This ain't your Momma's float trip
Something really interesting happened after this year's MR340 race here in Missouri.
(The MR 340 is 340 miles non-stop on the Missouri river ). One of my crew, Karen Schubert, wrote her perspective from a crew's P.O.V. of the race and sent it to me. After reading it I realized I only tell my side of the race story and what I experience. The crew gets to observe the details like when I come into a check point and I look like crap. When on my side of it, I think I'm ok, but they see otherwise. I thought for this race write up I'd share Karen's perspective and add a little narrative of my own. So here goes
Karen: Sitting here watching the Olympics a few days after the finish of the MR 340, I watch 15-year-old Katie Ledecky win a swimming gold medal. Not only that, she almost broke the world record and blew away the rest of the field by a couple of seconds. Not bad for a girl that a year ago wasn’t even eligible for the Olympic trials. Now she’s on the gold medal podium—one of those “burst-on-the-scenes” athletes that will no doubt be talked about for a while because of her amazing accomplishment.
I know a guy kind of like that. Shane is taking traditional water races and turning them on their ear with things that haven’t been done before—heck, they weren’t even THOUGHT of before. So when he asked me to be part of his ground crew for the MR340, I jumped at the chance. It was like being asked to be the personal assistant for a rock star. Hecks, yeah!
Shane warned me it wasn’t going to be easy, and I figured that. But for some reason I just felt like it was a perfect fit for me, and I couldn’t wait for the time to come. He had asked me six months before, and after a million questions (and getting about 12 real answers) and several trips to Walmart for supplies (“You want me to get tampons for gunshot wounds???”), we were ready to go.
DAY 1 – Monday, July 30th
From left to right, Team #1115
Karen (crew), Shane (racer), Michael(crew)
Getting to his house on Monday, we were already late out of the chute. Shane had to work and had just gotten home, his wife Elissa had to get the rental car, and Michael, my ground crew partner in crime was running behind. We finally got out of the starting blocks and headed across the state on I-70 to Kansas City. As someone who gets carsick if I’m not driving, I became the default driver. I don’t know if Michael and Shane ever regretted that decision, but I knew my job was to get us there ASAP. “What’s the speed limit here?” became a popular question as I pushed the envelope to get to KC as quickly as possible. With a quick pit stop at Steak N Shake to grab food,
Michael- Crew for the Texas Water Safari and now for the MR340
Pit stop at steak and shake
we made it in just under four hours. Shane jumped out of the car to go to the meeting as we pulled up. After parking the car, Michael and I went in as the meeting had just ended and found ourselves swimming upstream through a mass of humanity. We found Shane and then chased him around as he made the rounds socially, checked in with the race officials and picked up all his racing giveaways. We met up with Jill, from Piddle Paddle LLC in KC, who was letting us stay overnight at her house, as well as her husband Doug who was in the race. Also staying there was Shane’s good friend (and last year’s ground crew, my savior for answering all my questions), Dwayne and his ground crew Ben. By the time we got there, ate spaghetti, played with Marlow the big German shepherd, hung out and figured out who was sleeping where, it was somewhere close to midnight. We have to get up when??? Dwayne, Ben, Doug and Jill wanted to leave at 5am. Thank goodness we decided on leaving at 6am. A petite flower like myself needs her sleep—and has to get in a good shower.
Day 2 – Tuesday, July 31st
Kaw Point -Starting line
Race day!!!! I woke up excited, and a little bleary-eyed. Shane already had his game face on. Very little talking, serious, urging us to get out the door. Our gas tank was almost on empty and I was just hoping to get there before the car puttered to a stop in the middle of the highway. Fortunately we made it there and followed everyone to the river front—a little too far. I went down a boat ramp that I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to into the crowd. By the time we realized it, it was too late. A car has already followed me down the ramp, and I couldn’t back up. Oh well, might as well use it to our advantage! We unloaded the board and immediately started attracting looks as people noticed that we didn’t have a traditional boat. After an official directed me to get my car out of the way, we helped Shane get his board down the ramp and into the water.
I heard a lady ask, “What is that?” A little voice, a boy around 7 or 8 answered, “Oh, I know! It’s a board and you stand up on it and paddle it.” Wow! I guess it IS getting more popular! We met another good friend of Shane’s, Joe and his niece Madeline who was his ground crew. She along with Ben would prove to be great comrades-in-arms during the race. Shane pushed his board into the water, followed it out and dunked himself under. Sigh. The river stink starts. Couldn’t he have waited to get wet? Shane went way out, then over to the side near some brush and pulled out his surprise. Donning a yellow and black luchador mask, he paddled along the shore, calling out Wally from Los Humongos Paddleos. The crowd got a big kick out of it, and Shane ended up in the KC newspaper. The debut of El Agua Escorpion is a hit!
At 7am, after the national anthem and a shot of a musket and a cannon, off they went. Almost 200 solo paddlers dashed down the Kaw River toward the Missouri River. Michael and I decided to stick around and watch the multi-paddler group leave an hour later. That’s when the things got interesting. Wally from Humongos Paddleos came by in full luchador costume.
Some of the vessels were, um, unusual. The catamaran. The canoe that was so long that it was two pieces and had to be bolted in the middle so it could be taken apart to be transported. The boat where each paddler had a canopy over their heads. Whispers along the bank: “They’re going in THAT? They’re never going to make it …”
I’m sure many people said the same about Shane. Actually, the phrase I heard again and again was, “He’s crazy.” Or the variation on that: “That’s crazy that he’s doing that.” Shane’s crazy and what he’s doing is crazy. Yup, that about covers it.
After a few fun photos with the Musket Man, Michael and I decided to get on the way to the first check point, Lexington, MO. And that’s when the fun started.