Dispatch 6 [2017]

07/25/17 AT 14:24:38

The TWO WEEK Countdown.

So here we are, two weeks to go.  Is your mind racing with a million details?  Are you having race dreams like you're at Kaw Point but you can't find your paddle?  Are you sweating in the heat walking from your car into work and wondering how you'll ever survive paddling in triple digits?

Breathe, relax... everything will work out.  The 340 has been started and finished by thousands before you.  You've got a capable mind and body and you'll be surrounded by others with the same genetic disposition for taking on adventure and wondering what's around the bend.  Yes, we will all suffer.  But we will make it through whatever that week holds for us. 

That said, we still gotta get ready!

Let's get through some details.  Most of you are on top of this.  But too many of you are still struggling with some roster stuff and it's driving our staff crazy.

This is the roster:

On most browsers, you can hit Control F to find your name.  Please check to make sure that there is a boat number listed.  Many of you still owe us a valid boat number.

Reminder that these boat numbers need to be placed, by you, on both sides of your bow.  Reflective numbers appreciated.  Your boat MUST have some sort of reflective surface (tape or decals) visible from any angle.  In other words, a fishing boat or a safety boat needs to be able to spot you.  Our boats moving at night scan shoreline for boats pulled off the river for any reason.  We can't see your boat unless there is reflective material on it. 

Bonus hint.  Some reflective tape around the shaft of your paddle might be the difference between you finding a dropped paddle on the river and NOT finding a dropped paddle on the river. 

Please check that your partner or partners are signed up.  As of this dispatch, there are 35 partners missing.  We are flat running out of time. 


Monday, August 7th

Hilton Garden Inn, Kansas City, KS.  520 Minnesota Ave

Check in 2pm to 6pm.  (Arrive early if possible)  Safety meeting 7pm to 8pm.

Food and limited seating available in the hotel restaurant before and after meeting.  As of right now, no food service in the ballrooms.  Will update if changes.  Lots of places to eat near hotel. 

Security for boats available at Kaw Point Park starting at noon Monday.  Please don't leave your gear. 

There is a lot of parking but we have to be efficient about it and keep pathways for emergency vehicles.  We will have parking attendants wearing yellow vests starting at 5am.  They will manage filling every spot inside the park.  Then, they will stop allowing cars inside.  AT this point, there are designated parking areas outside the floodwall that will require 100 yards+ of walking, depending on where you end up.  This will be good practice for the checkpoints you hit all week.

Please do not grumble at our parking crew.  They are performing a very advanced game of Tetris trying to get you all situated.  Hopefully, you've just got some paddles and pfds to carry to your boat which is already in the park.  We will show some parking schematics at the safety meeting.

Mandatory Checkpoints and Cutoff Times:

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, August 8th.   

Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 5pm Tuesday   Leg avg.  5.56mph  Total avg. 5.56   

Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75mph  Total avg. 5.62   

Glasgow, mile 226, (68 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15   

Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (82 miles) 7pm Thurs.  5.14mph  Total avg. 3.78    

Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 10am Friday  3.07mph  Total avg. 3.64   

Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 6pm Friday  5.25 mph  Total avg. 3.79   

St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  Midnight   4.50mph  Total avg. 3.85 mph

This reflects the newly updated checkpoints.  These are the only places you have to text in.  Except the finish line... we will record that time.  As described in previous dispatches, there are many, many boat ramps not listed here where you can meet ground crew.  Also, Miami Access will have an enormous food spread put on by the town.  Franklin Island Access (Boonville) will have some resources available for unsupported racers.  Cooper's Landing (a privately owned establishment) will be open all night with food and resources.  These are not required stops.  These are options for you to meet ground crew.  Along with the many other ramps along the Missouri River, too many to name here.  That's where strategy comes in.


With the removal of two cutoffs at Miami and Katfish, we suspect that some will struggle with the extra rope they are given.  Be aware that the Reaper boat will be keeping all her appointments.  So, if the Reaper beats you to Miami, even though you are not DQ'd there, it's a telltale sign that your race is in some jeopardy.  If the Reaper beats you to Glasgow, you are OUT.  Or to any mandatory checkpoint for that matter. 

The Reaper will be hard to miss this year.  It has a giant sea monster on both sides.  It has red eyes on the front windows.  And when it's on the Reaper pace, it will be flying a large black flag.  It creeps along at about 5.5 mph most of the time.  If she passes you, it doesn't mean you are out.  You can pass her right back.  But if she beats you to one of the mandatory checkpoints, you are absolutely out. 

Remember when calculating split times on the above list of cutoffs, solos actually get an extra hour with their earlier start at Kaw Point.  So if you're a solo sweating these cutoff times, do the math with the extra hour and you'll see it's not quite as bad for you.  Day 1 cutoff times are the hardest.  After that, most paddlers start building up some buffer time. 

Please get this free app for you and your ground crew.  It will walk you through texting in at each checkpoint.  It also has a button for DNF (did not finish)  If you quit the race, it is required that you text us a DNF message.  This prevents us from trying to find you!

Some people will check in at the hotel Monday night, then not start in the morning.  IF this ends up being you, you have to text us a DNF message either via regular text or via the app.

RaceOwl is a great website and is a good way for your friends and family to follow your race from home.  All the texts we receive get entered into raceowl and will show approximately what place you're in, etc.  These are not official results until the finish is recorded in St. Charles, but it's a fun way to follow the race.  RaceOwl also has some apps that will do some tracking for you as does the MR340 ProPaddler app.  If you're interested, you should check out the website and the ProPaddler app.

Yellow Vests and Flags

Our safety boats all fly yellow flags with the skull and paddles logo to identify them as part of the safety team.  Our volunteers at checkpoints are typically wearing yellow mesh vests, especially at Lexington and Waverly day 1.  We are there to help and answer questions.  If you or your crew are having trouble texting in, we can show you how.  Just flag us down.  Safety boats are usually docked at each checkpoint unless they are out on a call.  They are happy to help as well. 

Boat Color and Ground Crew Contact Info

When you registered for the race you entered a ground crew name and phone number.  ALL PADDLERS MUST HAVE A GROUND CREW either virtual or physical who is ultimately responsible for knowing your whereabouts.  We reserve the right to call these phone numbers at any time during the race to verify that your ground crew contact has spoken to you via voice or text and knows your general location along the race course. 

If your contact name and number has changed since you registered, please send that updated information to asap so we can correct it.  This will save you time at sign in.

We also collected a boat color when you entered.  This is the dominant color of the topside of your boat.  If you've changed boat color since entry, please send that as well. 


Something like 97% of all drowning victims are NOT wearing a PFD.  It's the simplest thing you can do to prevent a tragedy while paddling.  We require everyone to wear a PFD at all times.  Many of you are choosing to wear belt or suspender style inflatables.  Please make sure you have a backup pfd in case this one discharges and is no longer practical to use.  Also, it's a good idea to have a standard PFD available with ground crew for use at night or in inclement weather scenarios.  Also, if one style chafes you raw you can switch to the other. 


Speaking of chafing, you will be chafing.  In weird places.  This can mitigated with a variety of products that will keep you slippery.  Just google anti chafe or sports lube and get all kinds of ideas.  Cotton shirts are tough on guys especially.  The cotton gets wet and basically becomes sandpaper on a part of your body most guys never think about.  Yep, the male nipple.  You will see men with band aids over their nipples and under their shirts at Kaw Point.  You can laugh but you'll know why by sunset that day.  Use of lube or bandaids or tape or a silky soft shirt can help prevent this. 

Just about anywhere on your body can have an issue.  Pay attention to "hot spots" that you will start feeling early on.  Better to deal with it early by adjusting the garments or taping the area then to wait until there is bleeding. 

Your hands will be pretty beat up.  Same thing there.  Pay attention to where you start feeling issues.  Adjust or change your grip periodically to spread the burden to as much skin as you can.  Use duct tape or other means to mitigate as the race moves along.


We are hoping this will be a great year for sandbars with the river at a more normal summertime flow.  There is nothing better than spotting a sandbar and night and catching a power nap or even a power bath.  Or, during the day, pulling over and sitting shoulder deep in the water on a sandbar and cooling down.   A couple thoughts.  Just because it's a sandbar doesn't mean you can't get in trouble as a swimmer.  Your body will be very taxed and a cramp could happen any time.  Imagine trying to swim with two leg cramps.  Or a back cramp.  Or your abs cramp up.  Keep the pfd on.  You may think the water is just knee deep but one more step may be over your head and your swimming.  If sleeping, be sure your boat is pulled up enough to prevent a rise in the river or a sudden wind from scooting it off the island and downstream. 


Your relationship with sleep will be forever changed by this experience.  You're definition of "tired" will never be the same.  You must be cognizant of your safety relative to your sharpness of mind and decision making. 

Everyone is different.  But we can share with you what we've seen in 11 previous years of this race.

Nobody has much success sleeping at Waverly.  The cutoff time is 9pm so you're leaving a lot of really good quality paddling time on the table by stopping there and trying to sleep.  There are trains running through the park every 30 minutes.  There are cars and people and noise.  We have discouraged people from stopping here.  They almost never make it to the next checkpoint on time.  The race leaves them behind by 20 miles and they never catch up to the pack again. 

What we hear from paddlers is that it is far better to push on to Hills Island or Miami or Glasgow.  Stopping at one of these spots means you've made a bunch of miles while the sun is down and the heat is dialed way back.  When you finally decide to stop at midnight, or 2am or 8am, you are actually tired enough to fall asleep.   And you fall immediately to sleep.  No tossing and turning.  And it's the deepest most restful sleep you can imagine.  Because your brain is ready for it.  You close your eyes and the dreams start right away. 

The worst heat of the day will be from about 1pm to 5pm.  This is a great time to pull off at a ramp and sleep in your ground crew vehicle.  If you've paddled all night and through the morning, you've avoided the worst heat and you've built up a huge lead over the Reaper.  You'll never see it again.  Now you've earned real, deep sleep.  Wake up at 5pm, have some dinner and hit the water for another beautiful night. 

Again, every team is different and will have a different approach to when it's time to take breaks.  This is just anecdotal evidence from veteran paddlers.  There's the camp that always goes for Miami.  And the camp that always goes for Glasgow.  Stopping in Waverly for sleep is a pretty bad sign at 9pm.  Make Hills Island your goal at minimum.  Even the 9pm Waverly crowd gets there by 11pm or midnight.  It's pretty quiet.  Sandy beach.  There will probably be 15-20 boats there at midnight when the last one arrives.  They start leaving about 3am, a couple at a time and they are all gone by 6am when the Reaper leaves. 

Obviously, weather is the big boss.  If there's a thunderstorm at Waverly at 9pm, a whole bunch of canoes will be stuck there.  We take what nature gives us and we make it work.  But that's all the more reason why if nature is giving you a beautiful night and a fat moon, you should proceed as the way opens and take advantage of it while you can.  Ask any veteran, they look forward to the sun going down.  Best paddling hours in my informal survey.

8am-10am  Feeling good.  Not too hot.
11am to 1pm.  Starting to get hot.  Looking forward to the next ramp.

1pm to 5pm.  What is this hell planet we are trying to live on.
6pm to 8pm.  Earth isn't such a bad planet after all.
9pm to 10pm.  Sun goes down.  Sky is a picture.
11pm to 2am.  The giggle hours.  Everything is funny.
3am to 5am.  We want a sunrise.  Where is the sun?  Singing to stay awake.
5am-7am Inspiring sunrise.  Beautiful water.  You realize you have a pretty great life.

So you see, 20 great hours of paddling and only 4 horrifying ones.  Plan accordingly. 

We will be in touch again with at least one final dispatch next week.  Keep your fingers crossed with us for continued good weather and long range forecasts.  Let us know if you have additional questions.


PS:  Chris Luedke has added some more great videos to his rock star 340Paddler channel on YouTube.  Check them out here:

If you haven't spent time on this channel, dig in.  Tons of great information and photos.  Thanks, Chris!

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