July 9, 2010

Fast, Fun & Floody

Race to the Dome
Hartsburg to Jeff City
July 3, 2010

text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Dave "the River Slave" Marner, Diana Dexter and Caanan Cowles

Sometimes you finish an event, look around at all the smiling people and realize: this is the first year of big deal.

That’s how it felt for me at the end of the Race to the Dome. People were glowing, and you could see that this thing could be big.

66 boats went in the water. Amazing for the first year! But ever since the MR340 took off, it’s seemed like the growth of paddling recreation on the Missouri River has not hit its limit.

A great diverse crowd showed up at Hartsburg Landing. Some fancy boats were already in the water when I showed up: some folks training for the 340 had put in upstream earlier and showed up for the race by water. Other trainees were planning on heading down to Hermann after the race finish.

There were aluminum canoes borrowed from Jeff City Parks – some folks didn’t have their own boat and had never been on the river. In my opinion, a race like this is a perfect time for people to get their “riverlegs”. You’ve got safety boats in the water in case something goes wrong. You’ve got other paddlers to help you find the safe, fast water. You’ve got lunch waiting for you at the end.

Because of the high water, racers were separated into heats so there was plenty of room in the eddy at the bottom of the ramp. All race heats were launched without issue (except the sucking mud on the ramp left by the recent flooding). It just made things really complicated for timekeeping!

Several spectacles were on hand as well. Big Muddy Adventures showed up with John Ruskey’s handmade Junebug canoe, taking out a group of folks for a gentle paddle downstream for a donation to River Relief. At the Noren ramp, the MR340 Dragon Boat, carrying 20 paddlers (!) jammed up the ramp for a while taking off. What a sight!

Only a couple of boats spilled. One guy self-rescued right in the middle of the river. Another bunch swamped and lost their paddles. Luckily, we had an extra kayak paddle in our safety boat and they could get on their way.

One of our safety boats was able to take a couple of our most dedicated sponsors, Pat Jones and Jamie Coe, out on the river. What a great time to get out there and see all these folks out enjoying the river.

Jeff City’s own Matt Green and Kevin Schwarz of the “Aquaholics” took men’s tandem kayak and were the overall winners (1 hour 10 minutes!!!!). Our neighbor, Jodi Pffeferkorn and her partner Charlie Lockwood (“Pfefferwood”) were the first back to the ramp, winning the mixed tandem class. They’ve been training for the 340 as of late and are looking good! See them at the 340, too. Past 340 winner Bryan Hopkins (“Lucky 13”) took the men’s solo kayak race by a landslide (mudslide?). Carp Target Grannies from Columbia floated in from upstream and ended up ruling women’s tandem. I’ll post other winners as I get them.

Plus, we had several River Reliefers in the race. Janet Moreland (the first person to sign up for the race – “Easy Rider”) took silver in solo female kayak, followed by Allison Kellenberger (“Mother of Pearl”) in her first race. Melanie Cheney and Liz Doubet took second in their class (“Muddy Bottom Gumbo Gals”). David Lackey ("Water Lily") took third place in men's solo kayak! We were all so proud!

Complete results are posted on the Race to the Dome website.

After we finished up cleaning up after the race, several of us loaded up Big Muddy Mike’s canoe and headed upstream to our high sandbank camp. Music, campfire, veggie packs, lots of swimming, sunset boat ride. That’s the way to celebrate independence!

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