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Missouri River 340 – 3 Year Perspective by Katie Pfefferkorn

Submitted by on March 8, 2009 – 6:13 am One Comment

Personal development as a racer …

After the first MR340 at the age of 21, I initially thought it was a one-time deal. No need to do it again. Then I started thinking of the small changes I would make IF I were to do the race again…Someday.

Maybe I could shave off an hour here and there. I got really inspired about all the people who became increasingly fascinated with the race and very excited about doing it themselves. It was rare to be going
into the second year as a veteran. So I gave myself the opportunity to give it another shot and see if I improved over a year’s time.

Kansas River Gritty Fitty Race 2007

The biggest paddling influence from the first year to the second year was paddling with Charlie Lockwood. Charlie contacted me about doing the Gritty Fitty since we both lived in the same area. We practiced as a tandem team on the lakes and rivers around Columbia, Missouri in an aluminum canoe. That’s how I learned the bulk of my single blade paddling technique.

The summer of the second MR340 I had the privilege of practicing double blade paddling with the men’s tandem team from Malaysia. Aside from technique, learning the ins and outs of endurance racing and how to train for endurance events is key for making progress year after year.

Different boats …

Boat design was first introduced to me when I joined the Mizzou Concrete Canoe Team as a freshman in college. Team members designed, built and raced concrete canoes.

So far, I have always done the MR340 race in a borrowed boat (everything from plastic to carbon fiber) but recently purchased my own carbon fiber racing canoe, a Spencer DSX. The boat Charlie Lockwood and I competed in for the first Gritty Fitty was a Western Red Cedar strip canoe using paddles handmade by Charlie. I’ve also raced in a Kevlar Wenonah J-180, a classic C-1.

MR340: Perception Sea Kayak (06), Necky Looksha Sea Kayak (07), Spencer X-Stream (08)
Kawlloween Classic: Wenonah J-180 (07), Spencer DSX (08)
Gritty Fitty: wood strip canoe (07), Spencer DSX (08)
Race for the Rivers: Wenonah J-180 (07)

From 98 to 50 hours …

Most influence in improving my racing time in MR340:
1.) paddling technique (20%)
2.) experience (18%)
3.) fitness training (17%)
4.) faster boat (15%)
5.) ground crew (13%)
6.) race tactics & strategy (12%)
7.) Weather/water level (5%)

I consider race tactics to include paddling with other racers at night and drafting.


River and weather conditions …

I learn more and more about reading the river each year although the Missouri is really not a technical river. The thunderstorm the first year was an interesting encounter; one that temporarily left me nervous
of thunderstorms even when driving on the highway.

The biggest signatures of the Missouri river are the barges, wing dikes, and a 12-mile windy corridor upstream of Cooper’s Landing.

MR340 event growth and development …

I am so impressed by and appreciative of the MR340 race directors. In just three years, they grew the race ten-fold.The MR340 is in the ranks of other well known endurance races that have been around for 30+ years. In addition to the growth, the race has a great personality. Paddlers of all different levels and backgrounds compete in one race with one start time and one finish line. There is a very exciting and friendly atmosphere all throughout the race and I am grateful to the generous race directors, volunteers, ground crews and other paddlers for creating that atmosphere.

Katie in MR340:

2006 Woman’s solo, 98:36

2007 Woman’s solo, 58:57

2008 Woman’s solo, 50:00

3 Years of the Missouri River 340 Race series:
Bryan Hopkins, West Hansen, Christina Glauner, Chuck and Di McHenry




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