Dispatch 7 [2016]

07/04/16 AT 21:55:47

Two Weeks...

The rainstorm that swamped the entire lower Missouri valley raised some gauges as much as 9 feet.  But thanks to a very dry June we were well positioned to absorb this heavy rain and no gauges went to flood stage along our race course.  As of this post, the gauges from KC to Jeff City have crested and the rest should crest by Wednesday...if there is no more rain.  There is rain in the forecast most of this week but here's hoping it's not significant.  The ground absorbed much of the 3-5 inches we got over the weekend... but it's now saturated and the runoff from here on out will be more substantial.  But all in all, we came out pretty good with two weeks to go. 

Required Gear

Here are the things you must have aboard your person or boat the entire race.

1. PFD, worn full time.
2. spare paddle (recommended for solos, no longer required)
3. space blanket aka foil blanket
4. matches or lighter
5. whistle attached to PFD
6. enough water to reach next checkpoint
7. cell phone in a waterproof setup (a means of charging the phone is recommended)
8. 10 feet of rope for towing or lashing boat to trees or rocks in weather
9. navigation lights
10. strong flashlight for signaling or spotting obstacles
11. reflective numbers on both sides of your bow
12. safety card (provided at registration table printed on waterproof paper)

The safety card will show you samples of how to text in at a checkpoint.  It will also have the safety dispatch number if you need a safety boat to come pick you up or render some sort of assistance. 

This is a minimum list.  Your boat may require more.

Checking In At Checkpoints

There have been a lot of questions about this sent my way so I wanted to do my best to clear things up. 

You must check in at each checkpoint.  This is done via text message to a system that then enters the data into  RaceOwl allows your friends and family to watch your progress.  But its main purpose is to let us know who has checked in and who has not. 

So, in the simplest form, at each checkpoint, either on shore or while moving past, you or your ground crew must send a text to 816-340-6395

The text should be in this format.

boat number checkpoint day of the week time in or time out


9223 Lexington Tuesday 430pm in

4344 Waverly Tuesday 730pm in and out

5653 Miami Wednesday 310am in

followed later by...

5653 Miami Wednesday 400am out

So, you can do an individual text for in or out.  OR you can do both in and out in the same text. 

There are apps that will make this much simpler like the Jon Marble app "MR340 Checkpoint Texter" which you just enter your boat number and choose a checkpoint and hit send.   Also, the new RaceOwl app will do this as well.  Either one works.  So does your regular phone texting.   

You can test this now on your phone and it's not a bad idea to send a few practice texts to the phone number above.  That way, you've started the text thread on your phone and so the format will be there for you to copy when the real thing comes along. 

If you have a ground crew there to check you in and out, make sure they understand how to do it.  Practice with them once or twice. 

Here's what you send if you're pulling out of the race.

5445 Miami Wednesday 5am DNF

(Did Not Finish)

It helps us if you use DNF.  Just typing OUT can be confusing.

Here's another we see often.

5445 Miami Wednesday 5am we are pulling out of the race

That works too. 

Raceowl automatically processes a typical, properly formatted text with no human help.  But anything outside that format is read by a human volunteer.  And they can also reply.  So if you sent a text like this...

5445 Wednesday 4pm in and out

You'll eventually get the reply,

What checkpoint please?

Because they are swamped with processing texts, especially early in the race, it might be a couple hours before they send that.  Just amend your answer as soon as you can.

So there is a human at the other end of the line and it's really as simple as you letting another person know that you are ok and what time you got there and what time you left.  Kinda like your mom.

Virtual Ground Crew

Have received a few questions about this so wanted to clarify.  EVERYONE must have a ground crew.  Most will have a physically present ground crew.  If you lack this, please arrange a virtual ground crew who is back home in the air conditioning but is willing to keep their phone on full time and pay attention that you are where you are supposed to be. 

Just like if you were going on a long paddle, you'd smartly let someone know your plan and when you intend to be home... same thing here... you're filing a "float plan" with your virtual ground crew and telling them "We will text you from Lexington by 3pm."  " We will be in Jeff City by midnight and will text"  etc, etc, etc.  All they have to do is make sure they hear from you when you say.  And they should have our safety boat dispatch number in case you are significantly late making contact with them.

That number is 913-709-0759.
It will be monitored for the entire 88 hours of the race, around the clock.  It will be printed on your safety card you receive at registration. 

River Levels

We use a bunch of resources to track precip, weather and river levels.  Steve Schnarr of Missouri River Relief compiled the key gauges at this link for you.

Now you can follow along as we get the next two weeks worth of (hopefully small) rainfall amounts as they gauges go up and down.  We need the checkpoint gauges to be below flood stage for the race to go as scheduled.

So far we are looking ok to go.


If there is lightning the morning of the start, the race is delayed until the lightning threat is abated.  This has happened one time in the previous 10 races.  We were delayed 90 minutes.  Checkpoint times were adjusted 90 minutes for day 1.  60 minutes for day 2, 30 minutes for day 3 and back on schedule for day 4.  A similar formula will be used to get the race back on track from a delay.  30 minutes will be taken back each day (after day 1) until we are back on schedule or as close as possible. 

Katfish Katy's

This was mentioned in a previous Dispatch but I want to be sure and revisit this.  Katfish Katy's was sold over the winter and the new owners are changing it in a big way.  It is no longer a campground and is currently under major construction.  We are renting the grounds for the period of time that the checkpoint is open.  Tim Murray is back as your checkpoint host and will assist.  There will be portable toilets brought in but the showers and other bathrooms are NOT in service anymore.  There is one spigot functioning on the property but it is far from the ramp.  Tim will keep some 5 gallon jugs filled near the ramp but may need help with this from any ground crews willing to pitch in. 

We will have a food truck there serving BBQ.  He will also have some drinks for sale. 

For the 2017 340, Katfish Katy's will have much more to offer.  But this year it's going to be sparse.  Cooper's Landing is another few miles downstream and will also be open.  Cooper's used to be the checkpoint and was fantastic until we outgrew his parking.  We are also working on figuring out parking at Cooper's for future race years.  But Cooper's is open for business and happy to serve racers and ground crews.

I think that sums things up for this Dispatch.  We will send another on Monday with just ONE week to go. 


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