The short and sweet of it. From m.o.i.'s initial perspective this year's mr340 felt like an ass-whupping on the river. I say that and then remember that after being ready to throw in the towel midway through the race I did manage to stop sucking my thumb and begin enjoying myself a little and FINISH. ALIVE. This matters. Thirty second place in my division - ahead of some 62 other men's soloists - 103rd overall. A victory of perseverance which, lacking charm, good looks, and wealth, happens to be one of my best qualities.
Yes, the time was a little slower than last years but our hip rotation must have been much better this year because it's my back that's a little tight, not my shoulders. Joint pain? excepting a few knuckles on my hands, I have none. My biggest problem are my swollen and numb feet, an indication that I was driving my legs throughout the race; I'm hoping it disappears soon.
Outside of the hotshots who compete in this race, for the rest of us this race is more about chasing away the mind demons. The ones that say to you, "you can't do that", "forget doing that", or "you're really not cut out for that". The process to make the demons disappear is fairly simple. Stay in the boat and paddle.
The race is also about asking for and receiving the help of others. My field crew essentially consisted of 5 people-the logistics of kayaking to St. Louis and getting yourself and the boat back in one piece isn't that easy. My daughter Sarah delivered me to the start line and told me to shut up and relax when the thunderstorms delayed the start. She also picked me up from the Amtrak station upon my return and cleaned my car in the intervening days of the race. Anyone who knows my Homer tendencies knows that this isn't a small task. My unflappable friend WendE delivered supplies at several checkpoints along the way, handed me a raspberry Slurpee at the finish line, and solicited the help of fellow conservationist Steve Van Rhein who was able to witness first hand the carnage, joy, and sense of accomplishment this race brings to folks. Next year his lame excuses run out and he climbs in a boat and comes along or he'll find himself blowing on my tender feet again. Being younger, stronger, and more fit Steve might even beat me downriver but my veteran status suggests that I might just kick his ass (undaunted braggadocio is one side effect of finishing this race). Another pal, former Conservationist Ruth Wallace (does one detect a trend in my choice of crew?) had my halfway point resupply cache waiting in the sand at Jefferson City. I was also assisted on numerous occasions by John Dunn who kept throwing bananas and the advice to "get some sleep" my way.
Time for a new adventure. It may be as simple as trimming the hedge or organizing the house. It may be as complex as facing down the MAN at the day job, tackling the Yukon Quest, or romancing the stone. Whatever it may be, it'll likely be shorter than 340 miles on the Muddy MO in August.
Race directors Karin Thomas, Russ Payzant, and Scott Mansker see which favors they can call in to get the rain to stop.
Favorite moments from this years mr340:
Reconnecting with the Ninja Raccoons, meeting their prospecting field chief, and being able to share a little of our city with them before the race.
A 1 hour nap, a banana, and a bottle of Ensure courtesy of Bill Lanning's daughter.
Sleeping on the Katfish Katy ramp with no one around and being refreshed for once upon arriving at Cooper's Landing.
Flipping my kayak while trying to land it on the Noren beach and not caring one iota especially after being handed a piping hot cup of french press from my friend Vicki.
Watching the locals shoot 8-ball on the regulation sized pool tables at the River Bend Bar in Portland and then imitating Carter Johnson by stuffing a double cheeseburger from same bar in my pocket and paddling off into the setting sun.
Sharing a hotdog and a cup of The World's Greatest Limeade ver.3.0 with Wende and Steve at the Herman Checkpoint.
Throwing the ashes (stuffed inside a toy dinosaur) of former racer, Trex the Rare West Tibetan Mountain dog, deep into the river from the barge dock below the finish line and watching booger catch a ride on the thalweg.
Seeing friendly faces at every stop and people who gave me cold water, bananas, peanut butter sandwiches, words of encouragement, and even a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Joanie's post-race slideshow of Machu Picchu.\
Being a tourist in St.Louis after the race, riding the light rail downtown, checking out CityPark Sculpture Garden, and having the Amtrak run on time.
Finding out that Darling Daughter Dora had detailed six months of Kansas River silt and sand from my car.
Least favorite moments:
Being scared of capsizing in the windy wake of 270 boats for the first 30 minutes of the race, the energy-sucking crossing through the gale blowing across the Missouri City bend, and the toxicity of too much adrenalin.
Not sufficiently testing my new watering/electrolyte system and having to drink only electrolytes for the first 50 miles.
Bonking hard on the run into Booneville.
Trying to put contacts in my eyes and losing several on the sandy ramp at Klondike (The fun part though was ignoring John Dunn's advice, "you're not going to put that sandy lens in your eye, please tell me you're not going to do that!" Yes John I am. But first the hydrologist must triple rinse!.
Missing 90 percent of the awards ceremony due to poor service at the Mill Creek Brew House.
Losing two $25 hats-both favorites. The new rivermiles hat flew off in the wind during the first 10 miles of the race and my USGS shade hat eventually shredded from UV damage.
Images by Sarah Star via flickr. see more images at dokidokididikoko's photostream