Well, the MR340 has come and gone and it has totally changed my life just like all the veterans said it would. The friends I seen and the new ones I met will forever be in my heart and I will always be involved with this race.
Sunday afternoon I left Springfield for St Louis to meet up with Shane and finally meet Bailey. After what is normally a boring 3 hour drive turned epic when I got to Lebanon and my hood flew open on me. When I thought I might have peed myself a little they only thing that was damaged was the hood its self. I told myself “hey if this is the only bad luck I have for the next week” I’m good. After that incident, I realized I could not do shit about it so I just kept on driving. After a few miles, I laughed at the situation and decided to car karaoke, some Oingo Boingo would hit the spot, so i threw on my red wig and started rocking out. I am sure the people driving on the interstate thought I was on something but I did not care, I was about to do something a lot more crazy.
When I arrived at Shanes house, Bailey was in the driveway, as soon as I got out and we introduced ourselves it was evident that she was going to fit into the misfit group pretty well. I mean seriously, who flies to a city to meet someone for the first time and your going to spend 4 days together on the same paddleboard, as well as be picked up by his mother in law. A pretty good start to a comedy movie if I do say so myself. In true form Shane was putting the finishing touches on the board the day before it was to be loaded up and transported to Kansas City. I swear the resin was not even dry when Shane took last years board to KC. After he finished the deck padding we loaded it up and took it to his neighborhood lake to see if she would float and to our enjoyment not only did she float, she was fast. I know Shane was more excited than any of us but this to me was the start of a journey I never thought I would have the balls to do.
Monday morning came very quick for me, I could not get to sleep due to the excitement that was going to go on for a week. We all ate breakfast and waited for Phil and Blake to show up “Solo SUP racers” Once they arrived we took off and headed to KC. To me, the 4-hour drive felt like 45 minutes because we all were chatting and talking about what to expect for the next few days. As we arrived in KC we headed straight to KAW point to unload Kitty. As we drove into the park we noticed everyone looking at whatever the hell it was on the roof of Shane’s van. As we started to offload Kitty people finally were able to get a glimpse of this creation that was full of stories and had yet to be raced. Once to the shoreline, we loaded back up into the van to head to the hotel to attend the safety meeting. When I walked into the hotel lobby i was in shock at the amount of people. Everyone had smiles on their faces, groups meeting up whom have not seen each other in a year catching up on the past months prior to the race. It really was a family event, one that veterans and first-year paddlers found comfort in. The vibe was off the charts. As we made our way down to the convention center the sea of people and the magnitude of the event was really put into perspective, “Holy Shit”, what was I doing here. Once the meeting was over we lingered around to talk with people and relax before we all headed to get some rest. Shane drove Madison and I back to Kaw Point where I was able to find two trees with the perfect view of the Kansas City Skyline. Outside of the tropical and lake views I enjoy, there was something special about swinging in my hammock in such a historic spot. In the park my hammock swung above a sea of kayaks and canoes and SUP Boards. it was sort of a paddler’s wet dream.