Heroes on the Missouri

High water, cool temps and a chance rescue mark the ninth Missouri American Water MR340

Racers start the 2014 Missouri American Water MR340 on August 12 in Kansas City, Mo. Aerial photo by Cindy Hiles

Racers start the 2014 Missouri American Water MR340 on August 12 in Kansas City, Mo. Aerial photo by Cindy Hiles

Check out this year’s MR340 through the eyes of racers and supporters tagging their Instagram event photos to #MR340

As midnight approached on the evening of Friday, Aug. 15, the St. Louis police clashed with protesters on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. Ten miles west, a much different scene, one defined by common interest and camaraderie, unfolded along the banks of the Missouri River in St. Charles. The clock striking midnight marked the 88-hour cutoff at the finish of the ninth annual Missouri American Water MR340.

Of the 228 boats that started paddling’s longest, nonstop ultramarathon three days prior in Kansas City, Mo., 189 made it through to the midnight finish. The Seattle-based men’s tandem team of Dave and Will Anderson clocked the fastest time. The duo completed the 340-mile course that winds east across the entire state of Missouri in 37 hours, 19 minutes.

Race Director Scott Mansker noted that although the race was rescheduled from mid-July due to high water, the event went smoothly. Racers adjusted to cooler temperatures and foggy conditions, with Masker adding that “paddlers took care of themselves and each other.” Despite cold nights, race organizers were not called on to assist fatigued racers. This year, rather, it was the racers who turned into chance rescuers. On August 13 during the second night of nonstop paddling, racers paddling by the Osage River confluence reacted to the panicked cries of a fisherman who had become separated from his boat while attempting to set trotlines in the middle of the night.

Daniel Hall and Ian Straub, paddling in the men’s tandem division, ushered the near-drowning man toward shore as Straub threw the man his PFD.

“They crossed the river as fast as they could to answer a call for help, risked capsizing to get a floundering man to shore, and then held their boat against the jagged rocks and the current to be sure he made it to safety,” noted Karin Thomas, a event safety boat captain who was camping on a nearby island and responded with her crew to get the shirtless, shoeless man back to his camp. “This is heroic, and it’s this kind of reaction that contributes to a strong racing community. Our rescue would definitely have been more difficult without their rescue, and I am grateful … hopefully this is the beginning of a much better story for him, rather than the end of a rescue story for us.”

Beyond the rescue, Mansker reiterated the paddlers’ preparedness for the grueling race (Click HERE to read a first-hand account), dressing for cooler conditions, keeping “calories going in,” and making judicious choices when conditions turned to low-visibility, “using fog layovers for catching much needed sleep.”

Click HERE to read more about the race and view full results.

Check out a time-lapse of this year’s race across Missouri, from start to finish over 56 hours and 340 miles by Team Donut and Maple Syrup (Hogan Haake and Jojo Newbold)

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  • Dan Tilling

    Looks like fun and exhaustion mixed together. I’ve been thinking about heading up to the Jeff City area and kayaking on the Missouri if there is some place to drop in.

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