Sat - July 26, 2008

Speed: My 2008 Missouri River 340 Race as Recovered from a GPS Track

In my three MIssouri River 340 races I paddled three different boats from my fleet: Spencer X-treme canoe, WSBS Thunderbolt-X kayak, and Kruger's Sea Wind canoe. My last year analysis How to Choose a Boat for an Ultra Marathon Race? The Case of Missouri River 340 remain valid with some updates - Thunderbolt would go somewhat up in my rating. Let's look closer at my race performance in Sea Wind this year.

For the last 1.5 year I paddled almost exclusively the Thunderbolt kayak. I started to train in Sea Wind after the Wyoming Outback Challenge in the beginning of June. My last big paddling in that boat was more than 2 years ago (2006 WaterTribe Florida Ultimate Challenge). So, I didn't have much of single blade training before the race, especially, that during last 10 days I didn't paddled at all due to problems with my right wrist.

My race was this time self supported. Connie traveled with me to Missouri, but met me only at Cooper's Landing, and then waited for me at St Charles.

In addition to a compact Pentax Optio W30 I took also my big camera, Canon EOS 40D with tripod. I wasn't sure how the wrist tendonitis would affect my paddling. I was prepared for a slow scenario: finishing the race within 100 hours and spend some time photographing. Fortunately (and unfortunately for photography), the wrist did not bother me too much during the race.

I used just one paddle: 49" ZRE light power surge. I had a little bit narrower and shorter paddle as a spare.

Below, I plotted the speed during 62:17 hours of my race. The thin black line is the speed derived directly from the Garmin Etrex Vista GPS track. Perhaps, more interesting is the smooth thick green line obtained as a running average. My Etrex Vista was running on a single load of lithium batteries during 53+ hours on water. That was quite surprising performance and I used backlight illumination of my GPS screen during nights.

MIssouri River 340 Race GPS track, Garmin Etrex Vista

Start. 8:04. Leaving Kaw Point after photographing the race start from the left bank of the Kansas River. Chasing the race tail was quite interesting. You don't see too many paddlers taking a smoke break in the front of the race.

A. 15:02-15:11. Lexington checkpoint. Buying a couple of cold water bottles.

B. 18:35-18:40. Waverly checkpoint. Cold water from boy scouts again.

C. 20:29-20:56. Photographing sunset.

D. 23:40-23:50. Miami checkpoint. Buying cold water and a hot dog.

E. 2:27-4:40. Night break. When my speed started to drop below 6 mph I decided to make a break. I took a nap on the shore inside my canoe.

F. 8:45-8:52. Glasgow. Buying some water. It was a long and hot paddling day till Cooper's Landing without any major breaks. I stopped once at a shore to redistribute my food. I drifted and paddled in circles under Boonville railroad bridge photographing. Each year I am taking some pictures of this bridge. Will I see it again next year?

G. 18:41-20:08. Coopers Landing. Connie ordered me a pad thai. I was trying to take a nap, but it didn't work.

H. 0:11-5:42. Noren. Night break in my tent. Trains didn't disturb me.

I. 12:36-12:48. Herman. A bottle of cold water from checkpoint people.

J. 19:26-19:40. Weldon Spring. Water from Brian Weber.

Finish. 22:17. St Charles. 33rd place overall, 19th place in Men's Solo Division (64 finishers from 83 entries), 3rd Kruger Sea Wind. Race results,

Some observations:

  • I was trying to spend as much time as possible on water. However, it seems that my performance was increasing for a while after each even a short stop.
  • Three days of my race look quite different on the graph. After the fast start and chasing the race tail for the first few hours my speed started to drop down until I decided to make a night stop.
  • The second day was the toughest for me due to heat. I didn't have any cold water between Glasgow and Cooper's Landing.
  • The third day was my best one: the river current accelerated, it was cooler, two checkpoints with cold water were just enough for me, I was feeling pretty good.
  • I devoted about 1 hour of the race time to photography. It would translate to about 5 positions in the men solo class. Was it worth it?
  • I spent too much time at Cooper's Landing. However, I stopped in any other checkpoints only as long as it was necessary to buy or get water (with exception of sleeping at Noren). With a land support (and a strict discipline implemented!) I could save up to half hour here.
  • From my three years perspective this year on the Missouri River was relatively easy (maybe, it has something to do with my comfortable Sea Wind): high and fast water still covering many wing dikes, good weather without storms or too much of headwind, full moon nights (I didn't used my light), no fog (or I missed it). However, it seems that many paddlers suffered from heat (the 2006 race was much hotter with some excessive heat warnings in Kansas City).

Other posts from the 2008 Missouri River 340 Race:

Posted at 10:18 AM    

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