Mr340 Independent Spirit Awards by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

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.

2006: toughness/kindness
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.

2009: inventiveness
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.[]

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.

kc sprint championships by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Race Director Scott Mansker takes advantage of a quiet pre-race moment to tell the assembled crowd a fish story.

The Mann family, Joe (rear left with white ballcap), Grandpa Hoot, and Grandson Frank took top style points by winning 2 divisions with 3 generations of racers.

Women's solo division winners. Left to right in 1st,2nd,and 3rd were: Katie Pfefferkorn, Shannon Twenter, and Barbara Stoppelmoor.

This was a tough landing in high water.

Well worth the price of this downriver run was a trip back to Kaw Point in Race Organizer Russ Payzant's beautifully restored 1950's era cabin cruiser.

pfefferkorn takes on world record and memorial day complacency by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Updated 30 May 2010

Just talked to Scott: the new (unofficial) world record and soon to be a Guinness world record for farthest distance paddled by a woman on moving water is held by Katie Pfefferkorn at 192.1 miles. She finished with 12 minutes left on the clock, but was near a mile marker, so it was easiest to catch it on film to make it official.
--West Hansen via

Katie Pfefferkorn, that bolt of Kansas sunshine who never seems to drop her wing paddle, solos past Paseo Bridge construction on her most recent world record attempt. Pfefferkorn, who broke the previous mark for the longest distance paddled by a woman in a 24-hour period less than a month ago, hopes to put in 200 miles before her day is done—which should happen at 7:45 am Sunday. Scott Mansker and Russ Payzant, a major part of the MR340 brain trust, are providing support and verification for the attempt.

2009 mr340: in pictures by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

View a collection of photos about the recent mr340 at
mr340 photo collection.

Photo: The Rivermiles Gang of Four: Karin Thomas, Travis Worley, Scott Mansker, and Russ Payzant. They are backed by several hundred volunteers. It's not true that they don't like people, far from it, they just like to push them--to their limit.

2009 mr340: m.o.i.'s experience by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

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

2009 mr340: contact dermatitis by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The mr340 comes with its own set of aches and pains if one expects to get full value from the race. Tendinitis, sunburn, chafing, heat exhaustion, loss of sensation in extremities, and weird skin rashes seem to pop up with the regularity of Corps wing dikes. We must remain vigilant to prevent toxic waste from entering our streams; toxic waste comes in many forms-some obvious and some not. As Paracelsus said, it's the dose that makes the poison so just because something is released in very small quantities into the environment doesn't mean it doesn't harm the biota. Ask the next 3-legged Simpson frog you see how they feel about trace amounts of atrazine in runoff.

Although the US certainly has some of the cleanest waters in the world, we have also polluted many stretches our rivers. Few rivers can be considered pristine. Even mountain headwaiter streams frequently have detectable quantities of human personal care products.

Despite the efforts of anyone, including the racers, involved with the mr340, the Missouri River is considered by many other citizens to be little more than a freeway, the ultimate sewage treatment plant discharge point for about one-third of our nation, or a willing participant as a recipient of nutrient laden sediment. These attitudes need to change; not just about the MO river but also with regards to the tributary streams.

The 2 barrels in the above photo were seen in St. Charles' Frontier Park (adjacent to the finish). The distance to the MO River from this trib is less than 500 ft. The next big storm will likely carry the barrels and any remaining chemical inside them into the Mighty MO. Once in the MO the barrels can and from their its onto

2009 mr340: everyone came by boat by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

In our celebrity culture that seems to only want to recognize the comings, goings, and shenanigans of the beautiful, gifted, and wealthy it's easy to forget that most all of our ancestors arrived in the Midwest by water. Some came up the Mississippi and then the Missouri in all sorts of water craft but many crossed the ocean of prairie grass in boats of a different sort. Back then, these travels, many of which lasted for weeks or months, were more often called the way to go rather than a crazy adventure.

2009 mr340: onward rare west Tibetan mountain dog by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The ashes of Trex, reknowned river dog, adventurist, mr340 racer, and Rare West Tibetan Mountain dog nonpareil, entombed in a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur were a stowaway in the 4th edition of the mr340. At sunrise Sunday they were released back into the river for a seaward journey of reincarnation.

2009 mr340: warrior ant press women's solo winner by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Melanie Hof of St. Louis, MO brought home the top prize in her first mr340.

The 2009 MR Warrior Ant Press Women's Solo Division Winners.
Official Results:

1st place, Melanie Hof, 55:58(hrs:min)
2nd place, Natalie Courson,57:41
3rd place, Karen Exon, 62:02
4th place, Jana MaCleland,65:53
Kudos to the others who raced.