This is the first email dispatch in a series that you will receive leading up to the 18th Annual Missouri American Water MR340. We are thrilled to have you join us and accept the challenge of this great race. If you’re new this year, as half of the racers are, we think you’ll find the MR340 to be an amazing experience and one of the best times of your life. There likely will be some less-best times involved, but hey, that’s what it takes to get to the finish line in Saint Charles, right? Seriously though, we can’t wait to see you in about 4 months!
Consider this first dispatch as a kick-off to your own planning and strategizing because, in some ways, this is the very start of your race. It is really important that you read all of these dispatches sent to you, visit all the links provided, poke around on our www.mr340.org website, and share all info with your Ground Crew. Knowledge is power, and that knowledge combined with your planning will determine a large portion of your success.
As a reminder, MR340 race dates this year are August 1st-4th, 2023 with mandatory Check-In at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, KS on July 31st between noon at 8:00 p.m.
Missouri River Relief
The MR340 is Missouri River Relief’s biggest fundraising event of the year. We are so excited to bring you this event as part of our portfolio of river activities which include cleanups, education programs, and paddling races on the beautiful Missouri River. In addition to the MR340, we’d love to have you join us at any of our other upcoming events. Learn more about our mission and the ways we connect people to the Missouri River at www.riverrelief.org.
You and Your Boat
Double-check the Roster! If you don’t have a boat number listed it simply means your number selection was already taken when you registered. To select a unique number, use Ctrl-F to search on the roster page for a number not already in use. Email email@example.com to update. Or just let me know if you want me to pick one for you – happy to do that. If you see a “TBD” listed in your boat on the roster, it means you have a partner who hasn’t registered. Send them to the registration page and have them include the same boat number and team name as they sign up so we can match them up with you.
Reflective Boat Numbers Your 3" tall and official 4-digit boat number should be reflective and affixed to both sides of your bow above the water line. These help us see and identify you, especially at night. Each team may choose their own 4-digit number upon entry on a first-come, first-served basis. Race numbers are to be affixed by the racers themselves, prior to the start of the race. Numbers should be a color that is high contrast against the background and reflective. Mailbox numbers from the hardware store work great!Rules
Have you read through all of the MR340 rules? Be sure to check those out, and if you are a returning racer, please pay special attention to Rule #32 which was updated for the 2023 race. Discuss these rules with your Ground Crew as some pertain to their involvement.
Every boat must have a Ground Crew. Your Ground Crew may be an In-Person Ground Crew (highly recommended) or a Virtual Ground Crew. In-Person Ground Crews can make a big difference between someone finishing the race or not.
Please read up on the Ground Crew Requirements and what the expectations are for In-Person and Virtual Ground Crews.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid crew. A strong Ground Crew will be involved in your pre-race planning, able to physically assist you at your ramp stops, have studied the route along the course, be able to track you on RaceOwl to not only know where you are at any given time but also anticipate your arrivals, and will be aware of your potentially unique health concerns.
Ground Crews act as the extra set of eyes and ears to monitor you throughout the race. Racers can get pretty loopy along the 340 miles of paddling, but a Ground Crew who knows you well will be able to determine if that’s just the river miles talking or if you’re on the cusp of a health issue. You and your Ground Crew know you best. And they can do so much more for you to help get you through this race – not just the precious cold Mountain Dew hand-offs, but their on-land strategizing can result in you getting closer to Saint Charles even faster.
If your Ground Crew has an opportunity to help another racer, another Ground Crew, or a ramp volunteer, we appreciate them giving a hand where help is needed. The MR340 includes a lot of congestion at certain Checkpoints and Paddlestops, so efficiency at ramps and some extra muscle sure helps matters! We have an amazing race community and we’re hope your crew is looking forward to their own MR340 big and muddy experience along the way.
Required and Recommended Gear
We have a full list of required and recommended gear. Some edits to this list for the 2023 race have been made, so be sure to know what all you need well in advance of the race. Also think about how you plan to secure your gear during the race. And what happens if you flip? What could you lose in the dark? Can you get back in your boat? What’s your plan?
Some of our awesome race sponsors can supply gear to you, so go visit the Sponsors page and click on a sponsor to visit their site. Shopping with MR340 sponsors is a wonderful way to show appreciation of their race support! They are all MR340 fans, so you’ll be in great company.
Checkpoint vs Paddlestop
Firstly, you are not required to stop anywhere. This is why the MR340 is the world's longest non-stop river race. This leaves some strategy opportunities wide open, and I hope you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.
You are only required to check in and out at Checkpoints, and that process is completed with the RaceOwl system. There will be new RaceOwl updates coming for 2023, and we will cover those details in a later dispatch.
Paddlestops are places where we will have a volunteer and safety boat presence. And sometimes a food vendor available.
Checkpoints and Cutoff Times
Checkpoints and Cutoff Times have not changed from last year. You’ll want to share the list with your Ground Crew– you’re going to hear that a lot. Let’s just have you go ahead and start making a handy binder of info for your crew – very official. Plus, they are going to get hungry out there and will want to know where they can snag a hot dog. (Food Along the Course will be discussed in a later dispatch.)
Race Course Map
The Race Course Map is handy to keep in your boat and for your Ground Crew to refer to. One side even includes moonrise times. If you want to dig in deep to all available ramps along the course, we’ve got that information on the Ramps page.
You could find yourself in a situation where you need to make an unplanned stop at a ramp where your Ground Crew isn’t present. Maybe you had a boat malfunction. Maybe you are seeking shelter from an upcoming storm. Having an idea of possible stops and being flexible in these scenarios is important. If your crew has all of the boat ramp options at hand, it will increase the chances of them being able to adjust their route quickly and meet you in person where you have landed.
The Reaper is one of our safety boats. But she has a specialized mission and that's to run at exactly the pace that a paddler would need to run to BARELY make the cutoff times at each Checkpoint. So the Reaper is a visual on the water of where the cutoff line is at it approaches a checkpoint.
If the Reaper beats you to Waverly, you are out. If it beats you to any checkpoint, you are out. IF it passes you before a checkpoint but then you pass it back, you're fine. All that matters is that you beat her to the Checkpoint.
Get Out and Practice
There are some early season races in the Missouri area that can give you an opportunity to test your boat and gear. These events also provide a way to converse in person with other potential MR340 racers. Visit our River Race Calendar for more info. These races begin in the next week or so, and one might be near you.
MR340 Facebook Group
This group is 11,000 strong and is a great community of racers, crews, and paddlers who share news about training runs on the river, gear and boats for sale, Ground Crew information, shuttle opportunities, etc. Ask a question and you’ll get a variety of advice really fast. It’s also where some of our sponsors can share info on sales and promotions. There is a search option too, in case you want to see if someone else has asked the same question before you and what the responses were. This group is chatting about MR340-related topics year-round, so jump in any time!
Need some merch?
If you haven’t browsed the MR340 website before now, it’s a great time to start visiting all the pages and read up on all the things. We have the 2022 MR340 documentary by KMBC posted commercial-free, and that is sure to get you in the MR340 mood.
If you can’t find an answer on our website to a race question you might have, send me an email.
More to come!
Your Race Manager,