be sure to print and fill out and bring this waiver with you.  Click here -

This is the second year for the outdoor Check-in.  We're hoping to be lucky again with the weather.  We’ll also be joined by several of our sponsors who will have booths with info, equipment, some great raffles and more.

The entire Check-In process, start to finish, should only take you about 10 minutes.  You'll move station to station, get your shirt and you'll finish by performing your first "Check IN" of the race at the RaceOwl table.  So be sure to have your phone there with whatever app you prefer to use.  Here are the two easiest and most used:

  • MR340 CheckPoint Texter (formats texts for perfect check-ins.  Free app)
  • RaceOwl  (formats texts for perfect check-ins AND gives you access to all the race data as the race is happening.  Free app)

Another cool app for the race is MR340 ProPaddler.  This costs a few bucks but includes a map that makes staying in the channel and night paddling a breeze.  It can also be rigged for automatic check in as you pass checkpoints.  But still a good idea to have one of the other apps installed as well as a backup. 

You can practice using these apps now if you have them.  But once you check-in at Kaw Point it will be pretty easy to do it again the next day at Waverly. 

Again, here are the Mandatory Checkpoints and cutoff times -

Kaw Point Park anytime between noon and 8pm, a volunteer will watch you perform your first check in successfully.

Waverly, mile 293.5 (74 miles)  8pm Tuesday.

Glasgow, mile 226 (68 miles) 4pm Wednesday

Jefferson City, mile 144  (82 miles)  4pm Thursday

Hermann, mile 88 (56 miles) 8am Friday
Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 4pm Friday
Finish Line, mile 29 (27 miles) 9pm Friday (volunteers will check everyone in here)

These are the only places you will check-in.  But there are many other access points where you might choose to meet your ground crew or take a break.

What you should do now, is research with your ground crew where these places are so you're both on the same page about what options lie ahead as you're leaving a ramp. 

Before the race you pretty much just need to know where you plan to connect on day 1.  The rest you can figure out later.  But leaving Kaw Point, have a plan where you want to meet day 1.  You'll probably want to meet at least twice between Kaw Point and Glasgow.  So you might choose Lexington and Miami.  Or Napoleon and Waverly.  Or Lexington and Waverly. 

It really depends on your strategy and what portion of that 140 mile trip from Kaw Point to Glasgow you will run in daylight vs. night.  It also depends if your ground crew is physical or virtual.  If you don't have a ground crew meeting you, you'll have to stop for food and drink at ramps that will be selling it. 

Between Kaw Point and Glasgow, these will have food:
Waverly (both ramps)

So plan accordingly.  But with a ground crew, you can take advantage of some of the ramps before Lexington:
La Benite
Cooley Lake
Ft. Osage

Remember that even if you choose not to stop at Waverly, you MUST check in as you pass the ramp there.  You can do it from your boat or your ground crew can do it from shore if they are 100% sure they see you.  This is the same for all checkpoints, all the way to St. Charles.

This will be the biggest 340 ever by about 50 boats.  So Kaw Point will be very crowded.  Last year several people were turned away because the parking was full.  This will probably happen again.  So plan ahead. 

We probably have about 500 parking spaces available total.  That's one per boat!  But it never works out that way.  Some spots go unused due to poor parking.  Some folks have trailers or RVS that take up multiple spaces.  Fire department is there, volunteers are there, sponsors are there, etc.  So some of you won't make the cut.  So think ahead and nobody is unprepared.

First, most folks will leave their boats at Kaw Point during registration.  I'd say about 80% do this.  So there will be close to 400 boats there.  Please don't leave electronics, paddles, etc.  Just the boat.  And this is at your own risk because anything is possible including accidental damage from someone tripping, etc.  But I'm unaware of any past problems.  We will be there all night working and keeping an eye on the place.  And the park closes at 10pm to the public.  So access will be limited.

Second, arrive early.  If you are part of the 7am start, consider arriving at 5am.  You'll likely be assured of a spot and it will be one less thing to worry about. 

Third, be prepared to walk.  Not everyone will get primo parking.  Some of the spots are over a quarter of a mile away from the entrance.  You'll be glad your boat is already in there.  All you need is your paddle and whatever load out you are starting with.  This is where your ground crew collapsible wagon will come in handy.  And your ground crew will be making long walks to boat ramps for day 1 and day 2 until the crowding dies down so this is a good chance to test the walking shoes.

Fourth, please listen and cooperate with our VOLUNTEER parking attendants.  Who have gotten up at 330am to help this event succeed.  If they give you directions, please say "thank you ma'am" and do what she says!

Fifth, no trailers or rvs will be allowed in the park on Tuesday, the morning of the race.  I take that back.  There's room for about 20 trailers or RVs to park in a very few designated spots inside the park.  But once those are full, all trailers and RVs will be parked along the long curb that stretches from the stoplight to the floodwall entrance.  Once this parking is full, trailers and RVs will be looped around and back out to the stoplight.  THEN, you can park anywhere there is legal parking up by the hotel. 

There's a large public lot across from the Hilton Garden Inn at 5th and Minnesota where many of you are staying.  There are also street parking spots along many of the streets in the area.  AND there's a trail that runs from that parking right into the park.  Roughly at 4th and Armstrong is where the trail picks up.  AND there's a small lot at the head of this trail that holds about 20 cars. 

SO if you're dead set on getting a trailer or RV down near the park, you better get there extremely early.  BUT I would avoid bringing that mess into the parking chaos.  Better to park at the hotel lot (across from the hotel) and walk in.

SO you have many, many options for getting your human body and the gear you need down to Kaw Point and onto the water.

If you're staying in the hotel and you're an 8am start, I would seriously consider just walking down.  The 7am crowd will take up most of the room.  Traffic will already be backed up.  You'll be stressed and nervous already and the last thing you want to do is fight traffic and possibly just end up getting looped back to find parking near the hotel. 

But imagine just strolling down the sidewalk, pulling a small wagon with your stuff.  Sipping some hotel coffee.  Your ground crew vehicle safe up in the hotel parking lot.  You stroll in, load your boat, laugh at the stressed out people who are stuck on Fairfax Trafficway waiting in line.  You and your partner pick up your boat and jump in line at the ramp, easy as can be.  Your ground crew can now find a good place to watch the start.  Then leisurely stroll back up the trail.  Heck, you've still got the room until 11am.  They can take a nap before they have to hit the highway and meet you 6-7 hours later. 

AND, even if you aren't staying in the hotel, you can still park in that public lot across the street and enjoy the walk.  It's downhill! It's 15 minutes.  You'll beat all the people driving. 

GOOGLE the intersection of 5th and Armstrong Avenue in Kansas City, KS.  To the west, you'll see the large parking area around the Merc Co-op grocery store.  To the east, at 4th and Armstrong, you'll see the start of the Riverfront Heritage Trail.  You got this.

Is 8pm.  On the dot.  The Reaper will pass the upstream ramp at 8pm precisely.  The crew of the Reaper will have already spoken with every boat that is behind them as they passed them in the previous hours.  They will have warned you that you need to speed up in order to make the cutoff.  They will have slowly faded into the distance.   At first, there was denial.  Then, slowly, acceptance.  You've notified your ground crew that you will unlikely be able to catch back up and beat the Reaper.  The unrelenting, but very slow, Reaper.

Do whatever you can to stay ahead.  It's much easier to stay ahead of the Reaper than it is to catch back up.  Keep your stop short between Kaw Point and Waverly.  Keep in the fast water.  Keep your paddle wet.  You will make it.  This is the hardest one. 

By my calculations, I've been involved in about 50 MR340 "nights" over the years.  For those of you questioning my math, remember, back in the 100 hour days, we had 4 nights out there.

Anyway, 50 nights, give or take.  Of those 50, I'd estimate I dealt with fog maybe a total of 8-10  nights?   So 15-20% of the nights.  And some of those were light and never fully socked in.  And a few were brutally thick and we pulled over for a few hours and waited it out.  Paddling in the fog is very unwise. Our safety boats will not be moving in thick fog. But there might be barges moving or local fishermen checking their trotlines. They will be unable to see you. Even staying within sight of the bank can be dangerous as there can be barges tied up on the bank you cannot see. By the time you see them you are cruising at 6 mph right into their raked bow. If there’s fog, just pull over and take that opportunity to rest.

Similar story with storms.  There have been some humdingers.  But thankfully rare.  The big ones?  I can only think of 4 that I would describe as significant, memorable events.  4 in 15 years.

But we had lots of warning with all 4.  A good hour at least of lightning flashing on the horizon before it hit.  A whole day of weather reports saying that thunderstorms were likely that night.  We knew it was coming and most of us were off the water for it. 

Be weather aware.  Have your ground crew update you on the expected weather.  Ask the safety boats at a ramp if they know the weather for that night.  Always carry enough stuff as you leave a ramp at sunset that you could spend the night out in the wild if you had to because of fog or other weather.  Have the means to start a fire if you're wet and cold and shivering.  Have a rain jacket.  Some dry clothes.  A simple tarp could be the difference between a miserable night and a decent one. 

Required.  Period.  Must be worn as designed.  Inflatables qualify but I've seen them fail to deploy when tested.  Make sure they work and you know how to use them.  Our safety boats are instructed to ask you to put on a PFD if they see you without one and to record the time and your boat number and text it to race officials.  If we see a pattern of more than one instance sent by a safety boat there will be a time penalty imposed on the boat.  If officials deem it was intentional flouting of the rule then a disqualification will be imposed. 

It's part of our Coast Guard permit.  It's part of our insurance requirements.  The ongoing success of the race depends on all of us wearing our PFD.  Thank you for doing it!  If you are wearing a belt or inflatable PFD that our safety boats can’t see, they will likely ask you about it several times. Please be patient and understanding!

The latest food sources:
Waverly (both ramps)
Franklin Island (this access is currently closed to cars due to flood damage but we are hoping it will be open. Updates to follow.)
Cooper's Landing
Jefferson City

This list is important for those without a physical ground crew.  Less so for ground crewed racers.  Please remember, if you run out of liquids between checkpoints you can absolutely flag down a safety boat and borrow from them.  Or, in an emergency, borrow from a fellow paddler. 

1.      Ground Crews – if you are going to Columbia before heading to Cooper’s Landing, there is a road closure at the intersection of Route K and Old Plank Road that will require a detour.

Click here for a PDF that explains the recommended detour.

If you are going straight to Cooper’s Landing from Midway or through Huntsdale or McBaine, there is an easy and obvious detour.

...was destroyed by flooding in 2019.  It is still destroyed.  You cannot get in there by car.  However, there is a boat ramp there.  So, we place a safety boat there on night one to split up the lonely miles between Miami (mm263) and Glasgow (mm226)  Dalton is nestled sweetly in between about mm239.

It is not pretty.  But if you are on that leg in the night and need someplace to exit the river because of fog or weather or you just want to hear a friendly voice, there will be a boat there.  Now, they may get deployed to go help someone and so they might be gone... but they will be there to start the night.  And even if they aren't there, the ramp will be there.  And maybe a few paddlers.  I think last year they had about 5 customers stop and visit.

Especially important from KC to Glasgow when we're pretty clumped up... we have to manage traffic on the ramp.  There is a steady stream of boats trying to land at Waverly, Miami and Glasgow... So be quick to exit your boat and then carry it up the ramp so the next boat can land.  Once you're up and out of the way you can work on your boat, resupply etc. 

Ramps also need to be open for access by local recreational boaters and, most importantly, emergency response teams. We share the river and ramps with lots of other people, many of which consider their local ramp to be their backyard. We can help build goodwill amongst the river community by being respectful and not hogging the ramp. We know…you’re exhausted, you think you’ll only stop for five minutes or whatever… but there’s too many of us to leave boats in the middle of the ramp or blocking the trailer back-in lanes.

This area is unique in that the parking lot is not overlooking the river but is set back a bit.  Please park in the lot and carry what you need to the park.  Cars cannot drive up to the ramp.  The ramp approach is for fishermen to turn around and back down the ramp.  We cannot block this.  Nor can we block with vehicles or canoes, any access by folks trying to launch boats.  This might sound confusing.  Don't worry about it.  It's just a common sense thing once you're out there. Park in marked parking areas or along the road on the way in leaving space for passing.  Don't clog roads that lead to the ramp.  Walk from marked parking spots.

You'll receive medals or trophies from volunteers as you land.  There will be beer, margaritas and food for sale as a fundraiser on Thursday AND Friday. There will be a celebration concert on Friday evening with live music and a recognition of all trophy winners during the concert.  If you can stay for that, great!  If you have to get back home we understand.  But it will be a blast.  Special thanks to Terrain Magazine, Big Muddy Adventures, Schlafly Brewing and The Lewis and Clark Boathouse for throwing this bash.

Friday's festivities will start at 6pm and go until 9pm. Trophy recognitions will start at 7 pm.

We have two webinars coming up with some last-minute details:

Safety Webinar with Scott Mansker and Steve Schnarr, Monday July 12 at 6:30 pm (CST) – This is not a substitute for the MANDATORY safety video linked above. Register on Zoom here -

Raceowl Webinar with Jon Marble, Wednesday, July 14 at 6:30 pm (CST) – Find out how to use the RaceOwl app and website to track racers and more. Register on Zoom here -

And you can watch all the previous webinars here (and find links for streaming live on YouTube) -

Let us know what questions you have as we approach!  See everyone soon!

Scott Mansker, Race Director

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