The MR340, the worlds longest non stop River, kayak, canoe and stand up paddle board race. 340 miles down the Missouri River from Kansas City to just upstream of St. Louis Missouri.
My wife and I have had the pure pleasure to complete the Missouri River MR340 three times.
Completing the race three times and the hundreds of hours of practice allowed us to test, approve, reject or perfect "our" paddle equipment requirements.
I say "our" because the exceptional athletes in the racing boats & surf skis and the slower but dedicated canonists with their room for extra gear, all had slightly different needs and gear.
The MR340 is a “human powered” endurance boat race across Missouri with an 88 hour time limit and 8 mandatory check points. Sleep is optional and at whatever location the exhausted participants choose to rest.
Personal Flotation device is mandatory. As is the very novel concept of wearing the PFD.
The knife? A knife that can be used with one hand is mandatory for the Water Tribe Races, but just a good idea no matter where you Kayak or canoe.
Picture the current pulling you taught to one hand hooked by a fishing line. Only one hand is free to obtain the blade.
First an admission: I began this page with a plan. A list. But then I thought, well there are books with far better lists. So am I adding any value? So I burned my list to heat some Mountain House food and went Random-no plan style. Hoping to keep a little bit of interest and some meager information.
Will probably still create another actual "List" page.
The mandatory equipment list is short:
PFD with whistle, river map, boat numbered with tow rope and cell phone for checking in. Night lights if planning on paddling during the dark hours.
"Not a lot of mandatory gear"
Requirement: Map of the race
(Not necessarily the detailed book in the photo) the map is a requirement so you can somewhat identify your location for emergency assistance in the event of a problem.
The map is a great idea, perhaps not so useful in the event of a disaster. It is just difficult to compare the trees you can see around you to the map in your hand.
It is always best to remember that the Missouri River has shoreline navigation markers every mile.
The mile marking signs are both a blessing and a curse when you tell yourself "Look only 55 miles to the next checkpoint"
How do you pack for 340 miles in 88 (or less) hours?
Practice packing & unpacking in the dark, then do it again and then do it again.
In the photo:
Medical kit, dry bag with dry emergency clothes, spray skirt for bad weather, dry box with night lights and spare batteries and dry bag with repair kit. Not shown: poncho, spare hat and rain jacket
Sunrise on the Missouri River:
Platypus drink container with electrolyte solution.
Food bag with sun screen
Kilt and gloves for sun protection
Small spotlight secured to the deck used in the pre-dawn darkness.
GPS to monitor paddle speed.
Morning fog on the Missouri River: Breakfast, GPS, water proof flashlight, night light at the front of the boat.
Night lights on front and back of the boat
This couple is leaving Herman (Check point #7), as the setting sun turns the muddy river to orange gold.
Note the boat lights are turned on.
Closer inspection of the couple in the boat also shows that he has removed his PFD. (Rule violation) And in my opinion a very risky move for night travel in tippy canoe.
I consider myself an excellent swimmer and diver. However the PFD stayed on for all races and practice. Because the PFD is needed for the unexpected. Jumping carp are a real threat that could knock a person out of a canoe.
Before I saw the missing PFD, I was (and still am) going to complement these two.
In their heavy aluminum canoe they beat us to the finish line by perhaps 12 hours. Their secret: stay in the boat. And of course to beat us they had given up a night or two of sleep.
On the Banana River, stalking a school of red drum.
Notice the yellow sticker?
Not Mandatory but a great idea
Ugly label I made of the river mile markers of the mandatory checkpoints and finish line.
Also which side of the river is the check points.
Race Checkpoints along the river:
Lexington, Waverly, Miami, Glasgow, Katfish Katys, Jefferson City, Herman, Klondike Park and the finish line at St. Charles.
Gear stashed behind my kayak seat for quick access.
Spare whistle, sunscreen, Poncho, glasses, personal shovel, sponge and the blue "drain" bottle.
The drain bottle marked with red tape. On a three hundred and forty mile race in mid summer--there are few stops to discharge body fluids, and so the red flagged bottle.
During the entire 340 mile race, people would suddenly stop and use their version of a red flagged bottle.
Also found that in mid summer the poncho is better than a broiling deck/spray skirt during rain storms.
Paddle? (or rather paddles)
Wolfhound puppy want to chew my expensive blade....
Okay a paddle is a given requirement. But what about the spare blade?
I will offer up the suggestion that the spare blade should be (as your wallet allows) as good as your main 'favorite' paddle.
One year on the MR race, I admired a garage made boat. Ingenious construction heavy, heavy material. (The two paddlers beat my wife and I to the finish line in their home made plastic boat. But then 95% of the finishers beat us to the finish line.)
However what I really remember is the paddle blade.
Less than a hundred miles into the race...Their main paddle (A big box store heavy blade) broke.
They had no choice but to default to their spare blade, which happened to be a two foot long wooden paddle.
Full disclosure: I kept the same 2 foot long back up blade for a least 15 years in my fishing canoe. Do not recall ever having to use it. Let alone use it in a race.
The two paddlers on the Missouri River? Wow we passed this boat and the fellow in front was bent over paddling with the tiny spare blade. --Only two hundred odd miles to paddle to the finish line.
The paddle is so important that I keep two expensive spare paddles in the boat for the race. (one to be dropped, one to be snapped in half)
Had to wince when I saw this....
Protection from the sun. Again, not mandatory but.....
Four days in the mid west, mid summer, on river reflecting sunlight. Bring on the burn.....
Okay I will admit I am over sensitive on this subject (pun intended).
As I mentioned on my Surfing Kennedy Space Center page my doctor has sagely advised that my Scots-Irish-Slav freckled skin stay out of the sun. To many years of exposure in the brutal Caribbean sun has taken its toll. The doc throws around that "C" word.
So there are so many varied reasons that a large percentage of the MR340 racers get a DNF (Did not finish) And SUNBURN is one of those reasons.
My wife and I allowed not one inch of skin be available to burn. -Was it hot and miserable sometimes? Heck yes but that really is part of the challenge of the Missouri River 340 race.
I will admit that at night under the full moon I took the shirt and hat off, clasped the PFD back on and enjoyed the Midwest nights.
Long sleeve wicking shirt
Site Under construction while I mull over stuff...
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