These Rules are NOT ordered by importance. Some of the most important Safety Rules are last.
Rules Updated 12/1/22
- We cannot hold the race if the river is in Flood Stage. Sometimes, the river can touch Flood Stage for a day or two and then drop quickly. For this reason, we are building in a window of days for the race to be held all within the week of July 23 (Tuesday through Sunday). You are signing up for a race which will take place in a 4-day window within that 7-day week unless there are circumstances like described below.
Plan A for the race is July 23-26, Tuesday through Friday. If river conditions call for a delay, Plan B is for us to race July 24-26 (Wednesday to Saturday). Plan C is July 25-27 (Thursday to Sunday). No vouchers are offered for these delayed start options.
If the race cannot be held safely on those dates, a similar schedule will be held the week of August 20-23 (pre-race check-in August 19). Please arrange your schedule accordingly. There are no vouchers or refunds for your entry even if the race cannot be held on those dates.
- All Racers must attend the mandatory pre-race check-in on July 22. This is considered the First Checkpoint of the race. Check-in is from noon to 8pm at Kaw Point Park.
- Racers are required to watch the Safety Meeting Video before the race. All registrants will be notified of any changes as early as possible.
- The Missouri American Water MR340 will officially start at 7am for solo boats and 8am for all other boats on July 23, 2024. The starting point is Kaw Point Park, Mile 367.5 in Kansas City, KS. If weather or other circumstances force a delay, boats may start all together.
- The race will officially end at exactly 9pm of July 26, 2024 (86 hours for solos, 85 hours for all others) or when the last boat has reached the designated finish line ~340 miles downstream, whichever comes earlier. Racer participation in this event ends when they have reached the designated finish line before 9pm of July 26, 2024 or when they notify race headquarters that they have withdrawn. Racers still on the Missouri River after 9pm of July 26 are electing to continue independently of the race.
- Racers are responsible for reading all information disseminated in the Race Dispatches which will be published and distributed over several months before the race begins. Racers must read the contents of the Resources page on the race website and address any concerns or questions to race officials.
- A Ground Crew is required for all racers. It may be physical, virtual or a combination of both. A physical Ground Crew is present at checkpoints and knows with some certainty their racers’ approximate location and condition. A virtual Ground Crew is able to track a racer via electronic means and will know a relatively exact location. Both physical and virtual Ground Crews must be available 24 hours a day for phone contact with Race Officials seeking information on their racer(s). To clarify, if you have a virtual Ground Crew, you must also have an electronic tracking system which they can monitor at all times. This can include regularly scheduled communication via text or voice.
- Infractions of any rule during the Event will be grounds for time penalties or disqualification to be reasonably and fairly determined by the race judges.
- Our goal is that there is less trash on the river and at river accesses after the race than before the race. Littering of the river is illegal. Racers must keep their trash in their boats and either transfer it to their Ground Crew or go ashore themselves to properly dispose of waste. Ground Crews are also responsible for properly disposing of waste. Any team caught deliberately littering the bank or river will be subject to disqualification. Teams that pick up existing trash along the river are deeply appreciated.
- Any solo racers in this event must be at least 18 years of age on July 23, 2024 or at least 10 years of age if part of a tandem team accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. (Note that the parent or legal guardian must sign the risk release waiver for the under-18-year-old child.)
- All racers in this Event must agree to and sign the “Amateur Athletic Waiver and Release of Liability”. This waiver is required by the United States Canoe Association for participation in this event. Racers must check that they have read the waiver when registering for the race but must also submit a signed physical waiver at the pre-race check-in (this waiver may be updated from the version signed during online registration).
- All team members will enter this race at their own risk and will not hold this event’s organizers, judges, officials, and sponsors liable for accidents to personnel or damage to any property.
- Multiple teams may not share paddlers. Teams may share Ground Crews.
- Teams must make formal contact with Race Officials at each designated checkpoint. Formal contact is defined by successfully checking in and out with the RaceOwl app or sending a text message to the designated contact number. This message may be sent by the physical or virtual Ground Crew or the racers themselves. Checkpoints will be manned by volunteers and race staff until the checkpoint deadline passes. If you elect to end your race you must make it a priority to contact Race Officials and let them know.
- The permits for the Missouri American Water MR340 require us to run the race in safe conditions. Should the river become unsafe during the race because of rising water, Race Officials are required by permit to end the race. The race would be ended as conditions dictated. It is possible that Racers who were further downstream, at the head of the pack, might be in a section of river that was NOT at a dangerous level and would be allowed to complete the course. Racers who were within or about to enter dangerous water, would have the race ended.
- Every effort will be made to have competitive divisions of boat type and paddler. Divisions only represented by a single boat are avoided and those boats will be placed in a division providing parity such as is possible. In this race, “old” people often beat young. Women often beat men. Solos often beat triples. Aluminum often beats carbon and bellies often beat abs. Attrition is usually 25-33%.
- Attempts to find and exploit rule loopholes are rarely good sportsmanship and are frowned upon in general by the Race Community.
- All participants agree to appear in event-related photography, videography and media coverage free of charge.
- In formulating the rules that govern this event, every effort has been made to foresee all situations and problems that may arise. However, officials of the Missouri American Water MR340 retain the right to change or amend these rules at any time without liability or recourse from any party regardless of the circumstances. Should rule changes or amendments be made, every effort will be made to notify all entrants. Should rule clarifications be needed mid race to address a specific situation, best judgement will be used by folks who love the race, weighing precedent and consistency.
The Race Course
- The Missouri American Water MR340 race course is 340 miles of the Missouri River, nearly across the entire state of Missouri. On Day 2 of the race, the first racers will hit the Finish Line while the tough tail of the race will be near Glasgow, approximately 195 miles upstream. Weather conditions will vary along the course. It is the racer’s responsibility to be aware of weather forecasts for their area. It is possible to have clear conditions in one area and severe storms in another. If severe weather including wind and lightning are present, racers shall make all attempts to maximize safety in the context of their location and circumstance.
- All team members (Racers and Ground Crews) should understand there are serious and inherent risks involved in this endeavor. The hydraulics associated with many obstructions along the river are inherently dangerous. The greatest risk, however, is from the numerous large and small powercraft that ply the great river. Constant vigilance, clear thinking, and quick reaction will be essential at all times. Good judgment must dictate when it is time to rest.
- For any “shortcut” to be legal, it must have a flow of river water through it. Overland portages are not allowed. The one exception is the Hermann Checkpoint where racers may land at the upstream ramp and launch again at the adjacent, downstream ramp.
- Racers must meet a series of checkpoint cutoff times as they proceed towards the finish line. The cutoff times for progress are designed to keep a tight safety halo for all paddlers. Failure to meet any checkpoint cutoff time is a disqualification, UNLESS, at the discretion of onsite Race Officials, it is determined that conditions outside the Racer’s control were in play such as violent weather. This would be a rare and unique circumstance and would likely apply only to the first checkpoint.
- Race Officials can shorten or lengthen checkpoint cutoff times if safety is a consideration.
- The Reaper is a pace boat that moves at the minimum speed required to meet each checkpoint. It is the physical representation of the ever-moving end of the race. The Cutoff Time Incarnate. If the Reaper beats a boat to the checkpoint as determined by an imaginary line bisecting the river and originating at the upstream intersection of boat ramp and waterline, the boat is disqualified. If the Reaper passes a boat prior to a checkpoint, the participants are not disqualified until the checkpoint is reached by the Reaper. In other words, a participant may be passed by the Reaper and then pass the Reaper on their way to a successful checkpoint arrival.
- Leaving the immediate race course (river, checkpoints, paddle stops, etc.) should be avoided. If a racer feels the need to leave the race course temporarily for any reason, their boat and one representative of the team or Ground Crew must remain at the course where the Racer departed until the Racer returns. This is to assure Race Officials of where the back of the race is for satisfying our permit and insurance. Often, the back of the race is well ahead of cutoff times and an absent paddler is a liability in the safety plan when the active last place boat “passes” the location where an absent racer intends to return later. Please make sure your boat and the team representative are easily visible to Race Officials.
- If a Racer skips any portion of the course they are disqualified and can be barred from future competition. These infractions are usually reported by fellow Racers, Ground Crews or Volunteers and then investigated by Race Officials.
- The “Governor’s Cup” will be awarded to the boat that arrives first to the finish line with the fastest overall time. For a solo to win, they would have to beat the first multi-person boat by over one hour (assuming a 7 a.m./8 a.m. segregated start).
- A boat has officially finished when a part of the boat touches the mud, ramp, sand or other structure immediately within what is the “finish line zone.” Each year the river gives us different realities to work with at the finish and every effort will be made to have this be an area safe for paddlers, spectators and volunteers. Having a “touch finish” metric allows our volunteers to more easily determine when a boat has finished and to resolve ties in an easier manner.
- Outside assistance that provides intentional aid in the forward progress of a race craft is not allowed. This includes towing, wake riding, deflection of wind and “rafting up”. However, competitive interaction between competing race craft, as is the case in most paddling marathon races, is acceptable. This will be restricted to only wake riding and wind deflection as is normal in a competitive, strategic paddling race. No towing of race craft is permitted.
- No race craft may be propelled by sail, kite, umbrella or other contrivance designed to harness wind or current to an advantage. Human-powered craft only. No sea anchors or similar devices. No stored energy device like a flywheel or similar tech may be used. Ask questions before you start building.
- A Ground Crew may assist with procurement of supplies, set up of tents and preparation of meals. They can perform work on the boat to include repairs, cleaning, and resupply while the boat is in water of approximately waist depth or less. Ground Crew may not, in any way, assist with propulsion of the boat. Support interaction with the competitor boat can only occur when the boat is in contact with the shore or in waist-deep water. No support of any kind provided from any type of boat is allowed. This includes verbal interaction, emotional support or cheering via boat. An official MR340 Safety Boat may provide aid to any Racer at discretion of the Safety Boat. There is no penalty if such is needed from a safety boat or fellow paddler to make it safely to the next checkpoint. No “muling” is allowed where a boat is working to assist on an ongoing basis. Swimming or paddling out to assist a boat is not allowed. Throw bags may be used, but a missed throw must be mitigated by the boat via maneuvering NOT by a support member swimming out. (See Rule #9 concerning littering.) PFD should be worn by all support teams when in moving water.
- A team member may quit the boat and the remainder of the team may continue on, still in the same division. The team member that quit may NOT enter the boat again at a downstream location and continue. For example, if one racer in a mixed tandem boat quits the race, the remaining racer can continue the race by themself but will remain in the mixed tandem division.
- The original boat must be paddled from start to finish. Repairs may be made to the boat during the race, but other alterations are not permitted. A boat cannot be switched out for another boat.
- Any part of the boat (rudders, outriggers, etc.) which will interact with the water during any portion of the race must be “on board” from start to finish.
- A space must be available on each side of the boat close to the bow above the waterline on which to affix the official race number (3 inches tall). 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 at night. An example would be mailbox numbers.
All Missouri American Water MR340 Rules have safety embedded in them. Please pay close attention to these lifesaving safety requirements.
- All racers are expected to assist other racers needing safety assistance or to contact Race Officials when possible and practical.
- All participants are required to comply with all health guidelines issued by any federal, state and/or local government agencies in effect at the time of the race.
- Each racer must properly wear a U.S. Coast Guard and/or ISO approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device) at all times while on the water. This is per the United States Coast Guard as part of our race permit. Each instance of a racer not properly wearing an approved PFD documented by a Race Official will result in a time penalty of 15 minutes, increasing with each infraction. A third violation will result in disqualification.
- A pea-less whistle and an emergency night light must be attached to each PFD at all times.
- This is one of the most important safety rules in the Missouri American Water MR340. Full navigation lights are required for night travel. Boating at night carries inherent risks. The decision to paddle at night is made solely by each team. The following guidelines are provided to minimize the risk of serious injury. Full navigation lights include mounting red/green lights on the bow and a white stern light. Paddlers should also have an LED or chemical light affixed to PFD in case of separation from boat. A white light (flashlight) for signaling is required to be aboard the boat. If navigation lights fail, racers must land at nearest safe location and attempt to fix the situation to ensure your lighting is visible for 360 degrees before continuing. This may include utilizing other onboard lighting, headlamps, paddling close with another lighted paddler or other measures. At nearest access point racer must make every effort to replace full navigation lighting.
Navigation lights may be modified to reduce impact to night vision by covering portions of the lights that shine toward the racer. Some people use electrical tape or paint for this. An example of proper lighting coverage is accessible here (the link is for motorcraft, but the concept is the same for paddlecraft).
Willful running without lighting will result in disqualification.
- Boating in foggy conditions is dangerous and is neither required nor recommended. If racers see fog beginning to build, find a safe landing spot and wait until fog clears.
- Assistance from Race Officials may take hours, especially in adverse conditions, and all racers need to have appropriate survival gear on-board and be prepared to self-rescue and hike out if needed.
- Official Missouri American Water MR340 Safety Boats are positioned throughout the Race Course. These boats are mostly operated and crewed by experienced and skilled volunteers. Their role is to track racer positions, provide aid for race safety, respond to the needs of Racers and Ground Crews, assist at Checkpoints and Paddle Stops and more. Some are stationed at a specific location. Others are transiting down the Race Course. Here are a few things to understand about Safety Boat roles and capabilities.
- Water or other needs for the health and safety of racers can be offered by Safety Boats in midstream.
- Safety Boats can offer midstream rescue to a boat. For example, if a racer exits their boat midstream, a Safety Boat or other racer can offer assistance and ferry a boat and racer to the nearest safely accessible point on shore at which point the racer may choose to continue racing without penalty.
- If a racer decides to quit or that they cannot safely continue downstream on their own power, Safety Boats can transport to next available public access downstream. If a racer is transported any distance downstream greater than the next safely accessible point on shore, they will be required to withdraw from the race and will be declared DNF. Safety Boats move downstream whenever possible to avoid creating large upstream wakes.