Hogan and his brother Henry have accepted the challenge – they are racing in the Missouri River 340 river race. About 150 other canoes and kayaks are racing with them to see who can make it from Kansas City (where the Kansas River meets the Missouri) to Frontier Park in St. Charles.
The race began at 8am on Tuesday, July 15th. All racers must be in St. Charles by Saturday at noon to finish, but Hogan and Henry are hoping to finish Friday night. There are several checkpoints along the way, as well as a few places where Hogan and Henry will meet up with their ground crew (their dad). Visit here often over the next couple of days to see how they are progressing.
Update 1: Tuesday, July 15, 9:20 pm
The boys floated in to the checkpoint at Waverly in true Haake fashion – they came in backwards! I suppose this means that their spirits are high and they are feeling good about their time (keeping up a 6mph pace). They are planning to spend the night on Hills Island (between the Waverly and Miami checkpoints) and will be back at it early tomorrow!
Update 2: Tuesday, July 15, 11:24 pm
Hogan called at 11:15 pm – they made it safely to Hills Island, almost right on schedule. Good night!!
Update 3: Wednesday, July 16, 12:20 pm
They’ve past the 100 mile mark!! Hogan and Henry made it to the Miami checkpoint this morning about an hour behind schedule (see the chart of their progress below). I don’t know if they ‘slept in’ (to 6:30) or slowed down – maybe both. Their schedule for the afternoon includes a 3-hour break at the Glasgow checkpoint for resting or catching up, so hopefully they will be back on track later today.
Update 4: Wednesday, July 16, 7:02 pm
Hogan called at 5:50 – our first direct contact with the paddlers or their crew today. Cell phone reception out there is very spotty at best. They sound like they are in great spirits after a rough start this morning (Ibuprofen worked wonders). They slept an extra hour, accounting for the late time this morning. They were still later than planned getting to the Glasgow checkpoint, but they are actually about an hour ahead of the schedule we set because they did not take a break. They were scheduled to leave Glasgow at 7 pm, but got out at 5:30. They are not leading the pack, but are also not bringing up the rear. Several competitors who are still in the race had not yet reached the checkpoint by the time Henry and Hogan were back on the water. Great job, guys!!!
Update 5: Wednesday, July 16, 11:20 pm
The brothers have met up with their dad at Franklin Island for the night. This puts them past the half-way point! They sound enthusiastic, but sore. I read your many e-mails of support to him – they appreciate your thoughts and good wishes. We just got off the phone about 5 minutes ago, but they are probably asleep already…sweet dreams of victory!
Update 6: Thursday, July 17, 9:28 am
After a good night’s sleep, they are off again! Hogan and Henry put in to the river at 6:00, already an hour ahead of schedule. They were up early laughing and joking, mostly about their favorite fictional drink, Brondo (from the movie Idiocracy). I imagine that they will pick up the pace this morning – their dad promised them pizza for lunch!
Update 7: Thursday, July 17, 9:49 pm
Both Henry and Hogan sounded good on the phone earlier this evening at the Jefferson City checkpoint. They continue to make good time and may even speed up now that they have passed the Osage River. Word is that the extra flow coming to the Missouri River out of the Osage from the Lake of the Ozarks is giving a bit of a speed boost. The original plan for this evening was to bed down on a sandbar about 14 miles upstream of the Hermann checkpoint. Based on their experience of sandbar camping a couple of nights ago, it seems they’d rather paddle longer and get to a slightly less sandy campsite at Hermann, or even continue to paddle into the night. So, while they’ve kept to the schedule pretty well so far, they may be well ahead by the time they put in Friday morning. Just in case anyone in the St. Louis area is hoping to meet them at the finish line in Frontier Park, check back tomorrow for an ETA.
Update 8: Friday, July 18, 9:30 am
Sean and Jennifer (friends who live in Jefferson City) had a chance to catch up with Hogan and Henry at Mokane. I hope to get some photos from them to post soon. As expected, the guys continued on to Hermann and made it in just before 12:30. Dan had the tent ready and waiting, so they were asleep within about 15 minutes of landfall. They were among about 30 or so boats that spent the night at Hermann, but by the time they left, there were only about 8 other boats left. Both last night and this morning, they have stayed in company with other boats, making the last push that much easier. They arrived in New Haven moments ago while I was on the phone with Dan, putting them a good hour and a half ahead of schedule. The Osage River has provided the hoped-for speed boost, as well as making the water relatively clear – well, clear compared to what they had before… Hannah, the kids, and I will try to meet up with them at Weldon Spring at around 4 pm, and then head on to the finish line at Frontier Park. Unless they pick up lots of speed or slow their pace, they will probably be arriving to a hero’s welcome in St. Charles – they will finish right in the middle of the awards ceremony!
Update 9: Friday, July 18, 11:38 am
Henry and Hogan just passed Washington (see the photos below from a web-cam near the ramp). They are now about 2 hours ahead of schedule. I expect them in Weldon Spring by about 2:30, which gets them to the finish line right about 5:30. Wouldn’t you know it, that is just the time that the dinner is supposed to start. I guess they figured that since racers eat free, they’d better get there in time for the grub! There most likely will be no further updates until after 8 pm, maybe not till tomorrow morning, but the next update should include photos of their journey and their victory!
Update 10: Friday, July 18, 12:20 pm
OK, I was wrong – but this will REALLY be the last update before the race ends… But I had to let you know that Hogan was mentioned in a local news article in the Webster-Kirkwood Times. It’s not much, but the recognition is nice…
FINAL UPDATE: Saturday, July 19, 9:12 am
They made it!! After 82 hours and 3 minutes, at 6:03 pm on Friday, the Unclaimed Idiots (their team name) completed the Missouri River 340 race – more than 2 hours ahead of schedule and with almost 18 hours left in the available race time! They had a great time and might consider going again, though that is a bit up in the air. If they do go again, there are many things they would do differently, mostly involving larger hats, sunscreen lip balm, and a better canoe. Not that our canoe is bad, but it was a little like using a Huffy bike to go on BAK (Bike Across Kansas), something you can ask Dan about sometime – like father, like son! There are several new photos below, with more to add later, but the complete photo album without commentary will soon be available here (not active yet…). I expect that Hogan will have more to add in the coming days. His log may be found at to the bottom of the page.
Map of the river
Danelle was kind enough to spend a large portion of her free time creating the map that I used to navigate the river. I also used the GPS to assist. The map includes driving directions to checkpoints. I hope this map helps out somebody else in their preparation for the race.
|Location||River Mile||Distance Traveled||Suggested Time (at 6mph)||Actual Time|
|Kaw Point||367.4||0 mi||8:00 am||They’re off!!|
|La Benite||352.7||15 mi||10:30 am||—|
|Fort Osage||337.3||30 mi||1:00 pm||12:40 – 1:00 pm|
|Lexington||316.5||50 mi||4:30 pm||4:25 – 4:50 pm|
|Waverly||293.7||73 mi||8:45 pm||8:35 – 9:00 pm|
|Miami||262.8||105 mi||9:10 am||10:20 – 10:35 am|
|Glasgow||226.1||141 mi||3:15 pm||5:00 – 5:32 pm|
|Franklin Island||195.3||172 mi||11:30 pm||11:00 pm – 6:00 am|
|Taylor’s Landing||185.1||182 mi||8:45 am||—|
|Cooper’s Landing||170.4||197 mi||11:10 am||10:53 – 11:15 am|
|Marion||158.0||209 mi||2:00 pm||—|
|Noreen (Jeff. City)||144.0||223 mi||4:30 pm||3:45 – 4:12 pm|
|Mokane||124.6||243 mi||7:40 pm||8:20 – 8:45 pm|
|Chamois||117.9||250 mi||8:45 pm||—|
|Hermann||97.7||269 mi||8:20 am||12:27 – 6:45 am|
|New Haven||81.4||285 mi||11:00 am||9:25 am|
|Washington||68.3||299 mi||1:20 pm||11:28 am|
|Daniel Boone||55.5||311 mi||4:10 pm||—|
|Weldon Spring||48.4||318 mi||5:20 pm||2:41 – 3:08|
|St. Charles – FINISH!!||28.4||338 mi||8:40 pm||6:03 pm|
(Bold locations are official race checkpoints. Due to safety concerns, the Washington checkpoint was moved to Weldon Spring.)
DAY 1: Kaw Point to Lexington:
We put in the Kaw around 6:45am and found a nice place near the shore to hang out. This was Henry and my first time ever in a big river! We spent most of that hour talking to different people in the race. The typical conversation started with where you were from and what you did for a living. We checked out the competition’s canoes and kayaks. There were two 6-man teams that put in and did some warm ups. Their precision was amazing along with their boats. I’m sure that I could personally be responsible for capsizing one of those 6 man boats if I was in them. They were very narrow and low to the water.
During the count down from 10 to the cannon going off for the start of the race, my pulse jumped. I could tell that Henry was ready, too. From everything I had read, the pack would be together the first 50 miles and the first checkpoint would be chaos. Henry and I opted to start in the back and figured we would slowly pick people off one at a time. We paddled faster than our planned pace at the start. There were a few collisions and waiting for another boat to get away so we could get our paddles in the water. Slowly, we found our place and got in line with all the other boats, finding the current. I was amazed at the variety of boats and how they all seemed faster than ours. One guy sticks out in detail. He was in a kayak with a rudder, but using a canoe paddle. He went nuts on one side for a while, then switched to the other pulling away from us the whole time (we never did see him again). After the first turn, I could tell we were in trouble, we could hardly see the lead boat ahead of us. There were still a fair number of boats behind us, so it didn’t matter too much.
Coming up on our first of 28 bridges in the race was exciting. We had an amazing view of downtown Kansas City just after sunrise distracting us. Our distraction ended quickly as we realized that our boat was heading alarmingly fast to the pylon of the bridge. We were about to crash!!! Henry and I dug in hard and barly missed the bridge. That bumped up our collective pulse much faster. Talk about a close lesson on river currents. Most of the rest of this leg was a blur with us trying to stay behind the boats that looked like they knew what they were doing.
DAY 1: Lexington to Waverly:
We were 5 minutes ahead of schedule at the first checkpoint. It was nice to see that we were following our plan. The checkpoint was busy, but it wasn’t too difficult to find a volunteer to check in. Dad met us at the shore. He brought us our food, only he brought the bag we packed with dinner and breakfast. It was supposed to be 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each. Instead, we ate our MRE meals cold so we could get going quick. We left instructions for dad on bringing the half empty bag back at the Waverly checkpoint for breakfast, but also getting us some dinner food. Our 25 minutes at this checkpoint seems long, but was needed to stretch our legs after a long morning/afternoon on the river.
“BARGE” I said alarmingly to Henry on our way to Waverly. Our first of the trip. We have heard crazy things about barges and how they mess up the water for about 20 minutes after they pass. As quickly as possible, Henry and I headed for the nearest of the rarely visible wing dikes nearby. The current was too strong to take it at the front, so we passed it on the outside and tucked in after the end and paddled against the current to get safely behind and wait it out. Two crazy people kept going right down the river towards the barge. Another nearby paddlest took the safe road with us and took shelter. After about 3 minutes, we realized that the barge had parked and was tying off at the far shore of the river. Henry and I felt disappointed that the two boats that kept going got a huge distance advantage on us while we played it safe. We carefully passed the sand dredge operation that the barge was servicing and moved on. This is where we met an inspirational fellow named Richard. Richard had to be somewhere in his 60’s we’re guessing. He entered as a solo participant. He sat in the middle of the river in his white kayak. He barely seemed to dip his paddle in the water, but just kept moving. We would surge ahead of him and then be passed 5 minutes later when we were tired and he just kept going. we couldn’t seem to find the current. We went back out to the middle to talk to him. It was his second year in the race. Last year he finished in 99 hours, but he did finish. Following his lead, we stuck to the middle of the river and just paddled.
DAY 1: Waverly to Hills Island:
We left Waverly at 8:35pm. This had us 35 minutes behind schedule. Henry and I knew that we were going to be spending some time on the river at night, but we didn’t want to do too much of that. There were enough boats around the first day that we wouldn’t be alone, but that didn’t make it a whole lot better. I should back up and mention here that the river has dikes in it to help channel the water for barges. The level of the Missouri had it above all the dikes to this point. This should make the navigation an easier thing, but it wasn’t. Because you couldn’t see where the actual rocks were, you didn’t know if you were going to bottom out on rocks as you went over a dike. Some of you might be wondering how we knew we were going over a dike if it was under water. Just before you reach a submerged dike, the water actually dips a noticeable amount. Then just as you go over the dike, the water starts to boil and look a little like white water. This situation is dangerous, because it is possible to capsize if you hit a submerged object just so…
So we weren’t too excited about paddling at night when we didn’t understand the river. Dikes ready to knock us over, it being dark, and us being tired. Having a full moon on a clear night did help us navigate, but the unknown was definitely on our minds!
We were in a group of 5 boats that night going along. They were all going to Miami, the next check point. We were considering going along with them, cause we just were not sure where this Hills Island was. The GPS showed it, but the shore was dark. Watching for lights, we found a fire going on the shore and some boat lights. Henry and I were exhausted and decided to sleep the night as our plan and fight the good fight the next day. We peeled off from the group and headed straight for blazing fire on shore. About 100 feet from shore, the boat bottomed out. We tried wiggling a bit and found that we were just stuck. The part we were planning on staying on was all sand. I tepidly lifted my foot out of the canoe and into the water to step to the sand coming out from the island. My foot started so sink in the sand with the current of the river pressing more sand around my sunken foot. I got my other foot in the water and just tried to gain my balance. This was nearly impossible as I felt like everything was still moving along with my feet sinking with every step. I must have looked drunk for about 15 seconds as I tried to figure out how to walk again in the sandy bottom. Henry did the same dance. It was somewhere around 11:30pm and we were dead tired also. As we pulled the boat to shore, the guys on it yelled to come over and enjoy the fire. When we were near enough to the shore that the boat stopped floating, that is where the fun began. As we tried to push and pull, our feet sank in the wet sand just as fast. We did eventually empty the boat enough to get it about 50 feet on the sand bar. We started to lay out camp with just our sleeping mats and bags. There was enough of a wind, that I quickly decided that the tent would be required in order to stay warm. So Henry and I opened the box on a tent I have owned for years and never used before. It took several fumbling tries before we got the tent up enough that there was room to sleep in it. We threw down our sleeping mats and bags and quickly fell asleep as we were. I did end up in my fleece bag that night quite cold and thankful for the tent.
DAY 2: Hills Island to Miami:
The alarm went off at 5:30am. I was in crazy pain. My shoulders felt like they were both on fire! I tossed and turned most of the night. I told Henry to reset the alarm for 6:30am and hoped it would go away. During the next hour, I came up with all the excuses I could think of. I knew that we had to quit the next time we saw my dad. We would call off the race. Henry was somewhat dehydrated and sun burnt despite the crazy amount of sun screen that we used. We got out of the tent and I could hardly stand to be alive. I was ashamed that I was going to withdraw. My pain was bad and I figured Henry’s to be much worse. I got to the dry bag and pulled out the bottle of Ibuprofen (IB from here on out). Henry and I each took down 4 of the pills and proceeded to slowly take down camp. We were the last boat to leave of about 5 that camped on the island.
We painfully pushed our boat from the shore back to the water and packed all the supplies back in. Of course we bottomed out just off shore where we would normally float. At this point there was current, so feet would sink for any pushing. I finally pulled us far enough from the shore that we could free float. We started our way to Miami where we planned to drop out. Along the way, as we woke up and the IB started to kick in, we started talking of pushing past Miami and dropping out at the end of the day. At least we could get a full day of canoeing in and we were feeling a bit better. I still had doubts about Henry’s health at this point and secretly hoped that we would miss the 12:00am deadline that would instantly disqualify us from the race. We pulled into Miami around 10:20am. We had 100 minutes to spare.
DAY 2: Miami to Glasgow:
Our 15 minute stop had us pumped and ready to go on to the next stop. We were behind our schedule and thought we could keep going. Quitting at the end of the day was still an option, but not necessary. Rumor had it that if you made it to Glasgow and continued, then you wouldn’t quit. At least that is what happened the 2 previous years of the race. Somewhere along the way we lost track of the current. There were not enough people to follow. The people beating us seemed to be right against the bank of the river. We were all over the place. The river started heading south into a fairly stiff head wind. I’m not sure what came over Henry and I, but we just started paddling harder to get through the tough time. We passed 3 or 4 boats in the headwind like they were standing still. During that time in the wind, we found Richard on the shore with his boat neatly tied up to trees sitting there enjoying the day.
We made a left hand turn pointing the boat more to the west after the long hard stretch and noticed a green canoe in front of us. I told Henry that it would be great if it was Tom and Wayne (Team Discovery). Tom lives about a mile from my house and we did some minor training together. They had passed us the first day, and I figured we would never see them again. Henry told me he would literally fall out of the boat if it was really Tom and Wayne. To our combined surprise, it was them. (Henry has still not fallen out of the boat for that.) We slowed down to talk with them for a while. In talking with Team Discovery, we found some very sad news. Richard had actually rolled his kayak twice and swam it to shore. They went over to help him and found that Richard was no longer able to continue the race. He was confused and tired. Tom and Wayne secured his canoe to shore and called in the race organizers with his position. Richard and his boat were picked up from the shore by a safety boat and taken to the nearest checkpoint where Richard sadly withdrew from the race.
We arrived at Glasgow around 5:00pm. A full 2 hours behind schedule. Danelle had factored in nearly 3 hours to hang out and relax here. Our resolve being higher had us working fast to get in and out of the stop. We skipped the showers and pushed on. Ahead of us was purported danger, and we were ready.
DAY 2: Glasgow to Franklin Island:
We left Glasgow with excitement because nobody has quit after this stop. We felt like we were actually going to finish this race. We didn’t figure we would have much time to spare, but it didn’t matter. Ahead of us on this stretch was the most dangerous and talked about stretch of the river, Lisbon Bottoms. Lisbon Bottoms has a “chute” which has a significant drop if you get sucked into it, or accidentally go that way. Its been said that its a mistake you only make once. The large curve around the island has significant dikes on each side of it. You must stay in the middle of the river if you want to make it through this section. Encountering a barge in this section of the river would certainly spell trouble.
So enough of the warnings, Henry and I took off to the Lisbon Bottoms with plenty of daylight. During the day Lisbon is beautiful. The water was very fast and boiled all around our boat. We had a whirl pool develop next to our boat that was about 5 feet across and 1 foot deep. It was crazy to see. When those things happen, you just tend to paddle faster. Between the currents and our anxiety, the GPS registered 10.7 MPH during this run. That was our highest speed of the whole trip. In fact, we never made it over 10mph outside of Lisbon Bottoms from what I remember. When we got to the end (the other side of the “chute” that makes it an island), we started to relax. In fact, we had nearly caught another boat in the process. We saw them cutting across an open section of water behind a dike. Henry and I laughed at the other boat figuring they would get stuck and we’d catch them since we were staying in the current. Unfortunately for us, we were not in the current. We were still in our stay in the middle of the river mode. We bottomed out fully in the sand. The current was running so quickly, that we were worried about tipping over. I also knew that if I got out of the canoe, my foot would sink faster than I could help. So Henry and I began a rather hilarious bouncing on our seats session to get out of the sand. We did finally get out.
Franklin Island is not really an island. Its just past the city of Boonville, Missouri. The GPS had it marked clearly, but if my dad hadn’t had his lamp on the boat ramp, I’m not sure we would have ever found it. It turns out that the two gentlemen from the first day that had the fire on the beach also used my dad’s light to find the boat ramp. It made us feel good to help them out for a turn, even it if was my dad’s handy work. We left the stern light on in the boat overnight to help any other boats find the stop.
DAY 3: Franklin Island to Cooper’s Landing:
This stretch of the race may have been the most important of all to me for a few reasons. The most important of all of these reasons is the I-70 bridge. One of the most amazing things to me since I started canoeing in the Missouri River is going under bridges. From missing the pylons to seeing the under-side support structure, this just fascinates me. So if you have been paying attention and following along, you’d have noted that we went under 9 bridges in the first few miles of the race in downtown Kansas City. While that was exciting, none of those bridges are very familiar to me. Every trip to and from Kansas City from St. Louis has me going over this bridge. Every time I go over, I look in awe at the river and the currents below. I notice the bluffs and hills right around that part of the highway. I use it to break up the long drive as something to look forward to. I also viewed the I-70 bridge the half way point in the trip personally. It is technically past the half way point, but who is counting… Anyway, I was shocked to see the underside of the bridge. I have seen a bunch up to this point, but I expected it to be bigger to hold all the traffic.
So just south of the I-70 bridge the bluffs really start to show off their stuff. The Katy trail runs right next to the river… Which gets me thinking about another adventure. I took several photos which I’ll put up in an album later. I did notice that this stretch of the river is very straight. It seemed as if the bridge was never going to leave our view. Every time I looked back, it was still there. With the bridge finally out of view, I started to focus on our next check point, Cooper’s Landing. I had heard stories after the check in about this place being something special. There was supposed to be a band playing at night. This was going to be a memorable place to stop and hang out for a bit. I was sure of it. It was memorable, but for very different reasons.
I should mention that Danelle did all the map work for me and put all the points into the GPS. All I had to do was train for the race (not enough) and actually race. By this time I started looking at my map more to know what was coming up. I saw the large red check mark noting the stop at Coopers Landing. The GPS showed us getting close, so Henry and I paddled to the right side of the river where the check was. As we got closer, we found that it just didn’t look right. Plus there were people and boats on the other side of the river. It seems that I misread the map. While the check mark was on the right of the river, the lightning bolt was on the left side of the river. So Henry and I had to start paddling like mad to make sure we got to the correct side of the river. we didn’t want to miss the check point (which included lunch from dad). The ramp was slightly confusing to me, but we did figure out where exactly to go. The current was very strong and we had to paddle with all our might to make it.
Cooper’s Landing is not what I expected. I said that already, but I”m saying it again. It’s a stop in the middle of nowhere with food and some supplies. It beats no stop, but I pictured more of a marina setting. They were supposed to have BBQ there, but we opted for PB&J; to make the stop quicker as the BBQ wasn’t ready. I did get to chase a goose around while I ate. Even got close enough to pet it, but I’m sure that the bird didn’t like it. The best part about this stop, is that we got there early, and left with a 45 minute cushion from our planned schedule.
DAY 3: Cooper’s Landing to Noreen (Jeff. City):
So, it’s day 3 and we should be tired. I’m stoked and feeling stronger each day. I’m starting to get into race mode. Getting ahead of our schedule for the first time and feeling like we would be ahead from now on felt good. This stretch of the trip seems to be a total blank for me. Probably just good old fashioned paddling. Ok, and I’m sure that Henry and I were still making jokes about Brawndo.
DAY 3: Noreen (Jeff. City) to Mokane:
I gave dad a call when we were about 45 minutes out from Jeff City. He told us he was getting pizza for lunch and I wanted to make sure he had time to get it. Did I mention that I love pizza! Its the only thing on my food pyramid. So we were stoked because we got to Jeff City 45 minutes before we were scheduled to get there. As promised, dad had a large Pizza Hut pizza waiting for us. Half pepperoni and half cheese. I quickly wolfed down my half of the pizza along with “Brawndo”. Henry ate 3 of his 4 pieces before he was too full. So he took a slice for the road. In less than a half hour, were ready to get moving again. Danelle had planned for Sean and Jennifer (plus kiddos) to meet us in Jeff City since they live there, but we left a full hour before they were ready.
Pulling into Mokane for a quick stop, were were starting to slow down again. We took a longer stop because Sean and Jennifer did make it out to see us. It was great to see good friends. I played quickly with the kids. Sean, Henry, and I then proceeded to place glow sticks around the lip of the canoe in preparation for our night float. We used blue glow sticks. They had a nice effect in the dark, but not as bright as we would have preferred. Coming into Mokane, we met up with Chris and Carl (the two guys with a fire on Hills Island from the first night). They had a red Mad River Canoe and mine was tan/brown and also a Mad River Canoe. Dad told me later that around this point, the four of us started to become known as the Mad River Boys. Carl and Chris heard that Henry and I were planning to float all the way to Hermann that night. They were already floating with another boat, but that one wasn’t going as far that night. So the asked if we would mind them joining us on the trip that night. We always appreciate the extra help at night and gladly accepted their company.
DAY 3: Mokane to Hermann:
While the post says “day 3” this is more like night… We did most of this float in the dark. We spent a bunch of time laughing and talking to the guys. They knew their river navigation much better than Henry and I, so we learned about switch backs. If we would read the signs on the river on the first day, it would have helped us stay in the current much better. Our two boats floated together through the night, never parting more than 300 feet or so. The Hermann bridge was in sight for a very long time before we finally made it to the city and the ramp. We checked in around 12:30, crazy tired. We did cheer up from the sheer volume of boats that were at the ramp. We caught up to a whole bunch of people. There were probably 20 some boats there. Dad had already set up the tent for us, so all we had to do was crash. This sounds like an easy task if you are as tired as we are, but it wasn’t easy. I’d spent all day in the canoe and my legs felt funny. So when I got out of the canoe, all of the ground beneath me was still moving. This caused me to walk funny and lose my balance fairly easily. Ok, so if I would have just laid down, I could have gone to sleep. One more thing I forgot to mention – the tent was pitched about 100 feet from a very active set of train tracks. Henry was out before the first train passed us, but it took me 2 ground thumping, horn blowing-to-wake-up-the-dead trains to fall asleep myself.
DAY 4: Hermann to Weldon Springs:
I awoke at 5:50 to my alarm after it had been going off for 20 minutes. I guess its volume didn’t compare to the trains horns that my brain decided to start tuning out. I started getting excited cause it was the last day and it still was a race. So I started trying to get Henry to wake up. He didn’t want to move and it took several tries. I went down to the boat ramp and my heart sank a little. Most of the boats that were there the night before were already long on their way to the finish line. No matter, there were still boats there to beat and 3 that hadn’t made it to the check point yet. So I started getting Henry awake and ready for the day. He took his morning IB to settle his muscles and an Aleve. We started the morning with our friends. I was fully intending to race to the finish. Hoping to leave them in the dust, but waiting for Henry to wake up.
While the Mad River Boys floated near each other, they told us that if we wanted to go faster, we should do it. I used that as my escape and started to paddle faster. Henry obliged me for a bit, but we never got too much farther in front of them. Finally they caught up and we decided to just float in together. We decided that we would make it in time for dinner based on our current speed. We were always thinking about food! The stretch to Weldon Springs was the longest stretch without a checkpoint. It was supposed to be Washington, but the ramp faced up-river and the current was too strong to consider it.
Some point after Washington, Carl and Chris wanted to stop and stretch their legs. I would have kept going, but I also didn’t mind the stop. So we found a nice bank that would let us get out and walk on a 35 degree angle upon rocks to stretch out. I’m not complaining because this is where I became amazed. I had spent so much time just getting in and out as fast as possible. I stopped to look at and across the river and just admire it for what it was. The speed of the current was almost alarming from the shore. Yet out on the water it seems slow and peaceful. I was very thankful for this sanity check.
DAY 4: Weldon Springs to St. Charles:
The time table above shows us spending some time in Weldon Springs, but I hardly remember the stop. I was just excited to be that close to the finish of the race. The last stretch was painful with Henry hurting quite a bit. I encouraged him to just stow his paddle and hang out till the very end. He didn’t stow his paddle, but he did take some time to just relax. The Mad River Boys pulled into St. Charles at the same time so we could be awarded a tie in our time. We had mutual respect for each other and had needed each other more than we may have realized at different points. My anxiety to pass them and get a better time earlier in the day evolved to many emotions. Mostly respect for finishing in a tie with such great guys and desire to do better…
There was a bunch of family at the finish line. I remember my inlaws being there. Normally I am a family man and do my part to help out with the kids. I did a little, but mostly I felt beat. I felt like a zombie going through the food line. Sitting down on the ground outside the boat house, I wolfed down my food in a trance. I stayed for part of the awards ceremony, but I just didn’t have much mental capacity. It took me a few days to catch up on my sleep.
Some thoughts and conclusions:
I want to start off by saying that I should have completed this log much sooner after the race. It has now been 10 days since the race. Many thoughts are lost and some are too jumbled to write down coherently. I feel more focused in my life right now. I continually think about the ways in which I could have been a better competitor in the race. A better boat, different paddles, better training. I had hoped to finish the race in 80 hours or less and came in 2 hours and 3 minutes short. This means that I’ll want to try again for sure. I’m currently of the mind set that I need to make my own canoe with a rudder. I don’t think I would want to do the race again without a boat that had a rudder. I would want a strong flashlight (mag light worked for the Mad River Boys) to spot things at night. I would want better access to my map and a way to quickly re-fill my water bottle.
So, I’m not sure when I’ll do it again, depending on my vacation schedule, but you can bet that I’ll be out there again to beat my best time…
Henry and I tried to touch too many boueys with our paddles.
Our first 340 and we had a plane land next to us in the river!
We learned that you can never put on enough sun screen. After a while, it won’t even correctly apply.
My youngest daughter, Sonora, trying out the seat at the finish line.
The early finish line banner. I should probably never shave my head again!