If you have read any of my early post’s or seem me post pics or make post’s or even if you don’t know who the hell I am, I thought it would be right to tell the world how I survived the worlds longest non-stop paddle race.
The MR 340 is a paddle race “Canoe, Kayak, SUP” across the state of Missouri. It begins in Kansas City and ends in St Charles Missouri on the Missouri River. You have 88 hours to finish the race. Most of the paddlers that enter the race want to do the race just to finish, others try to improve on their previous years times, and then the 1% who are absolute machines and knock the race out in under 40 hours. Any way you choose to do this race there is one thing every person has in common, they are a “Little bit off” in the head. I mean, you take one of the most powerful rivers in the country, throw in some wing dams, bugs like horse flies, mosquitoes, heat and pain and poof you have a good time with a like-minded lunatics.
In the fall of 2016 Shane Perrin asked me if I would like to paddle on a 6 man SUP board he was going to build for the MR340. I instantly said yes!. Then I instantly thought “SHIT” what did I get myself in to. The questions and research and meeting people began. Diet, Training, getting the body adjusted to lack of sleep, everything was running through my head. I asked veteran paddlers for advice, probably drove Shane insane on the number of questions I asked him. One thing I noticed was, everyone, answered with their opinions and suggestions. Not one single reply was negative but, there was a trend I seen in a few of the answers I asked. In a way, you kind of had to average out peoples replies and suggestions. From this, I formed my own thoughts on how I should approach the race.
Clothing seemed to be one of the biggest parts of having success with the MR340. Some people said tank tops with lots of sunscreen, the tank tops will keep you cool. Some people said long sleeve performance shirts. Some people said Shorts while others stressed white or light color leggings. It did not take long to find out that Shirts certainly won of skins. Long sleeve performance shirts wick moisture, keep the sun rays from hitting your skin, protect you from skeeters and horse flies and when you get hot you can jump in and the shirt will cool you when wet. The best part is they dry quick and shockingly, wearing long sleeve shirts like these are not hot to wear in the heat. I chose to also wear white leggings under my swim trunks because I knew I would be standing in the direct sun and my legs would get burnt to a crisp.
Probably the most important part of the MR340 to me and I think most people will agree is your diet. I spent the most time studying this topic and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to eat. Some of the seasoned paddlers and racers have trained their bodies to be able to live on supplements and gels and all sorts of weird foods. This is great for someone that is used to this type of diet during a long race like this. From granola bars to power bars to drink mixes like Spiz, seasoned racers are able to sustain their bodies needs off of these products, and they work very well for them.
Other paddlers eat junk food to try to keep the energy up and give them a morale boost while spending hours alone on the river. I did not notice a ton of this form of dieting but there was a few. I knew this was not going to work for me. So I studied on and found out something pretty cool. Now in a race like this, you might think you need to get all crazy with your diet when in fact what I found out was you don’t have to do anything. Most of the suggestions I found basically said: ” Don’t do anything with your diet”. Well, this seemed a little weird at first especially with someone like me that likes lots of carbs and filling foods, so I asked my father in law who is a doctor. He told me the same thing pretty much. What I did was eat the same foods I normally ate like pasta, cereal bars, yogurts, and red meat. These are the things I tend to eat the most of. I literally did not change a thing in my diet, so much that there was one mistake I did not take in to count. A lot of the fiber, now, fiber is a good thing, it keeps you full but, when your in the middle of a big river and you’re full of fiber and you have “THE SHIFT” your kind of screwed. You find the nearest boat ramp or shoreline and do what a call “The 340 Trots”. Not much more detail is needed but, I will give you this advice, don’t eat a lot of fiber unless you want to experience the shoreline numerous times.
I will say that every single person is different, every body acts differently to different foods and things you put in your system. I am by no means a nutritionist but this is what I found works best for me in this type of race….. minus the fiber. So please don’t take what I chose as a diet and run with it, you need to test your body, find the foods you like the best or work the best for YOUR body.
The MR340 is a different kind of race, anyone can do it if they have the drive. Yes, majority of the paddlers are in amazing shape and the will be the faster paddlers on the river, however, I am proof that pretty much anyone can do the MR340, yes the year prior I was over 400lbs and yes, I lost over 100lbs up to race day, but I was in NO WAY an in shape athlete, I just did my best to improve my paddling skills, focused on hydration and stuck to my diet plan and I was able to finish the race. With the support of my family and friends including Shane I was able to mentally help my get down the river, but this was not the biggest factor that got me to the finish line. It was the people that doubted me, the friends that laughed when I told them I was doing this and they said there was no way in hell I could do this. It was the people that talked behind my back that doubted I could do this. This is what fueled me to finish the 340, proving all the nay-sayers wrong. If you put your mind to something and you focus on that goal and surround yourself with positive vibes you can do anything you want.
Now, I will admit, when your paddling with a team it does make life easier. You have people to talk to on long stretches, you support each other, you laugh, you joke. All this makes for an actual pleasant race. I will also admit my stamina was not as good as everyone else on the board, I did sit a lot, I stopped to rest a lot I was a part of a special team of friends that had one goal in mind, To get our ass down the river and not die. To the paddlers that do this race solo, kudos to all of you and your badassery. I will be experiencing that in 2019 when I attempt the 340 solo. I will be finding ways to entertain my brain while I am on the river alone at 3am. I am treating my 2019 race like I did in 2017, I will focus on the goal of finishing the race, surrounding myself with friends and family that support me and I will open the gas cap to those that want to fuel me with doubt. The greatest part of this race, in particular, is, when you show up to KAW point “starting line” you are in a sea of paddlers and you feel the love and friendship in the air. You can walk up to anyone and say hi and next thing you know you are sitting around sharing life stories and more. Not one person is better than the other, everyone is there to paddle down the river for that finish line cheeseburger and beer. This is the type of race that the people that finish first, stay to greet the last. It’s a glimpse into a world that we all should have, Friends, family, laughter, love and compassion and a general kindness towards the river and the lands around it. For 88 hours, paddlers, ground crews and safety crews are one, one goal, and one love ” The river” which gives life to all the towns up and down her.
I have paddled the race once, ground crewed twice, I am by no means a long time veteran but, I learned a lot very quickly and loved a lot of people even more. There is 1000’s of other paddlers that will help you with pretty much any question you have, all I can give you is the hope that if you are like me, a little bigger, you can set your mind to doing what you set out to do, focus on it and DO IT, but do it in style.