Race To The Dome is an annual canoe and kayak race benefiting and run by Missouri River Relief. Its a great time to see lots of local paddlers and friends on the river. In order to get to the race on time, JoJo and Andy got to my house shortly after 4am for the drive out. The plan was to get to the start and drop off the boats and gear. Then I would drive to the finish (Noreen Access) in Jeff City for a shuttle back to the start.
As we approached the access point, fog from the river rolled in thick. We ended up driving very slow as visibility was probably 100 feet. When we got to the river, we unloaded much faster than normal for us. It was very cold, so I left Andy with my rain suit pants to help keep him warm and headed out. With Google as my navigator, I had a spirited solo drive in and out of fog. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Here are some photos of the cold morning with the fog already lifting.
The bus ride was nice (something you don’t hear often). I got to know several local competitors better. One gentleman is an expat from Great Brittan that has a dock repair company at Lake of The Ozarks. He told many stories of diving year round that surprised me.
Once we arrived, the boat was mostly prepared as JoJo had lots of time waiting for me. We competed in the Aluminum mixed division going 15.6 miles on the Missouri River. It wasn’t long till the race started. It was tough competition, but we all had similar boats. This race was more about the paddlers than the gear!
To avoid congestion, the start was split in two waves. the first wave was for tandems and teams. The first five miles of this race were nearly a sprint with a bunch of vying for the front of the pack. At one point during this time, we were in the very front of our heat, but we couldn’t hold onto this position. We eventually finished third in our division, only 5 minutes off the winner. It is worth noting that I didn’t think we had a chance to win as Tracy Lynn Martin was in the winning tandem boat. If you have not heard of her, you should look her up.
After the race, we hung out for lunch and to talk with many of our paddling friends! Due to the long day, we didn’t stay into the evening. They were having a memorial for Joe Wilson. Noreen access is often called “Wilson’s Serenity Point” due to Joe Wilson. He spent most of his free time at this access improving it and greeting anybody that would stop to chat. He had recently died.
The bridge from earlier with no fog.
Andy and JoJo Newbold (my race partner) celebrating a great finish.
I was out unicycling and I got a call from JoJo, “The River Wife”. I was stopped at an intersection and picked up the call to see what she wanted. She mentioned a paddling race coming up in a few days and wondered if I was interested in it. I told I would find out and get back to her. I called Danelle (my actual wife) and got her blessing that we didn’t have anything else going on that Saturday. So I called JoJo back and confirmed that we would be racing.
JoJo had prior commitments and didn’t get much sleep the night before. We headed out early going south on I-44 from St. Louis to the Rolla area for the race. “The Gas” is a 20 mile race held on the Gasconade river. JoJo got a shuttle driver for us so the logistics were perfect for us!
The start of the race was quite hectic. All the boats shot out at full speed all headed for a narrow gap and a lead over the others. We held up just a bit to avoid the traffic jam. Two boats in front of us capsized and we were just about to ram one to make a third and possibly fourth (us) when I had a serious pull backwards on my paddle to maneuver us out of the way. We got a decent advantage from the boats that flipped and spun out and quite an excitement.
Our boat and skills lend towards serious long term paddling, so we didn’t finish that well next to the skinny race boats, but we had a fantastic time!
The Sunset Race Series is a monthly paddle race that is held on the second Thursday of each month. Its a chance to compete against local paddlers in a informal setting. We always go out afterwards for food and beer to discuss the event. This paddle was going to be something special. To kick off the summer paddling season, we decided to make this one a bit longer. It was to be from Route 66 to the access between 141 and Greentree park, approximately 11.5 miles downstream. We planned extra time for this float to ensure that we could all finish.
—————————Stolen from Dan Prater’s recap of the race ———————-
-Wenonah Minnesota 3 paddled in tandem. 3 person kevlar canoe, 20′ long, only about 50 pounds. Light and super fast http://www.wenonah.com/products/template/product_detail.php?IID=41 -Epic 18x sea kayak. Built on the same hull as the epic v8 surfski, this is the fastest touring kayak there is. only yak faster is sprint k1 http://www.epickayaks.com/products/touringkayaks/18x -Think Evolution surfski. 20′ long, needle thin, and only 30 lbs. http://www.thinkkayaks.com/think-evo.html -Hobie adventure with peddle drive and turbo fins. heavy (60 ish lbs) stable fishing yak, but an efficient hull and an amazing peddle drive that is more powerful than a paddle could ever be. dont be fooled by the look, these boats can cruise. A couple of years ago this boat was top 10 in a 340 mile race against unlimited style racing boats for the first 200 miles before injury caused a dnf. http://www.hobiecat.com/kayaks/mirage/adventure/ -OC2. very narrow canoe with outrigger used in ocean racing. Custom built for distance racing on flatwater this boat is 27 feet!! and looks like a surfski with a small outrigger. -whitewater sprint k1. 15 ish feet, fiberglass, a couple years old but a fast boat. Winner of many sunset races. Wilderness systems cape horn. 15′ plastic, 55 lbs. my boat thats posted all over here lol
We meet about 530. When we get to the boat ramp where we finish to shuttle, the fire dept has a few trucks there and they are launching their rescue boat to head upstream to look for a missng person. Thats not a good thing. as we shuttled upstream we could see the helicopters in the distance hovering over the river searching. Knowing that we would be paddling directly through that part of the river was a little weird. After the short shuttle and getting everyone launched we started the race 630 ish.
to my amazement, im out front, and about 500 yds downstream the river goes under the highway and there is maybe 12′ of usable space in the channel because the water was low, the river narrows and speeds up around the bridge pilings. Now myself, the epic 18 and the tandem canoe are 3 wide through here, and the other boats are in hot pursuit a couple feet back. The canoe ramps a part of the submerged logjam on the bridge piling, boats collide, everyone laughs and says sorry, all the while no one loses a stroke. No mercy!
The canoe, surfski and epic start pulling away immediately and are walking away. about 1.5 miles into it the k1 passes me. Cool, he is usually out front from start to finish, and this guy always beats me. He is my arch nemesis, an accomplished racer in a faster lighter boat. I feel good i held him off this long. Then the hobie and oc2 go by about 2.5 miles. its all about hull speed, and im in the shortest slowest boat.
the oc2 doesnt gain much ground, and can keep them within a couple hundred yards. paddle paddle paddle. 4 miles in i catch the oc2, we are dead even for a couple miles. They have that outrigger that sticks several feet off the side of the boat, i dont. I take a line that goes through some partially submerged trees. They ahve to take the safe line a little wider, and i edge them out. I dont dare take a drink or turn around to look because I can hear them talking and their paddle splash is close. I start walking away from them. pretty soon i cant hear them. I look and they are several hundred yards back.
its past sunset and getting dark fast. we are coming up to the park where the guy was missing. they were just taking the rescue boat out and leaving at dark when we passed. he didnt make it. I havent seen any paddlers for a couple miles, they are too far ahead i cant see them around the bends. Just after dark, in the reflections off the water i see another racer. a kayaker… sweet. I reel him in and see its my arch nemesis in the k1. he has been ahead and out of sight for a long time. I say ‘no way i reeled you in, is your paddle broken?’ and he says nope, running out of steam. Im still paddle paddle paddle as hard as i have been the whole time and pretty soon i cant hear him behind me. about 9-10 miles in now, totally dark.
i get to the boat ramp 15 min after the first place canoe, second place epic. 8 minutes behind 3rd place hobie, 3 minutes in front of the k1 and the oc2 comes in 8 minutes after him. The surfski had a rudder issue and had to pull out a mile from the end. 13 miles total, and i paddled this stretch faster than I ever have at that water level. Not only that, but i flat out smoked a 27′ ultralight custom racing canoe, and I beat my arch nemesis. Not only did i beat him for the first time ever, i reeled him in and beat him with a slower boat because i was better conditioned. yeah buddy.
—————————Stolen from Dan Prater’s recap of the race ———————-
Race for the rivers is an annual canoe race/event benefiting the Greenway Network. They host two canoe/kayak races and a bike race during the event. At the end of the race, there is a festival. It focuses on environmental sustainability and other earthy things. This year, I was slated to participate in the 20 mile race in a dragon boat with 10 other people. I was really looking forward to this boat. I did a practice run and the boat was extremely fast.
Unfortunately for myself and the rest of the racers, the canoe race was cancelled due to the river being above flood stage. They still had the biking events and the festival. While I was sad that we weren’t racing, the family still went out to the festival and enjoyed what they had prepared.
The kids played with the pirates that had a spot at the event. Corvin tried his hand at sword fighting! This is a great event that we plan on being part of for many years to come.
Paddling down the river last week in a canoe race, I was trying to chase down the boat in front of me. I was in my canoe paddling it in the middle seat with a kayak paddle. In front of me was a dad and his 8th grade daughter. They were in a two person kayak that was not built for speed. Early in the race, they got in front of me and took a sizable lead. I decided that I would not let them beat me. I systematically started a slightly stronger paddle stroke and a faster cadence. Over the course of about 3 miles on the water, I was within about 10 boat lengths. During this time where I was frantically paddling to catch up, the dad was paddling a consistent effort but was loosing ground. However, when the young girl (8th grade) started paddling, they would quickly pull away from my boat.
This story may not sound like much, but it was quite moving to me. The young girl did not appear to have much to contribute to the paddling power of the boat she was in. When she did apply what she had to offer, it made the difference between them loosing the race to me and winning by a fair margin. I have looked at several situations different after this experience. A tiny amount of “extra” effort in many situations will make all the difference. Your success is defined only be the amount of effort you put into it!