Monday, July 30, 2007

MR340 Day 1 Trip Report

Now home and rested, I realize that with all the fun and adventure, there was not enough picture taking. In future, I've got to do a much better job of this, hopefully, Marek Uliasz on his fit2paddle blog will post a great slide show of the race.

It was a little over 1,000 mile drive from Chapel Hill, NC to Kansas City, MO, for the race start. Alan and I broke the drive up over a 3 day period, including a stop in O'Fallan IL, where we continued on with Stan and Dana Hansen (who had offered us bank support during the race). We arrived in KC on Sunday afternoon and immediately started meeting some of the other participants who were also staying at the hotel (including WaterTribe and Kruger Canoe friends Mark Przedwojewski, Brian Weber, and John Flegg. There was lots of socializing, last minute shopping, registration and staging the boats on the water, then the big Captains Meeting on Monday evening.

The Captains Meeting was quite an enjoyable affair, held in a large ballroom at the hotel, filled with the racers and their support crews, family and friends. Scott the race manager, an excellent public speaker, with quite a wonderful sense of humor, covered all the essential information with a corresponding slide show which included many photos taken last year by Marek.

Early Tuesday morning we were all at Kaw point, where the Kansas River meets the Missouri River for the start. Photo below is of Alan, packing up in the Kruger SeaWind Stan lent him, with KC in the background. I would be paddling my much used and loved Kruger Dreamcatcher.

The race start was very exciting. I was interviewed by a local television station and radio station, and there was a DJ with a huge sound system playing great tunes. One of the racers, Dan Grubbs, who also maintains the blog Midwest Paddle Adventures, daughter who attends Julliard sang the National Anthem, and we then had the countdown.

The start with 73 boats (2 no shows) was not as bad as I had thought. Many of us gave way to those who we knew were in it for the race. And I'm not sure all were even in the water at the races start. Photo at left racers waiting for the start across the Kaw River.

The absolute best part of the race, was meeting other paddlers along the way, ones you were passing or those who were passing you. Often you would paddle together for awhile, visit, and get to know each other. The participants varied from serious racers, to cruisers, to first-timers, to those that just loved the river and wanted to experience it. Boats varied from racing shells and racing kayaks, to plastic kayaks and all manner of canoes.

The first day of the race was our shortest, 105 miles to the 3rd checkpoint in Miami. I don't remember much about that first day, there were a couple of boat ramps in addition to the checkpoints where family and friends of the paddlers would cheer them on. I recall picking up some cold water bottles from Stan at one of the boat ramps and Stan helped fill our water bladders at Lexington when we arrived at 3:38 pm, at this checkpoint I believe we got out of the boats to stretch for a minute. We also checked in at Waverly at 7:16PM.

My GPS data shows us stopped at these checkpoints for 14 and 8 minutes, not too bad. Up until 10PM we were moving pretty well, then Alan's stomach started feeling poorly, he then became very nauseous and emptied all stomach contents a couple times. We pretty much floated at about 3mph the next 2 hours till we arrived at Miami.

We hadn't really planned to be paddling together (in fact we'd teased for weeks that we were racing each other), but neither of us would allow the other to move ahead, and when Alan started feeling bad, I went into Mom mode.

Once in Miami I found some pepto bismol in my 1st aid kit, and told him he needed to eat and drink before sleeping, and prove he can keep it down if he was to continue in the race. We downed some endurox drink and heated up some chemical heat meals. Pretty exhausted by this point, and just too tired to set up a tent, we laid our thermarests and sleeping bags on the grass about 1:00 AM and slept under some mosquito netting to keep from being eaten.

I set my alarm clock for 5am, thinking we needed at least 4 hours to see if Alan was going to feel well enough to keep going. However, the Boy Scouts in their enthusiasm to make pancakes for the racers and their crew that morning, actually tried to start their generator at 3:30, and tried and tried for a 1/2 hour. I managed a total of 2 1/2 hours sleep. I recall hearing someone yelling out about cutting the grass, and I worried they wouldn't see us on the ground in the dark. Alan seemed to sleep though it till I woke him up about 4, but we were slow moving and we didn't get back on the water till 5am.

Alan woke up saying he felt much better, and he figured if he had problems, he'd just call one of the safety boats to help him out. Throughout the race we would see a safety boat pass by a few times each day.

My goal going into the race was for a 75 hour finish. I had determined this as a good goal based on last years finishing times. Leaving Miami, I knew this was still very doable, and with time to spare if weather conditions turned bad. I'd paddled a very comfortable pace and was really quite pleased with our time, even though I had gotten off the water 2 hours earlier than originally planned.

Paddling a Kruger Canoe means a very comfortable ride, which allows for the required longer ride, if your in it to race. The Kruger is an expedition canoe, and not a racing canoe. It does well in a long distance race when the Kruger paddler can keep on going and stay in the boat. I can easily maintain regular paddling speeds with my kayaking friends, but I do get left when everyone cranks. And yes, there was the occasional frustration of having some of the sea kayaks and faster canoes passing you by, knowing they often got more time resting on land. I usually just think they would probably pass me if they were paddling my Kruger too. That said, we were doing great, and we did leave Miami well ahead of many of the other racers who had still not come in to this checkpoint yet.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Missouri 340: Finished!

SandyBottom and SOS crossed the the Finish Line at 1:01 am Friday, July 27.

Their time in the race was 65 hours and 1 minute. Wow.

Photo by Dave J (Galt_57) of the St. Louis Canoe and Kayak Club.

During that time they got about 6 hours sleep. I roughly guestimate they spent another 2.5 hrs on land, and so were on the water for ~56.5 hrs averaging ~6 mph while moving.

SB and SOS called home in the wee hours Friday to report in very weary voices that they were headed out on a 40-minute drive to Stan and Dana's house for hot showers, food, and rest. Sleep well !

"Wayfarer" demonstrating proper post-race sleep technique. Note the blissful expression and relaxed paddle grip. (Photo by Connie Uliasz after Marek Uliasz finished the 2006 MR340 race.)

SB was 3/9

SandyBottom's goal for the race was to finish in 75 hours or less. Done! Among the 9 paddlers in the Women's Solo division, SandyBottom (at 65:01) finished 3rd. The other early finishers were Erin Magee (55:33) who used a wing paddle in a long sleek racer (Spencer Canoes DSX), and Katie Pfefferkorn (58:57) who used a Werner euro-blade and a 17-foot kayak on loan from Scott Mansker, the MR340 Coordinator. Katie did not bring the concrete canoe she recently built as part of her chemical engineering curriculum at M.U.; darn it! (Note: The MR340 website has incorrectly posted Katie's time as 48:57.) Final times are not yet posted for all of the other 6 solo women, but "DNF" has been posted for 3 of them.

SOS was 13/45
Among the 45 paddlers in the Men's Solo division, SOS (at 65:01) finished 13th using a single-blade paddle and Kruger Seawind on loan from Stan. First place was won by Dave Anderson (46:21). To date, "DNF" has been posted for 5 of the 45 solo men. "Wayfarer" Marek Uliasz (68:00) had to repair some leaks in his new boat (Thunderbolt X) but finished 14th. He has previously put together a fine photo gallery of the 2006 MR340; so, watch his website for his photos from the 2007 race. Compared to his time in the 2006 MR-340 (78:32) Marek improved his time substantially. Another WaterTribe friend "RiverJohn" Flegg (77:40) paddled his Kruger Seawind in to 21st place. I wonder if he'll be paddling home now up the Mississippi ... ?

ManitouCruiser and Capt of the O'dark30 4/18
Among the 18 teams in the men's tandem division, Mark and Brian (59:28) used single-blade paddles to bring a Kruger Cruiser in to 4th place. West Hansen and Richard Steppe (44:27) won 1st place in this division and were 1st overall across all divisions. West Hansen paddled solo in the 2006 MR-340 and was the overall winner (53:40 in 2006) in that first annual MR-340.

Mixed Tandem and Women's Tandem
Among the 3 mixed tandem boats, 2 are posted as "DNF" --that includes the team of Ann Grove & Wayne Kocher whose OC2 collided with a barge "train". One news report online mentions that they were swamped by the huge (bow) wave created by the barge, while the other report online says the a barge ran over their boat and they had to "crawl out from under the barge". There was only 1 entry in the women's tandem division: Di McHenry and Natalie Courson (61:09).

Well done all!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Missouri 340: CP8 at Washington

SandyBottom and SOS reached the last check point (CP8) this evening. CP8 is 39.4 miles from the Finish Line !

SB called in at 7:10 pm (Thursday) as they were paddling away from CP8 toward the finish. It was dinner time but SB said she was "tired of the food" didn't feel hungry. They plan to cross the finish line between 1:00 am and 2:00 am (Friday).

Stan and Dana were there at CP8 providing support. Thanks team!

Marek was there trying to repair a leak in his sleek racer. Also at CP8 were Ann Grove and Wayne Kocher whose OC2 suffered the barge-kayak collision the previous night.


Missouri 340: CP7 at Hermann

CP7: An old aerial at a time of high water.
Today the water level was not this high.

SandyBottom reported that she and SOS reached CP7 at Hermann, MO, at about 2:45 pm and were paddling away from there toward CP8 at Washington, MO.

She was advised by 'experts' at CP7 that "if you really crank it, you can cross the finish line by midnight". However, she said she did not have a great amount of "crank" left in her.

CP7 is only about 67 miles from the Finish Line !
CP7 to CP8: 28.2 miles, ETA between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm Thursday.
CP8 to Finish: 39.4 miles, ETA between midnight and 2:00 am Friday.

Wayne Kocher and Ann Grove
More second-hand info about the boat that had a collision with a barge last night. She said the boat was the fast tandem outrigger sit-on-top canoe(OC2) that has been in first place in the mixed-tandem division, 8th place overall. That would be Ann Grove and Wayne Kocher. The barge vessel was in motion with lights on the tug that was pushing two barges side-by-side from behind, but there were no lights on the barges. Poor visibility in the darkness, and perhaps a bit of fog/haze was major factor. The $8000 (?) OC2 was demolished. For some reason crew of the tug were up front on the "bows" of the barges, and they saw the collision and rescued Ann and Wayne.

The Kansas City Star has posted a report online in their local news section: "Couple Unhurt In Kayak-Barge Collision-- Authorities said a couple racing in the Missouri 340 was not injured after their kayak collided with two barges being pushed side-by-side by a tugboat in the Missouri River. The Missouri State Water Patrol said the 24-foot kayak and the barge rounded a bend in Gasconade County at about 2 a.m. Thursday. They couldn't get out of the barge's way in time and the tug was unable to stop and ran over the kayak, tossing the two occupants into the water. The man and woman were able to crawl out from under the barge and were not injured. Race officials said Wayne Kocher, 70, and Ann Grove, 66, of Benicia, Calif., were running eighth. " [and first place in mixed tandems.]

Umm .... how do you "crawl out from under the barge" ...? Any way you can, I guess. So glad they survived. It sounds like it was a terribly close call.

Missouri 340: CP6 at Jefferson City

SandyBottom and SOS arrived at CP6 near a bridge to Jefferson City at about 3:05 am (Central time) Thursday. SB called in at 7:25 am to say that they were on the water again headed for CP7, CP8 and the Finish Line. She said the 115-mile paddle from CP6 to the Finish Line was expected to take 19 hours, and that if they do not stop to sleep along the way, they could finish the race by 3:00 am Friday.

CP6 was a noisy place because of the traffic over the bridge. Getting 3 hours of sleep was difficult. SB said it seemed like every truck in the US crossed the bridge during the night.

The Bridge
(Source: GoogleEarth)

The bend in the river a mile upstream from CP6 (Source: GoogleEarth)


The Kansas City Star reported that "West Hansen and Richard Steppe won this year's Missouri River 340 race, finishing the journey down the Missouri River this morning in St. Charles, Mo. Hansen/Steppe team needed 44 hours and 27 minutes to finish the race, which started Tuesday in Kansas City, Kan. It was a repeat victory for Hansen, who won last year as a solo competitor in 53 hours, 29 minutes. Russ Payzant, who has been leading the racers down the river in a powered safety boat, said that most of the competitors had gone the entire race without sleep. About 65 boats remained in the competition as of late Wednesday night. "Imagine running a marathon times 10," Payzant said. "That's what they did.""

Among the 9 women paddling solo boats, SandyBottom is currently among the top 3. Erin Magee has an 8-hour lead on SB. Katie Pfefferkorn has a 6-hour lead on SB. Based on CP4 arrival times, the challengers following behind SB include Dawn Keller, Edie Jackson, Christina Glauner, and Nicki Eatinger who are 4 to 7 hours behind.

SOS is currently somewhere in the middle of the widely dispersed pack of 45 men paddling solo boats. Based on CP4 arrival times, about 20 of the 45 are ahead of SOS and the rest are behind him.

SandyBottom said that she heard at CP6 that one boat had a collision with a barge during the dark of night. She said the boat was the fast tandem outrigger sit-on-top that has been in first place in the mixed-tandem division. (That would be Ann Grove and Wayne Kocher ?) SB said the two paddlers were safely rescued. Perhaps news reports will be posted: Was the barge was moving? What damage to the boat?

It is well known that barges moving on the Missouri are a deadly hazard to paddlers --especially at night and in fog.

"Barge" [bahrj]
1. a kayaker's nightmare
2. dark thing coming up behind you

[Origin: ancient word for
"the captain can't see you"]

Photo: Garry McMichael

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Missouri 340: CP5 at Coopers Landing

10:19 pm (Central time).
Stan and Dana were waiting at CP5 when SandyBottom and SOS arrived at about 10:30 pm. They were waiting with cool water and delicious Subway sandwiches! Thanks Stan and Dana !

10:40 pm
SB called home at 10:40 as she and SOS were floating away from CP5 toward CP6 while enjoying their tasty subs by star light. Dinner while drifting at 3 mph. The post-subway plan: paddle a while longer --perhaps all of the remaining 26 miles to CP6 (Jefferson City) and then camp. ETA would be after 3am.

SandyBottom reported that the air was thick with bugs, so they are not using any lights. She found that nighttime visibility through a bug net over the head is poor, so no bug net either. By the way, the top speed of the Missouri mosquito is 1.2 mph.

Missouri 340: Between CP4 and CP6

The plan for this afternoon (Wednesday), according to SB, is to paddle downriver toward CP5(Coopers Landing.) It's about 56 miles from CP4 to CP5. If all goes well, SandyBottom, SOS, and "the peloton" might make it to CP6(Jeff City) before setting up camp. CP5 to CP6 is about 26 miles.

Update: Son-0f-Sandy (SOS) called in at about 6:30 pm (Central time) to report that he and SandyBottom were paddling away from a rest stop at the boat ramp at Frankin Island (near mile marker 195) where they had met up with Stan and Dana. All were reported doing well. SOS said their plan was "to paddle a long long time to a camp site a long long way down the river". Well yes, that is the essence of the MR340 and why worry with the small details. SOS also reported that he photographed a water snake today, and that the concensus was that the river was flowing at about 3 mph. We want the river to flow fast.

Is it really the "Missouri 170" ?

If you normally paddle 3 miles in 1 hour on a calm flat lake, just think what happens when you paddle downstream on a river that is moving at 3 mph. The pool of water you are paddling in is traveling at 3 mph and you are paddling across that pool at 3 mph. In 1 hour of paddling you will travel about 6 miles downriver. The point is, a 6-mile non-stop paddle down the river will "feel like" a 3-mile non-stop paddle on lake water. So when the river is moving at the same speed you normally paddle, the distance "feels like half". When the river contributes 3 mph and you contribute 3 mph, then a 100-mile paddle downriver will "feel like" a 50-mile lake paddle.

But that assumes there are no headwinds. Wind moving upstream can easily cancel the river's contribution to forward progress. In 2006 the last section of the race course featured a strong headwind. (It also assumes that air resistance effects are negligible as the paddler moves through two fluids: water and air.)

There doesn't seem to be easily obtainable information about how fast the Missouri is flowing. I've heard that 3 mph is a good guess for purposes of planning a trip, that 5 mph is plausible, and that the main deep channel in the center can be 1 mph faster than near shore. Of course there are also swirling eddies behind rocks/barriers in the river, with still pools and even counter-flows upstream --very useful if like Lewis and Clark you're trying to go upstream.

The MR340 adventure racers are out there right now trying to stay in the fastest parts of the downriver flow.

The speed of the river can be a great equalizer

On a calm lake a 4-mph paddler is 100% faster than a 2-mph paddler. But on a 3-mph river, the two travel at 7 mph and 5 mph --and now the faster paddler is only 40% faster. Fast paddlers should favor a slow river while slower paddlers should hope for a maximum river speed.

Here is a look at the current wind report and radar for Missouri:

Blue is calm, green is windy.

Nothing on the radar now
(4:30 pm Central Time).

Missouri 340: CP4 Stump Island at Glasgow

Map and news article.
Our paddlers rested at CP3 (Miami) from about 1:00am to 5:45am. But sleep was in short supply for all who arrived to camp at CP3 after midnight. A troop of Boy Scouts rolled in for a fund-raising event and cranked up a deafening generator at 3:30am which made sleep difficult thereafter --even for those who you'd expect could "sleep through anything".

SandyBottom and SOS left CP3 at 5:45am. SOS was feeling fine and had no trouble paddling the Kruger Seawind onward. Alrighty then!

Less than 6 hrs later and 37 miles downriver they arrived at CP4 at about 11:30am. (That's ~6.43 mph). They did not linger at CP4.

Paddling away from CP4, SandyBottom called in at 11:50am (Central time) to report plans and weather conditions. She said yesterday's cooling breeze had disappeared and the day was a hot one. Being a bit ahead of schedule, sleep deprived, and feeling the heat, the plan was to paddle an hour away from CP4 to the next boat ramp and find some cool shade for a brief nap. Good plan.

No doubt, Stan and Dana will be there for support. SandyBottom reported that Stan and Dana provided ice cream (!) at CP3 and are always ready with the ice and chilled water.

Thank you Stan and Dana!

SB noted that I should call Stan for "all the details and color commentary." Good idea.

In other Team Kruger news, SandyBottom reported that non-stop paddlers Mark Przedwojewski (a.k.a. ManitouCruiser) & Brian Weber (a.k.a. Captain O'dark Thirty) had successfully paddled their tandem Kruger Cruiser to second place overall, but had slipped to 4th place recently due to an episode of diarrhea that struck Brian. [insert your own joke here about going and going and going ...]. That's yet another G.I. upset in the ranks/"peloton". Stage actors wish each other good luck by saying, "Go out there and break a leg!" Perhaps the equivalent in the MR340 is something like "Drink some river and lick your paddle!" Here's hoping Brian is okay now.

Missouri 340: CP3 at Miami Riverfront Park

SandyBottom reported in at 1:00 am having arrived at CP3 a few minutes before. SandyBottom, SOS and many others were preparing dinner and putting up tents for a few hours sleep at CP3 with alarm clocks set for 5:00am. CP3 is 104.6 miles from the starting line. Arriving a little before 1:00 am means that they paddled with the river for almost 17 hours. The average speed over the 104.6 miles was thus 6.15 mph.

SOS battled severe nausea the last 20 miles coming into CP3 --for any of several possible reasons. For example, SB thought that SOS might have overdone the fluid intake. Whatever the correct diagnosis is, I am sure that was a tough 20 miles for SOS and it looks like it contributed to slowing him down to about 5.56mph during the 30 mile trip from CP2 to CP3. We are all hoping some sleep will let him feel better. Of course, SB and the folks at CP3 are making sure SOS does not become dehydrated. If necessary SOS and SB will extend their rest period at CP3. Health and safety on the river is top priority. I hope you feel better soon, Alan!

Missouri 340: CP2 at Port of Waverly Park

SandyBottom arrived at CP2 at 7:18pm. SOS arrived at CP2 at 7:16pm. RiverJohn brought his Kruger canoe in at 7:23pm.

Having covered 74 miles in 11.6 hours indicates an average speed of 6.38mph. When SandyBottom arrived at CP2 there were 2 solo women paddlers ahead of her and 5 behind her.

The above map shows positions of paddlers as they were leaving CP2. The interactive version of this map can be found here.

Missouri 340: CP1 at Lexington

SandyBottom reported in immediately after having arrived at checkpoint 1 (CP1) at Lexington, MO, at 3:38pm. SOS arrived at the same time. RiverJohn arrived at CP1 two minutes earlier.

She said that everyone was feeling good and having a great time.

Map positions of paddlers leaving CP1
as shown on the MR340 website.

Covering the 51.1 miles to CP1 in 7.633 hrs means average speed was 6.69 mph. Perhaps the river flow contributed roughly 3 of those mph.

Relative to the other 54 solo paddlers (women and men pooled), the arrival time of 3.38pm put SandyBottom and SOS in 25th / 26th place --that is, near the median of the solo paddlers.

The "pelaton" was expected to arrive at CP2 at Port of Waverly Park before 11:00 pm on Tuesday (Day1 of the race.) Waiting to hear about the arrivals at CP2....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Missouri 340: Go!

These are two of the more than 90 racers (~ 70 boats) entered in the 2007 MR340. SOS plans to pretend to be slower than SandyBottom until the final mile and then sprint to win. SandyBottom is planning to fake out SOS by waking up two hours earlier than SOS and paddle away at o'dark thirty on the last day. Ha ha ha ha.

The race across the state:
from section 8 to section 1. Detailed maps here.

Ready, Set, Go! As 8am approached Tuesday, SandyBottom and SOS paddled across the river to a sand bar and toed the line with other members of Team Kruger, including ManitouCruiser and RiverJohn. The Kansas City Star published this photo of some of the racers at the start...

As KiwiBird and SpiritWalker pointed out, the two boats in the upper left corner seem to be Kruger Canoes --possibly the left-most is SOS and the second from left could be SandyBottom. In any case photos and video published by the Kansas City Star provided us another view of the start.

Here is another view of the start (via Google Earth) published on the RiverMiles--MR340 website:

Can we borrow the word "peloton"? Apparently the labeling of the relative positions of the paddlers is based on observations of the race managers. Not all the paddlers are identified by labels.

You can follow all the details of the racers progress at the RiverMiles--MR340 website. Maps and times are posted providing racer-specific details.

Meanwhile..... 340 miles to the east, downstream, in the finish line waits.

(Gigantic flag courtesy of Google Earth.)


Missouri 340: Captains' Meeting. Toe the Line

SandyBottom reported in on Monday after the 5pm Captains' meeting. It was not the usual thing; it featured a multi-media presentation and numerous news media personnel and was held in a ballroom large enough to handle the 90+ adventure racers (~70 boats) and their river-bank-running support teams. Apparently the 2nd annual MR340 is a well-run event.

At the meeting the racers heard all the latest about Big Muddy and were warned again to watch out for night time hazards such as the Black Swirl, the legendary invincible flying swarm of undead blood suckers, and an evil barge driver known as Captain Jax Parrow.

SandyBottom also reported that Tuesday morning the count-down to 8am was also exciting. News media crews were on hand to interview the racers (including SandyBottom) and record video reports:

Finally at the starting line at Kaw Point Park, rock music provided a sound track for the event, and the general public turn out to applaud the paddlers as they sprinted off. It is at Kaw Point that the Kansas River joins the big Missouri River.

For women and men who love kayak and canoe adventure races, the MR340 is a darn good venue for crossing paddles with top-notch paddlers
to win a golden medallion.

Yo ho me hearties! All hands to the boats!

Missouri 340: The Drive to Paddle

At week's end, our two members of the extended family of Team Kruger --SandyBottom and number one son SOS-- traveled west to find the starting line on the Missouri River.

This required two days of driving to meet up with team member Stan and his wife Dana near the finish line (take out) at St. Louis. Stan has switched his role from paddler to supportive river-bank-running for this race due to a tendonitis.

From the hospitality of Stan and Dana's home the team drove another four hours to the starting line (put in) at Kansas City. Meanwhile numberous other members of Team Kruger converged on Kansas City.

The trip from NC to KS added up to more than 16 hours spent rolling up the road. Clearly these are dedicated kayakers who have what it takes: the drive to paddle.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

And We're Off

Alan and I leave tomorrow (Friday), we'll arrive at Stan's in Illinois on Saturday, and Kansas City on Sunday. We'll hopefully find some time for a couple quick shake down paddles on this famous Missouri River, then have some great social time meeting and greeting all the other participants.

My husband Paul has again offered to update my blog with race updates, so stay tuned (thank-you Paul). Also the race site is planning to maintain updates of the paddlers status here. The race starts Tuesday morning, July, 24th, with a 100 hour deadline.

Remember, I'm a cruiser not a racer, it's enough work for me to just finish these challenges, so I'll likely not be at the front of the pack. With 70 boat entrees, there are some real racers and racing boats in this years MR340, so it should be pretty exciting.

Alan is super-competitive, but not really much of a paddler. His forte is really sailing and he's quite good at it. He hasn't really even put in any paddling time preparing for this race. So, I'm thinking, he's going to really hurt bad, and if I can do this with minimum sleep (which I suspect is also his plan), then just maybe I can whup his young a$&.

I may only be a cruiser, but he got that competitive spirit from me :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Time to Pack

Got in a late 15 miler last night on the lake, camped, then paddled back early this morning, enjoyed both a beautiful sunset and sunrise. I love camping in my Hennesey Hammock tent, especially after paddling. I wake up and my back, arms, and shoulders fell so well rested and restored. I'm hoping I'll be able to use it during the MR340, possibly at the boat ramps. This paddle will be the last of my training.

This weekend will be spent putting in new rudder cables, replacing old bungee's, putting my race number on my Kruger Dreamcatcher (#1952, a very good year to be born) and getting all packed (Alan and I plan to start driving on Friday).

I'm still trying to figure out packing. In the WaterTribe challenges you are unsupported, and carry everything you'll need for up to 7 days. The MR340 allows shore support. I'm finding it a bit of a challenge figuring out what I want with me, vs have available to me every 40 or so miles. I think I'd normally just prefer to keep all my gear and food with me, but, my Dreamcatcher is no light weight (almost 70 lbs), and any extra weight means I'm working so much harder then the racers with their carbon fiber lightweight kayaks and canoes.

And, I want to spend some time playing with Paul this weekend. He just got his new bike, a Bacchetta Recumbant Strata, it's beautiful. I'd love to try it out, but, after watching him fall over twice within his first 3 minutes, I've decided to wait till after the race, just in case :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Talk about a Challenge!

Roz Savage, 39, plans to row from San Francisco on the first leg of an endurance journey, a 2300- mile trip to Hawaii. She will likely leave this week, in a souped-up, 24-foot-long rowboat named the Brocade. Her rowboat is equipped with a tiny watertight cabin for sleeping, a bedpan and industrial quantities of health food bars, nuts and freeze-dried meals. This is not your grandfathers row boat.

The first stretch of her adventure should take Savage two to three months, then after taking a month to rest, she will depart for the final stages: a 2,600-mile trip to the island nation of Tuvalu, then 2,300 miles to Australia. Wow!

No stranger to rowing or adventure, Roz first took up rowing in college and rowed alone last year from Spain's Canary Islands, located off the northwestern African coast, to the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, as part of a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean.

The goal of her journey is to raise awareness about marine conservation efforts. She has teamed up with Brocade Communications Systems Inc., her sponsor, which makes computer networking gear because of its commitment to reducing power consumption in corporate data centers.

She will not be followed by a rescue boat, but will carry a satellite phone, update her blog through a PC with satellite Internet access and be monitored online by Brocade employees and environmentalists through global positioning tracking technology.

Quite a physical, mental, and emotional feat. Now I'm thinking my MR340 will just be a paddle around the block :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Music is very important to me on those long distance paddles required for endurance races like the MR340, and it's a really big help on the late night paddles.

I had purchased a Zen Nano Plus for the 2006 Watertribe Ultimate Florida Challenge. At the time it was the only MP3 that I could find that included an FM radio, used one small AAA battery for 18 hours of play (no recharging necessary), and was itself very small.

I'm planning to use my Nano MP3 player during the MR340 race. I've also purchased the EGO Waterproof Sound Case for MP3s and IPODs. It was recommended by another paddler on the MR340 discussion forum. I'm really hoping it'll work with my MP3 player. I'll hopefully test it out this weekend if it gets here on time.

I've never felt completely safe having earphones with music blocking my ability to hear when on the water. And I've always felt a bit foolish singing along (I cannot sing) without the music drowning out my voice.

I'm very excited about this sound system, and have even spent most of the evening updating and loading new tunes on my MP3, a very eclectic mix inclding Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steely Dan, Natalie Cole, Fleetwood Mac, and Craig David.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Lots to do, only about 14 days left till the MR340.

I really believe that the most important paddling muscle is your butt. You've got to get it in the boat and get it in there often. Nothing beats time on the water. But with only 14 more days to race day, time for distance training is now over.

I did my last long paddle on Sunday. I started early, the temperature was 73 degrees and quickly rose to 93, humidity was at 85 and lowered to 48%. It was very hot, and very informative. I learned a bit more about my fluid intake requirements, I'll be drinking water from a camelback bladder, and drinking both accelerade and gookinade throughout the day from nalgene bottles. Neither of these drinks have preservatives, so I'll not be able to make a full days supply each morning.

I'm also being pretty careful not to forget to take daily doses of echinacia, airborne, and emergen - C. I'm a pretty healthy person in general, and usually have very few colds, but now would be a horrible time to get sick.

I've been studying the charts, reading about the navigation signage, making tables of all the boat ramps and official checkpoints along the route, and pre-planning and second guessing my camp spots. And I've been making lists and more lists, packing lists, food lists, lists of lists. Lots to do.

This race is one of the most organized of any I've ever been involved in. Race management has done such a wonderful job, and the race hasn't even begun. Their attention to detail and organization thus far says a lot about how well the race will actually be run. This always makes for a safer and more pleasant experience for everyone. And is much appreciated.

Registered racers are even starting to get dispatch memo's (have gotten #1 and #2 thus far). These memo's review the race rules, the race course, and the checkpoints in great detail. They also include discussions of various safety issues, and include lots of suggestions and great information about the river, river traffic, paddling the river at night etc... They say they want these dispatches to answer all and any questions we might have. What an excellent idea.

There is also a great website, RiverMiles, that includes information about the Missouri River 340, the Kansas River Gitty Fifty race that was held a couple weeks ago, a couple of informative forums, and some great links about these rivers.

The Kansas City Kansan's online news mentioned the MR340 yesterday, the race advertises as the world's longest non-stop river race, the news reported that a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records will attend the event to measure the length to see if it’s really the longest. How cool is that!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bittersweet Weekend

Two things have been constantly on my mind the last couple of months, my dear friend Dan, and my upcoming MR340 paddling race. One has sadly become my history, the other my immediate future. This weekend my mind is again occupied by little else, making for a bittersweet weekend.

Paul and I drove over to Edenton this morning to join in a celebration of Dan's life. It was a wonderful gathering of Dan and Ellen's friends. On their dock on the Yeopim River we said a prayer, Ellen read a letter to Dan, a letter from Dan's son Micheal was read, and I was asked to spread his ashes into the water that Dan had spent so much time paddling in. There were tears and laughter as many recalled fond memories and funny stories.

Edenton is 185 miles east of our home in Chapel Hill. It is a beautiful small historic town (many say it's historic district surpasses Williamsburg, Va, all restored originals, not reconstructed). Sitting on the Albemarle Sound, it would be a wonderful location for paddling, sailing, and living an active outdoor lifestyle. It is an area Paul and I have considered moving to when we retire.

Though Dan's preference was more towards wilderness experiences, his love of paddling, and distance paddling always had him interested in my challenges. We'd spent many hours paddling on the Sound and the Roanoke River together putting in the long miles as part of my training for previous WaterTribe Challenges.

Our drive over and back to Edenton, also allowed time to think and discuss my plans for the MR340 with Paul. Changing over to the women's solo division requires a very different plan. Long distance endurance events like this are so mental, and with only 15 days till the race, I really need to get my head into this change.

And tomorrow, I'll go back on the lake. I paddled 26 miles on Wednesday, but now feel the need to paddle a nice slow cruising 35 miles. This will be my last long paddle before the race, it's distance will give me confidence, the predicted heat will help me to acclimate and prepare for the conditions expected on the Missouri River, and the time and solitude will let me finish my goodbye's to Dan.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


A big part of team work is to look out for your teammate.

My partner, in the mixed double category of the MR340 paddling race, Stan Hanson, did just that on Wednesday. Stan had been hoping that a flare up of elbow tendinitis would calm down in time for the race, but after testing it out last weekend, and consulting with his orthopaedic surgeon, he decided he had to make that extremely tough decision of backing out.

It was a difficult phone call; so much disappointment. We discussed the options, including just paddling as much as we could to experience the river, knowing we would likely not finish. But Stan did not think that would be fair to me, and I worried that any further paddling would set his healing back, potentially worsening his injury.

We may no longer be paddling together in this race, but we are still a team. I will be switching over to the women's solo category, cruising the race in my Kruger Dreamcatcher, and Stan will run the bank, offering me much needed and appreciated support during the race.

Thank-you Stan.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

First Place

A great weekend for Team Velocity.

Congratulations Trey Brown and Alan Stewart (my son), 1st sailboat over the line in the 2007 Statue of Liberty Race. It's considered a fairly challenging race, ~40 miles in an area known for variable winds, strong tides and currents, and busy marine traffic in the NY harbor channel (cruise ships, barges and tugboats, ferries, fishing and recreational boats). Rounding the Statue of Liberty, surrounded by the Manhattan skyline is a view that would make up for the races challenges.

Alan called us this afternoon to report they were the first boat in and will take 1st place in their division (~10 other Inter-20's). With ~50 boats in all, we won't know their overall place till all the finishing times and handicaps are calculated. It's supposed to be a real fun weekend, sponsored by the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, there's camping on the beach, band's playing, beach parties, and an after race celebration.

Of course this means Alan is not putting in any miles paddle training for the MR340 canoe and kayak race (he's registered in solo men's). He didn't train for the 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge either, and Team RAF did quite well. Oh to be 21 again!

I on the other hand spent the weekend paddling my Kruger Dreamcatcher on the lake, it was hot, hot, hot. I'll finish up my MR340 training with another a 20-25 miler on Wednesday the 4th, playing in all the motorboat wakes, then another 15 miler next Sunday.