July 8, 2010

A really cool guy thought up a really cool race...

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

Text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Caanan Cowles & Diana Dexter

This was the inaugural year for a really good idea. A 16-mile paddle race ending across the river from the state capital: Jefferson City on Independence Day weekend. Pulling off even such a simple idea is not quite as easy as you’d think. But when you start with a great idea hatched by a tenacious, well-connected dude with gobs of skills – it looks easy!

For me it all started with a phone call. Patrick Lynn from Jefferson City had hoped to paddle in our Flying Carp race, which ended up (perhaps unwisely!) getting cancelled due to high water and drift in the river. But after the cancellation, he rang us up and said he wanted to organize a race for charity from Hartsburg to Jeff City. And he wanted us to be the charity!

We had recently done a clean-up at Noren Access in Jefferson City, and were starting to develop a great set of friends there. One great couple is Andy and Leisha Neidert – who started bringing their boat to clean-ups in the area and diving in. A real couple of river rats, they live on the bluff upstream of Jeff City, overlooking the river. Patrick is friends with Andy too, so Andy agreed to help and it was on.

As the day approached, our friends at MRCN had to cancel their race due to major flooding in Glasgow, and the river looked like it was going to be high all summer. But then it stopped raining. The week before the race, it was becoming clear that we might be able to pull this off. The projection of 2 feet below flood stage held.

Patrick worked this race with dogged dedication. Hopefully next year this thing will grow enough to pay the dude – but he insisted on taking this on as a volunteer this year. He coordinated everything himself, from food for racers to corporate sponsorship; from organizing race classes to staggering heats; from race publicity to making sure there were water bottles. When something didn’t pan out, he didn’t blink – on to plan b.

He started advertising the race months before – the first news story was back in April. He did Twitter, he did Facebook. He got cool stickers made. If we offered half-baked ideas from our experience, he’d run with it and make it happen.

For us at Missouri River Relief, nothing could have been easier than working with Patrick Lynn on this race.

Where Patrick really shined was the day of the race. He worked his butt off all day long, conducting the race start, answering never-ending questions and solving problems on the fly. Watching his persistence as he recalculated times (an admitted history major) it was clear he was finally going to sleep great that night.

Beyond his unbelievable generosity to our organization and cause, his most admirable quality was among the chaos of hundreds of people dragging boats through the Hartsburg lot or waiting for their lunch at Noren, Patrick would answer your questions with a smile and real appreciation.

Oh, and he’s great with a soundbite: “I grew up near the river and didn’t really start getting out and enjoying it until a few years ago,” he said. “It’s a great resource here in Jefferson City and needs to be utilized more.” Bingo…

Patrick, you’re a truly kind soul, and we can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for us and for our mission of connecting people to this amazing river by getting out on her.

But he’s definitely not the only one to thank for making this race happen. The list is actually pretty long:

Sponsors –
The Old Brickhouse Deli – donated and served lunches to the racers.
Central Bank
Husch Blackwell Sanders
Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau

Partners -
Alpine Shop
– donated lip balm for racers
Big Muddy Adventures – donated proceeds from a ride in the 22-foot wooden Junebug canoe
Dexter crew – showed up, helped patrol the race and took gobs of great photos.
Jefferson City Parks and Recs – donated canoe and paddle rental.
Joe Wilson – the host with the most
Lafarge-Neidert – graphic design
Lynn Family - registration
Mid-Missouri Amateur Radio Club – Set up stations along the route (some in boats, some biked out the Katy Trail, some on decks of friends over looking the river) and kept all stations in communication.
Missouri American Water – donated gift bags
Neidert family – safety boat – and everything that needed doing
Schnucks – donated gift bags & drinks
St. James Winery – prize wine!
And without a doubt the Missouri River Relief crew solid as a rock!

1 comment:

~Bob said...

This was a great race, can't wait to do it again next year, along with anything else you guys put on!