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Floating Dreams on 340 Miles of River

by Kurt Hoehne

Our readers, particularly those who are captivated by this year’s (and next year’s!) R2AK, might be fascinated by this MR340 race and the beautiful Floating Dreams film shown here. There are a whole lot of differences between the R2AK and MR340, but great stories come from each. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the MR340 is the number of competitors, 700!

Are there any river races similar to the MR340 here in the Pacific Northwest? Let us know, and we’ll get them online and on our calendar.

In the meantime, here’s a description of the MR340 from the rivermiles.com website:


Imagine a race across the entire state of Missouri, just you and your boat thrown against 340 miles of wind, heat, bugs and rain. This ain’t no mama’s boy float trip. This race promises to test your mettle from the first stroke in Kansas City to the last gasp in St. Charles. Just entering it will impress your friends. Finishing it will astound them… and winning it? Well, you always thought you were sort of a legend anyway, didn’t you? It’s time to prove it.

The Missouri 340 is an endurance race across the state of Missouri. Competitors will start in Kansas City and finish, some of them anyway, in St. Charles. With numerous towns and hamlets, the course offers plenty of opportunity for resupply while enroute. The Missouri River is also incredibly scenic and isolated in some stretches, with wildlife and beautiful vistas to rival any river in North America. But if you’re trying to win this race, you won’t have time to enjoy any of it.

Participants are allowed exactly 88 hours to complete the course. There are nine checkpoints along the route where paddlers are required to sign in and sign out. Cutoff times will be associated with these checkpoints based on the 88 hour pace. Failure to miss two consecutive deadlines is grounds for disqualification. To finish this race in 88 hours is a huge accomplishment. Only 2/3 of the teams were able to do that last year.

There are no dams, locks or portages on this stretch of the Missouri. You could, conceivably, finish this race without ever having left your boat. (We don’t recommend it.) This doesn’t mean that the race is without danger. Any time you put yourself on the water, especially moving water, you assume a certain amount of risk. The Missouri 340 course is all on Class I water. The current is about 3 mph and there are no rapids. The biggest hazard to paddlers would be motorboats, mostly fisherman, and the occasional towboat pushing barges. In river obstacles would include wing dikes, buoys and bridge pilings.

Thanks to the United States Coast Guard, the river is marked over the entire course with mileage and channel markers. It is almost impossible not to know, within a mile or less, your exact location. At the pre-race meeting and safety check, racers will be briefed on how to read these markers, how to handle a tow and barge passage and what constitutes public property on the river. Paddlers will also be provided with a racing guide that includes available services in towns, emergency phone numbers, etc.

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