MR340 Training in full swing

Something from a little different topic for this post – Kayaking!

Later this summer I’ll be doing the MR340.  If you’re not familiar with the MR340 you can read more about it at the Rivermiles website. This year will be the 12th year this race has run.  It spans from Kaw Point in Kansas City, MO to Frontier Park in St. Charles, MO and must be completed in less than 88 hours.

So, I’ve spent the better part of the last few months preparing for this.  For starters, I’m doing this in a recreational kayak.  The winners of this will be in long, skinny racing kayaks.  For me, this is just about the challenge and overcoming the obstacles the river is going to put in front of me.  Part of this training included a recent solo trial run from Hermann MO to Frontier Park since it was relatively close and I had a rare opportunity to get out and give it a shot.  Other training trips have just been in the range of 5 to 22 miles but this was a whopping 75 miles.

Despite the time it took, I’m extremely glad I got out there.  I needed to test everything I had from the boat and paddle itself, on a bigger river, all the way to nutrition and technical gear.  Will my battery pack last the race?  How about the action camera I have?  How’s the boat going to handle and how comfortable will it be?  Which apps are best for navigation and do they work with little to no cell-signal.  I was pretty pleased with all of my choices and came back with some expected, and some unexpected lessons.

Some of the expected lessons

  • A 12 foot kayak may track well on smaller creeks and rivers but the swells and current of the Missouri push me around with ease
  • Most of the snacks I brought worked well enough to keep me going without causing any nausea
  • River current was faster than the “average” speed I’ve seen tossed about by unofficial sources.  It was more consistent with USCG estimates between 4 – 7 mph.
  • I won’t be spending my way to into keeping all my electronics running.  I’ll have to cut usage as much as possible so I can survive on the three or four battery packs I own.
  • Paddling 75 miles alone is a little intimidating.  It would have also been a lot more fun if someone else would have come along to help break up some of the boring moments.
  • Staying in the channel will be critical to keeping a finishing pace.
  • I was carrying more food and water than I’ll need.  I’ve got a better idea now so I can shed several pounds of weight.

On the unexpected side of things

  • Drinking Water – I got sick of drinking plain old water really quick.  Going to have to pick up some easy to transport substitute to add to it like Mio or other powder with electrolytes.  I may not be a plant, but I still need electrolytes and something that will mutilate my thirst!
  • I didn’t get why so many capsize near the start.  After shooting into the Missouri from the Gasconade River I understand now.  There was much more current pushing me around that could easily cause collisions at the start of the race.
  • You can hear water rushing over the wing dikes from a half-mile away or further.
  • USCG hasn’t recovered and/or replaced all of the buoy navigation markers yet.  Many were out of channel, on the banks, and even in the woods above the top of the bank.
  • I didn’t come across a barge then entire trip.  I had hoped to so I could experience the wake.
  • It’s easy to “miss a spot” when applying spray on sun-screen.  I may switch back over to liquid sunscreen.
  • The retired USCG Hydrofoil Aries (PHM-5) was docked in the Gasconade.  That’s some really interesting history behind the Pegasus class ships that I learned about after I got back.  I’m really glad it was still there.

I made a video from the trip.  It’s only about six minutes so it’s easy to watch.  It’s really a fast collection of stills but it covers nearly the entire 75 mile trip.

As of mid-week I’ve already made adjustments to my electronics.  My Garmin 62s is now loaded with river and channel maps so I can use it instead of the Android app I was using to keep in the channel.  I’ll still use the Android app, MR340 ProPaddler, but I won’t have to keep the screen on, constantly chewing my battery up.  I may also see about making a case for my smaller action camera which isn’t waterproof since it’ll be more energy efficient than my older Drift HD Ghost action cam.


Well, that’s all I feel like cramming in a single post today.  Perhaps as I do some more training and experiment with my camera and electronics I’ll post some more info.  After all, I’ve been 3d printing some pretty cool stuff to mount on the kayak.  That’ll be in a separate post to come at a later date.