Signing Off

12:24 a.m.: Exhaustion is a funny thing.

Covering the MR340 has been a blast for me. I’ve learned a whole new sport that I’ve never experienced, met a ton of interesting people from the masked racers Los Humungos to the Coffee Dogs, and I’ve seen how far the determination and will can push a person. However, the most interesting thing to me is how exhausting it was to run around to some of the check points, interview people, and update a post. I mean it’s so hard to sit on a lap top and type a 100 word post updating the race. And don’t even get me started on conversing with friendly people, because everyone knows how hard that is. And riding in a car for the long one hour trip back to Columbia to sleep in my comfortable bed just takes a ridiculous toll on the body. That stuff genuinely made me tired, but then I look around and I am a little, no, extremely embarrassed for feeling exhausted. It just amazes me what the ground crew and racers have accomplished. In fact, it was ridiculous for me to feel exhausted and every time someone asked me how I was doing, it took everything in my power to not complain because I have no right.

The racers and ground crew have accomplished an amazing feat of will and strength over this four-day race across the Missouri River. Most have traveled more than 100 miles a day in a river that racer Melanie Hof, said felt like a lake with no current. They utilized every muscle to the maximum output and many like Santo Albright can’t move their body after the race. It also takes an immense toll on the mind. You have to keep pushing yourself when every muscle in your body wants you to stop, the blisters on the hands are gentle reminders that you shouldn’t be doing this, and a sore butt that after sitting on a thin layer of foam for days on end that screams for you to stop. But most of all they have done this race with minimal to no sleep for four days. Many teams like the Lucky 13 with Bryan Hopkins and Joe Mann only took two or three minutes at a check point and barely rested on the river. The teams that did rest mainly slept on sand bars, wing dikes, or in their hard wooden canoe and only for a couple hours. They overcame hallucinations, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. The human body isn’t supposed to go through this, but yet these guys are able to do it and want to do it. It is just remarkable. And don’t even get me started on the grounds crew.

The ground crews have to navigate the back roads of Missouri to find each check point. They hardly sleep at all and if they do it is in their car for only a couple hours. Charlie Bruns the ground crewman for the McHenry’s didn’t even sleep at all. They have to get everything for their racer, whether it is finding coffee and a sandwich in a moments notice like Dianne Maurer did for her racer, mixing a drink just the right way, or even keeping things cold in humid Missouri weather, they were always on the move. Even the race directors and safety boats had little to no rest. They had to always be on safety surveillance, checking in racers, and just following the racers to make sure everything was alright.

So no, I reserve no right to be exhausted. In fact, my eyes have been open wide and my mind blown open at how far people can push their bodies and achieve something. To finish a race that you know you won’t win, but still pushing yourself through sickness, blisters, and soreness just to beat your own personal time or goal takes remarkable determination. What these racers have accomplished these last three days is amazing and something that the person who finishes first and the person that finishes last can remember for the rest of their lives and be proud of. So I commend these racers and ground crew for what they’ve achieved and thank them for opening my eyes as to what exhaustion really is and how far determination can go.

Congratulations.

By: Brian Nordli

Whew! Now I am exhausted…Just kidding.

Sights at the finish line

11:50 p.m.: Racers were arriving all evening at the final check point today looking exhausted yet satisfied with their accomplishments. Other racers also came back to cheer on incoming teams, something Jodie Pfefferkorn, who is making a documentary of the race, said has never happened before. The most prominent display of support was the ovation Hannah Grow, 14, and Marissa Weber, 12, received for finishing the race and doing it under 80 hours. They said they were motivated at the end to beat their dads who rode with them for support, and in doing so they were able to pick up the pace during the home stretch to finish under 80 hours beating several adults more than twice their age. They even received flowers, hugs, and pats on the back from racers and their family and friends.

During the award ceremony at the end of the night racers received black medals for finishing the race under 88 hours. Mansker said that everyone left on the water will finish the race on time. Despite the weariness of the race, everyone was in good spirits. One person even walked around in a speedo playing his guitar.

By Brian Nordli

Race update 10

7:07 p.m.: So far there have 162 boats to check in and 72 boats that did not finish and two that did not start. Women tandem Marissa Weber, 12, and Hannah Grow, 14, finished third over all in the women’s tandem division and under eighty hours. They are the youngest competitors to ever race and competed to raise money for breast cancer. Racers will be coming in until midnight.

Competitors enjoyed a larger than normal greeting from spectators today according to Jodie Pfefferkorn. She said it shows how large and popular the race has gotten. There was also a free barbecue steak dinner for all the racers to enjoy and an awards ceremony where racers can get money, a rowing machine, or other prizes.

By: Brian Nordli

Columbia racer update

5:30 p.m. – Thirty Columbia racers entered the MR 340. Thirteen have finished, ten dropped out and and seven are still in the race.

Here are the latest updates for the Columbia racers:

DNF= Did not finish

* = still in the race

Mens Tandem:

Bryan Hopkins (Columbia) and Joe Mann (San Antonio)    42 hours and 22 minutes

James Kaufman and Ryan Slebos (both from Columbia)  DNF

David Alexander and Brit Shea (both from Columbia)   69 hours and 7 minutes

Jeff O’Bannon and Mark Brooks (both from Columbia)   65 hours and 52 minutes

Michael Burger (St. Louis) and Bryan Burger (Columbia) 76 hours and 42 minutes

Lane Fanguy and Stephen Shinn (both from Columbia) *

David Schelp (St. Charles) and Bill Schelp (Columbia)  54 hours and 42 minutes

Lane Dorsey and Eric Hempel (both from Columbia)  *

Dave Stitz ( Columbia) and John Dirnberger finished at 4:32 p.m. today

John Thomas and William Reeves (both from Columbia) *

Womens Tandem:

Cami Ronchetto anfd Linda LaFontaine (both from Columbia) 61 hours and 50 minutes

Lisa Wells (Columbia) and Elaine Stoll (Lathrop) *

Men’s Solo:

Will McCullah DNF

Steven Kullman  77 hours and 43 minutes

Colin Doggett 64 hours and 0 minutes

Brian Elkington 53 hours and 27 minutes

Women’s Solo:

Megan McCullah DNF

Liz Doubet DNF

Mixed Tandem:

Charlie Lockwood (Columbia) and Tabatha Adkins (Gower) DNF

Jon Frost and Mariana Quinones (both from Columbia) DNF

Matthew and Rachel Keeler DNF

By: Michael Smith

The Coffee Dog way

3:41 p.m.: Team Coffee Dog finished the race yesterday evening around 9:55 p.m. They finished the race in 60 hours and two minutes, but instead of celebrating their accomplishments they drove around to 15 different pawn shops and thrift stores looking for a used bike. However, they found a Craigs Lift ad for two free bikes that they will be receiving later tonight and start their trip back to Kansas City. Uncle A Dog said the boat held up great, and luckily they won’t have to saw it in half like originally planned. The Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center in St. Charles said they would take the boat and put it on display.

Uncle A Dog said that he doesn’t know how they can top this next year, but he did have a few ideas. Possibly laying on a surf board and paddling down the river or the ultimate challenge of swimming the race. However, on a more realistic note Uncle A Dog said that they might paddle backward or paddle back upstream after they finish the race. Whatever they  do, it will be something unique, challenging, and will go down in infamy in the races history.

By: Brian Nordli

Los Humungos Paddleos flex their wrestling muscle at the finish line

3:40 p.m.: Wally Werderich and Nick Josefik finished the MR 340 the same way they started, in their wrestling outfits. Werderich said they did not wear the masks and cape the whole race, but they made sure to pick them up at the last checkpoint before the finish.

They said they both slept an hour each and they hallucinated near the end of the race.

Werderich said he was so full of caffene it made it hard for him to sleep, and said that the fact they were near the front of the pack the whole race was motivation as well. Twenty miles before the finish line Werderich caught up to West Hansen and Katie Pfefferkorn and passed them for third place. According to Werderich, that Pfefferkorn and Hansen were on the side repairing something on the boat. Once they saw that they paddled as fast as they could.

“We saw their spotlight on a few minutes after that,” Werderich said. “Then we looked back after paddling a few miles and saw their light was off. We thought they turned it off to try and sneak up and pass us.

Sleep deprivation caused the duo to have many halucinations, but there was one in particular that brought a smile to Werderich’s face.

“At one point I thought I saw a car driving at us in the river,” Werderich said. “I told Nick (Josefik) to turn the boat around because I thought we were going to get hit.”

Josefik said his body was very wobbly after the race.  He said his shoulders hurt so bad he couldn’t lift a 20 ounce bottle of water to his mouth. So he had to lean back like he was doing the limbo to drink the water.

“I couldn’t even tie my shoes or take off my shirt, because I was hurting so bad,” Josefik said. “But we got energized because our Humungomaniacs were there to see us finish.”

By: Michael Smith

Carp Target Grannies take first place in the women’s tandem division

2:39 p.m. – Linda LaFontaine and Cami Ronchetto are glad to be standing up today. LaFontaine said they paddled 235 miles without sleep, and they made it to the St. Charles at 11:20 p.m. It took them 61 hours and 50 minutes to get there, just falling 31 minutes short of the women’s tandem record of 61 hours and 9 minutes set by Di McHenry and Natalie Courson set in 2007.

They said their closest competitor in the division, was a team called “We got this go home”. They said that name motivated them to go the distance and they ended up on top.

“They are like out boating sisters” Ronchetto said. “We wanted to be waiting for them at the ramp when they got there, and help them drag their boat out of the river. We would have said we got this go home.”

The Carp Target Grannies went to a hotel instead, and got some much needed rest. Ronchetto said they will most likely race in the MR 34 next year. They will be aiming to not only break the women’s tandem record but to finish within 50 hours.

By: Michael Smith