Dispatch 6 [2013]

Dispatch #6

Loose Ends

Over the next 3 weeks, we'll try to keep you on your toes as you get ready for the big adventure that is the 8th Annual Missouri American Water MR340

If you haven't read the first 5 dispatches, scroll back through and catch up.  Or reread them.  Good stuff even for veterans.  Might shake loose a memory you've suppressed from a miserable night trying to sleep in the mud.  Knowledge is power. 

Tonight's topics. 

Checking In:

Virtual Ground Crew:

First, let's talk check in procedures.  Last year we instituted the text in system and it worked very well.  Far fewer mistakes.  It cuts out 2 middlemen from the info stream and that two chances for a number to get transcribed wrong or not transcribed at all.  Here's how it works.

When you stop at or pass a checkpoint.  (Stopping is not required)  You or your ground crew must text you in.  The number for this year is 816-866-0340  It is NOT the same number as last year so if you've saved it in your phone, delete it. 

The text sent should have this simple format.

Boat number, checkpoint, time(am/pm)


2232 Waverly 615pm

This text is converted into an email and lands in an account to be processed by Barbara and Kate and probably another poor soul who has yet to be volunteered.  They can all be in the account simultaneously and will be opening these emails and inputting them into the database.  As the data is input, it is then live on the web for people to see.  Jeff Ilseman is a paddler who is working on a few surprises on how the system will display data to the public.  Last year was great.  This year will be even better.

This system is great because it creates a history that we can easily access.  All your texts are saved and are easily searchable.  We can also reply to you if needed.  You might turn your phone on and have a text that says, "Please call" etc. 

Because we don't require you to stop, you must be sure your ground crew can see you and KNOW it's you when you pass.  This means you want to be on their side of the river.  You should be able to verbally confirm your identity, even at night.  Or, you must text yourself in.

Make SURE your phone sends before you move on.  If you don't have a signal walk up the hill until you get one.  OR ask another ground crew or safety boat to use their phone.  It is your team's responsibility to get this accomplished.  There were very few issues last year.  Your ground crew can also send the text after you leave once they've driven up from the river and have a signal.  Important thing is that the text goes out.

IF YOU ARE UNSUPPORTED, meaning you have a virtual ground crew at home, you should make contact with them at each checkpoint.  You should have a very similar conversation to what paddlers with ground crews are having.

"I made it to Waverly, feeling good.  Should be in Miami in 5 hours.  Might stop at Hills Island for a nap.  If so, I'll text you and let you know my new arrival in Miami."

Simple information.  Your virtual crew should write this down.  A good idea is to print them a map of the course where they can jot these notes.  It will actually be a pretty cool souvenir for you when you get home.... with all the notes on where you stopped.   And it makes the race more meaningful for them as they watch you matriculate down the river.

Their job after writing this down is to pay attention to the clock.  If 5 hours passes and they haven't heard from you they should call you.  If they can't reach you they should call our safety hotline (913) 709-0759 and let us know they have a tardy paddler.  We will then go find you just to make sure all is well.

By having the virtual crew, you now have the same safety net that the teams with ground crew have.  Someone waiting for you to get to the next checkpoint... and someone who can alert us if you're late.

If you are using a spot tracker for your virtual crew to follow you, that's fine.  A phone call is still a good idea, but if they are vigilantly watching your tracker, they should know where you are and your status. 

Let me know if you have questions about these procedures. 

Here are some questions I've gotten the last few days.

Can I bring a spare boat and switch during the race?

No, you must finish in the boat you start with at Kaw Point.

Can my ground crew hold our double blades when we're using singles on the next leg?

Yes, as long as you have a spare single aboard.

Do we have to wear our PFD full time?

Yes.  Coast Guard Requirement and we fully support that.

If we stop somewhere that is not a checkpoint and rest for an extended period, should we text that into race officials?

Not necessary.  You should text your ground crew and adjust your schedule with them.  They are the best people to inform.  They can contact us if you are ever significantly late and unreachable.

I'm a solo but I want to start with the tandems because my friend is in the tandem flight.

You can, but your clock starts with the solos.  You are surrendering an hour.  Better to start with the solos and let them catch you.

If I miss a cutoff time, can I continue to race?

You are disqualified.  But you are welcome to keep paddling at YOUR OWN RISK.  Our sweep boat and Reaper boat will now be ahead of you.  It's possible you will catch up and pass them if you are faster than the remaining slowest paddler.  If so, there is precedent for allowing you back into the fold... but if at anytime you become the last paddler again, our boats move forward to the next paddler still qualified.

I've informed you I'm not going to be able to race this year.  Why am I still on the roster?

The forum roster is not the official roster.  The official roster gets created at the safety meeting and gets updated again when Lexington closes.  This is how we determine who attended the safety meeting and who started the race.  Typically, 15% of registered racers do not show up.  All who don't show up will be marked DNS. (Did not start)

How will I know a safety boat when I see one?

Besides having ruggedly handsome crews, all Safety Boats fly an official flag.  We will show you this flag at the safety meeting. 

Can my ground crew bring a camper?

Technically, yes.  But there will be crowded checkpoints early in the race that will be difficult to maneuver.  They should plan to park a good distance away in most cases.  Please be considerate of others if you have a noisy generator. 

Does my ground crew have to be at every checkpoint?

No.  For the ones they skip, they become your virtual ground crew.  You should stay in touch electronically.

Please keep sending me your questions or post them here directly.  We're in the homestretch now and the days are ticking by fast.  We will gather at the Hilton Garden Inn before we know it!

It's going to be GREAT!  Enjoy your preparations.  Stay relaxed and positive.  This is supposed to be fun.   

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