Labor Day seems like a good time to announce the first winners of the MR340 Spirit Awards. Open to racers, ground crews, and volunteers of the Missouri River 340 Canoe-Kayak Race, the MR340 Spirit Awards are bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate qualities that further aspects of the river or the event. Like most of life, winners of the Independent Spirit Awards receive no cash prizes (or corporate gift cards). Instead, Warrior Ant Press makes a small contribution in the honorees name to Missouri River Relief, which, among other river-related activities, provides safety boats for the MR340.
MR340 Independent Spirit Award Winners Awards are given for each of the first 5 years of the race. Hats off and paddles down for these honorees.
Jim Low, Jefferson City, MO. A long-time outdoorsman and reporter, Jim sensed the true adventure of the race and wrote the first news articles about it when only 15 boats were involved. Over the last 5 years, several of Jim's articles have appeared in the Missouri Conservationist which, because of the widespread readership of the magazine (both in-state and out), has convinced many new to ultarmarathon racing to venture out on the Big Muddy.
Dawn Keller, Outer Banks, North Carolina. A survival trainer, at er being thrown from her boat during the first night of the inaugural race, Dawn went on to shepherd two boats to the finish line with her relentless spirit and simple mantra of "if you aren't paddling, then you aren't moving".
Mark Handley, Holt, Missouri. When long-time friend Richard Lovell was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and Mark decided to race the river they loved. They were the last boats to arrive in 2007; a landing which moved anyone lucky enough to have witnessed it.
Barbara Edington, Groves, Texas. Since year 2, Barbara has worked 24-7 during the race, talking to checkpoint volunteers to provide near-real-time race results so that friends, family, reporters, and the general public, can follow the race as it unfolds.
2008:friendshipBlack Coffee, Smithville, MO and Uncle A Dog, Lee's Summit, MO. In a test of wills that will likely never be exceeded, Coffee and Dog, built home-made trailers and stuffed them inside their home-made kayaks. Lashed to the top were their bicycles. Shortly after landing in St. Charles, the dynamic duo reassembled everything and pedaled back to the start along the Katy Trail. Not tough enough for you? Try this without a ground crew; they did.
The Ninja Racoons: Jana Shannon Bradley. Durham, North Carolina and Mike Massey, Bellingham, Washington. In 2007,friends Jana and Mike drove from both coasts, meeting in the breadbasket of America to take on the Mighty MO. Through careful planning and determination, they managed to win their division in their first year of competition. The nocturnal pair returned in 2008 to defend their crown and were summarily crushed by the competition. They have not returned but have remained friends.
Jodi Pfefferkorn, Rocheport, MO. Jodi continues to document the experiences of the MR340 and those who share a river life on film. Best be careful not to stand in the way of her camera or her razor-sharp wit.
Joe Wilson, Jefferson City, MO. The Mayor of Noren Access. Shed a tear in Joe's honor, he deserves it for creating a serene, beach-front park from a flood deposit.[photo:riverrelief.org]
2010: personal improvement
Joe Mann, San Antonio, Texas.The Dark Horse Paddler, after reading about the inaugural MR340, put out his cigarette and got off the couch. He stepped into a kayak for the first time in February, 2007 and in 3.5 years has become a formidable presence who contends in any race he enters.
Christina Glauner, Lawrence, KS.A veteran of all five MR340, Christina managed to convince 20 other people to sit in a dragon boat for 40 hours and paddle for the children. When the crew attempted to pitch one racalcitrant paddler overboard into the fog, Christina successfully intervened on their behalf.