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Missouri River 340 Race – 3 Year Perspective by West Hansen

Submitted by on February 9, 2009 – 1:23 pm

For a first year shakedown cruise, the MR340 went off remarkably well. All the stars lined up just right in order for me to do the race.

Wade Binion and Armin Lopez (Belize) were coming back from racing the AuSable River Marathon just in time to meet me in KC and be my support team.

James DeVoglear lent me his brand new prototype DSX that had been the buzz in the Texas racing community for the past year. He also lent me his Vicious light system. All for free. He was quite trusting and gracious, as others had been turned away from his boat. KC wasn’t too far from Austin and I had the time off to make the race.

I really had no idea how it would go, but remember being quite concerned about wing dikes. Wade had all the maps and did a great job of assuming my needs. It’s always good to have a racer as your Team Captain (as they’re known on the third coast). Other than that freak storm, the race went off without a hitch.

From then, it’s been interesting to see the adjustments in the rules and such to make room for more boats and to bring in more interest from the towns on the river. I really like the fact that the race has stuck to the classes it has laid out and hasn’t fallen into the trap of having overall placements. I also like the fluctuating dates in relation to the full moon. The river has become more familiar to me, which helped our teams effort last year to get ahead of our competition.

It’s been really great to see it grow and to get to know Russ, Karin, Scott and Travis so well. Granted, Travis looks quite a bit different now that his midsection has been deflated and his shoulder’s and arms are at full capacity. Another bonus has been the folks that have come out to support the efforts of the organizers. The last two years I’ve gone back upstream after finishing and met the volunteers who’ve manned some of the checkpoints. There’s a growing interest and excitement. During year one, these places were vacant, save for Wade and Armin, whom I had to consistently wake up, since they had no idea when I was to arrive. Yearly, now, I’m seeing the same warm faces on the river, from, Nancy, the mayor of Hartsburg to the folks at River Relief.

It’s a really nice feeling to come back and share a goal with everyone outside their normal lives. Perhaps this is our normal life that we spend the rest of our time supporting. I like the unofficial support that the racers are showing one another, stemming from the forum. This will be the greatest asset for the races continued success.

The race is moving in the right direction and I can see it eventually having a thousand boats entered, resulting in full time jobs for the directors. It’s not unheard of with examples being the MS150 races, Ragbrai, road marathons and many other great events. The MR340 has already come a long way and taken on a life of it’s own from the moment three and a half years ago when the horn went off at Kaw Point and that handful of boats headed out into who knows where.


West in MR340:

2006 Men’s Solo 1st 53:40
2007 Men’s Tandem with Richard Steppe 1st 44:27
2008 Team (Anderson, Glock, Hansen, Kelly, Rendon, Steppe) 1st 36:19

West Hansen on Choosing that Next and Faster Boat for Ultramarathon Racing

13 Tips on Training for Endurance Paddling Races from West Hansen

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

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