Missouri River 340 Race – 3 Year Perspective by Christina Glauner
Personal development as a racer …
The biggest development for me as a racer has been in the last year regarding my food allergies and recent ability to participate in sports that involve a cardio workout. Not long after my 2nd season as a track & field athlete in college, I began having severe allergic reactions within less than 10 minutes of any cardio. Hives turned to welts, swollen eyes sometimes lasted 24 hours.
For some years I didn’t know the cause, and my failed experiments and bad medical advice left me with nothing to do but slow down. Being told ‘you’ll just have to stop’ by a doctor wasn’t something I thought of as a realistic option. It wasn’t until the winter of 2007 that I found a doctor to listen and help. Within a few weeks of committing to a drastically changed diet, the allergic reactions ceased.
I went into the 2008 MR 340 with a feeling that I couldn’t be stopped. Paddling hard and actually racing in 2008 with my team was something I was thrilled about. Before I had to keep my paddling and other sports below the boiling point. Not anymore.
Different boats and teams …
I’m an adventuring river rat at heart. Put me on a floating piece of driftwood and I’m happy.
I’ve completed the MR 340 in a 14.5′ tandem rudderless rec kayak, a 14.5′ Carolina and a 4-man Kevlar TWS racing canoe. The only boat I’d not recommend for the race is the 14.5′ rec tandem “tank”. It could have been paddled downstream sideways just as well as nose pointed down.
The 4-man Texas boats are quite a ride and very impressive. Our boat cut through barge wakes without a flinch and the glide was always long-lasting and efficient.
Being a 5′ 5″ woman, the stern was somewhat oversized. My feet weren’t big enough to push down the tops of the pedals so I lacked rested legs or else found things with which to prop up my feet. Other than this detail, the “big boat” was a great experience. I’d suggest anyone take advantage of paddling or racing in one of these safari boats if given the chance.
I’ve completed this race as solo, tandem and team. And honestly, each division has been just as rewarding as the others. The major advantage to tandem or team boats in my opinion are those extra sets of eyes and ears in your boat. Night paddling and paddling while extremely tired is helped by a buddy in your boat. Of all the racers I’ve talked to who have gone tandem, it seems that each teammate generally bottoms out at a different time, so while your partner may be at a low point you can help raise them back up again and vise versa.
Also, it’s nice to have someone with you to experience the times that are fun (and or freaky) and reminisce about them later. Witnessing eagles playing on a sandbar at sunrise, watching a barge suck water out from behind a wing dike as it goes upstream, finding bats darting across your flashlight beam at 2:00 a.m., submitting to gigantic human faces that move in moonlit cliffs…these are a few of the many fantastic memories I’ve been able to share with a buddy in a boat. You never get tired of talking with your buddy later about “remember when….”!
River and weather conditions …
A few years ago a friend and I started to mix things up when paddling the Kansas River by paddling in times of thunderstorms, floods, taking night trips without lights and winter paddles when many areas are blocked by ice. In doing so, it helped in experiencing different extremes and gaining skills that regular ‘nice weather’ paddling doesn’t offer. Overall, I think that training in extremes can be very beneficial. It gives a lot of perspective and a broader base from which to understand your present paddling circumstances.
Obviously the MR 340 can involve extremes of all kinds. Extreme heat, rain, mayflies, pain, fatigue. But the worst weather related extreme to me is fog. In addition to being a visual impairment, I think it’s the biggest demoralizor. The worst fog I’ve seen on the Missouri was through Lisbon Bottoms in 2006. Not able to see more than a few feet ahead of the nose of the kayak, there was no sense of direction, wing dikes or river bank. Careful listening, adrenaline and pure arrogance guided our tandem boat through two channel crossings.
MR340 event growth and development …
Scott, Russ, Karen and many others have worked so hard to help make the MR 340 so successful. And they do all that they do with such ease and sense of calm. I’m glad the race has grown and seen so many new faces. The attention is good for our rivers, the sport of canoeing and kayaking, Missouri river town communities.
It’s also a great opportunity for serious athletes and weekend warriors to come together and learn a thing or two from each other. Most of the friends I have are MR 340 paddlers, and I’m always thankful for the race because of it. It’s hard to imagine how much bigger this race can get. But no matter, there is plenty of room on the Mighty Mo for us all. 😉
Christina in MR340:
2006 tandem with Eddie Jackson, 100:32
2007 Woman’s solo, 96:12
2008 team (Abdullah, Glauner, Grubbs, McHenry), 51:24