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Imagine fighting waves six feet high, strong winds and hot temperatures as you kayak across the mighty Missouri River. For participants in the Missouri 340 Kayak and Boat Race all these harsh elements are a reality, which caused some of the rowers to drop out before the race was even over. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.
Rowers competing in the fourth annual Missouri 340 Kayak and Boat Race pushed off shore Monday and now have around 13 hours left.
The Missouri 340 is the longest non-stop river race in the world.
Competitors travel across the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles in 88 hours.
Kayakers have to stop at checkpoints at certain times along the river to get more supplies or take a break.
If rowers don’t make the checkpoints on time, then they could be disqualified.
Jim Doggett, of Springfield, is one of the racers that had to drop out because of the heat.
Doggett says the race started with 270 people and 40 percent of the people dropped out before he did.
“Basically, you have to keep yourself motivated to keep paddling and you have to do about six miles an hour to make all the time areas at the checkpoints, which I was doing. Once I got hot and down the road, I’d almost stopped eating because nothing looked very good. One of the biggest problems would always be hydration and replacing calories,” Doggett said.
Doggett says he started to become dehydrated and was hallucinating, so he decided he needed to stop the race.
He says he did 20 mile laps around Springfield Lake to train for the race.
Doggett says the training didn’t prepare him enough for the actual race.
“The roughest things were tugboat waves, which are about six feet high and to be in a little kayak that’s a lot of waves coming at you. The rest of it was just navigating the river and there was very little fog when I was out on the river at night,” Doggett said.
He says the river was really high and fairly calm, but he says that meant that he had to do more rowing.
Doggett says if anyone wants to do this race, then they need plenty of stamina.
“It’s not a leisurely deal. It’s not a Saturday leisure thing. You have to be in shape and ready to go with it,” Doggett said.
He says he plans to try the Missouri 340 race again next year.
For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.