Welcome to the Two-Week Dispatch. That means we'll be sitting in the safety meeting in just TWO WEEKS!
It's crunch time.
First order of business,,, we have a very short 4 question form you to complete. This form will ask for your boat type and boat color. Like, kayak/blue or canoe/aluminum That simple.
The purpose is this: We sometimes get calls to our safety boats to find a certain paddler for any number of reasons. So, we go hunting. Everyone has a boat number and we start looking at boat numbers. But to see a boat number we have to get fairly close to every boat. And to get close to a boat we have to slow way down to minimize wake. But if we know that we're looking for a red surfski, we eliminate 98% of the boats and zero in on the first red surfski we see.
We were going to collect this information at the safety meeting. But if you take care of yours now, it will really speed things up. Here's the link. Literally takes 20 seconds to complete. If you're on a multi-person boat, everyone that signed up will get one. That's fine. Everyone can fill it out. It will be fun to see if you all think your boat is the same color.
Here's the form:
Next order of business: Required Gear
You must have the following aboard your boat:
PFD (must be worn at all times)
Whistle (for signalling)
Enough food/water to make next checkpoint
Cell phone in waterproof case and spare charged battery.
Spot Tracker if unsupported
10 feet of rope.
Full navigation lighting.
Reflective tape on your boat. (most production boats have this. More never hurts)
Spare paddle. (multi-person boats need only one per boat)
4 digit boat number in reflective 3" minimum material. (mailbox numbers or motorboat numbers, reflective please) Must appear on both sides of boat.
There are many other items you might need. These are bare minimum for safety.
Next order of business: Schedule of events...
Kaw Point will be staffed with security by 1pm. You can, at your own risk, leave your boat there overnight. There is a trail through the woods to the Point near the boat ramp. Traditionally, they've been left in neat rows along this trail. This saves you time in the morning. Do not leave expensive electronics and paddles there. Just the hulls. Everything else you can rig in the morning. We'll have guys there to watch that they don't leave. No good reason why a boat would leave the area once it's been dropped off. That's the essential duty that they are tasked with. We've never had any problems.
Mandatory sign in/packet pickup. Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, KS
500 paddlers going through this process. Very important that we all don't try to do it at 545pm. If you are staying at the hotel, please try to come down and get it done at 2pm. We'll get the rest as they trickle in. The hotel usually serves a pretty good pasta buffet for racers in the same area as packet pickup so you can come hungry. It's pretty reasonably priced if I remember correctly. This usually starts around 5pm. There's also a restaurant upstairs that's a little fancier and has a bar.
Mandatory safety meeting. Some introductions, some slides, some dos, some don'ts, some questions, some answers. We try to keep it to an hour and we are often done faster than that. I hang around after for some more questions.
Try to sleep.
Stuff starts happening at Kaw Point. There will be news trucks, music blaring, boats being rigged and lots of nervous energy. We have about 206 boats to launch for the solo start at 7am. We will start regardless of how many have actually made it into the water. If you want to be on the water for the gun, you'll have to plan accordingly. Multi person boats may also launch for their 8am start at any time.
All solos start. Multis continue to launch.
All multi boats start.
8am Tuesday - 7pm Friday:
Glory shall be earned.
Awards Ceremony at the finish line. Medals for all finishers. Trophies for 1st-3rd, all divisions.
Other stuff going on:
The finish line area will be hopping starting late Wednesday night when the first boats will land after 38-40 hours. For our finish line hosts, the Lewis and Clark folks, this is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Every racer who finishes gets to eat for free. (entree, two sides and a cold beer or pop) Everyone else makes a donation to their museum and historic boathouse. The meals will start Thursday afternoon, I believe. They encourage everyone to eat their free meal as soon as they can and not wait until just before the awards as they will have trouble meeting demand. The beer will flow all day Thursday and Friday and even during the awards ceremony. This is the first year they've had beer for us.
You'll also note that many other non-profit groups like boy scouts and churches will be offering food and drink at the various checkpoints. We are not directly affiliated with them but we support their effort as it helps the ground crews and paddlers. The food can actually be pretty good and they keep outdoing themselves year after year. Hermann and Miami especially have some pretty elaborate food service going on.
We currently have 385 boats on the roster, down from about 418 or so. This is a typical attrition that occurs every year as folks realize they aren't going to be able to make it to the race. We suspect another 10% or so will not show up and that we'll have around 340-350 boats. Even at those numbers it's significantly larger than any previous MR340. There will be BIG crowds at the checkpoints. Ground crews will end up having to walk a fair distance in some cases to get to the boat ramps. Bring some sort of wheeled cooler or dolly so that you can take what you need from your car to the ramp. Expect big crowds at Lexington, Waverly and Miami. After those 3, we tend to be spread out a bit and things get easier.
We have two methods. Ground crews will be given some simple instructions at the safety meeting on how to text their racers through. Do not stress over this. It's really quite easy and almost fool-proof in that we can give your ground crew feedback via their phone if we have any questions. This should be your primary method for supported racers. Some supported racers have both ground crew and spot trackers. That's awesome. We prefer that your ground crew still text you in at each location as this gives us more exact split times. If they miss one due to getting lost or oversleeping you should text yourself in or get another ground crew to do it. The spot tracker is a last option for supported racers.
Unsupported racers MUST have spot tracker and must successfully register them at www.kattack.com so that we can track you. You must be sure to reboot your Spot at sunrise and sunset to assure it's tracking properly. We also ask that you power up your cell phone at sunrise and sunset to see if we have texted you a message regarding your spot tracker.
Safety boats will be on station at each checkpoint. They will all be flying flags that ID them as such. Don't hesitate to ask them for help if you have any questions about procedures. If they don't know an answer, they will refer you to a race official via telephone.
Good thread on the forum about mistakes racers make:
(short version: get past Waverly night one and Glasgow night two and you will likely finish.)
Thanks, guys and gals. Keep your questions coming and we'll keep answering them.
See you in two weeks!