DAY 4 – Thursday, August 2nd
Not a checkpoint, but still 245 miles into the race
View from the crew
As told by Karen:
It was a rough drive to this dot on the map (is it SHAM-mee or sham-WAH?). After dodging some backyard fixtures, we doubled back and found the access road. Upon arrival, we immediately went to sleep. I ended up somehow draped across the front seats with seat belt buckles poking me, and Michael slept in the grass again. At least he got smart and completely wrapped himself up before lying down so the bugs wouldn’t eat him up. It looked like a body bag on a hill. In any case, we only got a couple of hours of sleep again.
Shane had texted me at 3am that he was falling asleep on his board and was going to stop and sleep for a while. Dwayne hadn’t decided to stop there, but Joe did, so Madeline showed up after sunset (which was beautiful over the river). Eventually Shane made his way in, tired but in good spirits. He made requests for food for the next stop (always a good sign, none of the racers wanted to eat in the brutal heat), and I actually got him to do some personal hygiene. He brushed his teeth and took a shower—with soap! But then he put all his gross racing clothes back on. Sigh. It’s like a dog rolling in the dirt after you give him a bath. Can’t win them all, I guess. Elissa had sent a short video of the kids that I showed Shane, and I heard a few “awww”s out of him.'
"The vids and pics from my wife are what get me through races"
The window of every long race that is the toughest for me is between 2am to about 4:30 am. I literally have fallen asleep while paddling. When I start to dip to one side and my balance is off, I startle myself awakw then try not to fall off. This year, surprisingly I didn't fall off. Maybe I've gotten smarter. But after texting Karen I paddled about 5 minutes and found a sand bar and pulled the board up and on. I put on a windbreaker and pulled the hood on. The take my floppy Columbia hat and drop it on my face to shield from bugs. I took a short nap of about 15 minutes which is longet than my usual 8 minute nap. I was feeling pretty crappy on top of sleep deprived. The first night took alot out of me from being sick and basically peeing out my butt for hours. Then I couldn't eat for a few hours. I got behind on my hydration that nigh so I had to catch up through the next day.
After Shane shoved off once more, Michael and I piddled around again, taking some more crazy pictures. Someone came by and asked if knew what the name of the city was about. Michael immediately came up with a story about John Chamois in the 1800’s, and how he made a towel out of a leather hide or something ridiculous, but he sounded really sincere and knowledgeable. Our jaws dropped. “Is that true?” the man asked. Michael started laughing, “No, I just made it up.” I think he could’ve gotten away with it if he hadn’t cracked a smile. We finished up and piled back into the car, bidding adieu to Madeline. Hermann, here we come!
Hermann, MO Checkpoint 7
269 miles into the race
We knew we were getting close to being done when we made it to Hermann. It was a short trip down the river since we broke it up by stopping in Chamois. We stopped at a store to get the food Shane requested, then hit Hermann. Shane was closing in on the Hermann Checkpoint as told to us by His wife via text. It was drizzling now, thankfully cooling things off a bit (if the 90’s can be “cooled off”). I saved half my rib-eye sandwich, thinking Shane would like it. We were trying anything we could to make sure he was eating good solid food. When he did show up, the first thing I offered was the rib-eye, which he gobbled down. His feet were terribly sore. It had been a battle all race long. He had gotten some new shoes from the local Comumbia Shoe rep, Mark Panu, and hadn’t broken them in. His wide feet were rubbing along the edge of his shoes and the outside of his feet were extremely sore. We had tried icing, wearing flip-flops, anything and everything we could. But he was in a good mood since he found out Pau Hana, one of his sponsors, had released a trailer of a documentary about him and it was getting a lot of response already.
La Ruta Maya Trailer
After eating, he decided to take an “eight-minute” nap. He went up on a bank and passed out, right there in the grass and dirt. Sure enough, eight minutes later, he gets up, refreshed.
We decide to break up the next leg of the race again and stop at another access point. After Shane leaves, we point Jane towards Washington, MO.
One thing that I've yet to figure out is footweat. The Columbia drain maker's I wore for this race were great, except they weren't wide enough and I didn't break them in. They tore my feet up terribly.
Being on my feet for so long, under my feet got rubbed raw and then later scabbed up. Then the rubbing of the toes ended with my toe nails falling off.
Washington, MO Not a check point
But 292 miles into the race
Washington may be one of the biggest non-checkpoints in the race, and a great place to stop on the second-to-last leg. The weather swung between being sunny and humid and being overcast and humid. Time dragged on. A larger motor boat (don’t know if it was an official spotter boat or not) pulled in from up the river and we asked if they had seen Shane—he’s not that hard to miss. “Oh yeah,” one of them said. “He was on a bank, totally passed out, then all of a sudden just popped up and got on his board and paddled.” I later got out my camera and showed the picture I took at Hermann of him lying in the dirt and grass. “Did he look like this?” I asked. They laughed, “Yup, that was him!”
At this point I was still in good spirits, but physically pretty beat up. The heat was 102-106 degrees each day. It really sucked the life out of me. I was told alot of people had dropped out due to the heat. I just dealt with it. Once a day I'd hit a point where my body just needed to shut down. I've learned through racing thet 8 minutes is my lucky time frame. After 8 minutes of laying in the dirt I'd jump up with the alarm and just get on the board and go.
AsShane was paddling up to the boat ramp. There was nowhere to really dock the boat without destroying the fin underneath, so Shane told Michael to take it to the dock nearby. “You want me to carry it?” “No, just paddle it over.” Didn’t have to ask Michael twice! His moment of glory: paddling the board 25 feet to the dock. Shane’s feet were still a mess, and we decided a new strategy. We took Michael’s foam pad, whicj he had been sleeping on, and folded it a few times, duct tapied it to the board so Shane could stand on it barefoot. Shane scarfed down half the sandwich, talking to Ben and some others there while I ran to the car at least four times. It seemed I didn’t have any of the things Shane needed and every time I went to the car, I always forgot something. Was I really this unprepared? Or are we just changing things on the fly?
Klondike, MO The final checkpoint
311 miles into the race
It was Thursday evening, and we could feel the end coming.
Soon the time came for Shane to come in. Madeline had pulled in, and went down to the boat ramp with us. When I had asked Shane a few weeks earlier what to get at Walmart, one of his more sarcastic answers was “assless chaps”. I actually found a pair at the party store. I put them on, along with a cape, and the El Agua Escorpion luchador mask. Sure enough, when he pulled in, he burst out laughing. He nicknamed me “La Agua Pequena”—The Little Water. I guess that’s like a petite flower.
After 20 minutes at the checkpoint, I sent him off with the same battle cry I had given at every stop (except Waverly): “Rock the water!!!”
Non-racers may not understand it, but racers do. When you pull into a checkpoint the best thing you could receive is not tangible. It's just seeing yor crew. For me, it's everything. Familiar faces and voices do heaps for me. It energizes me more than any food or drink. Just a few minutes with them gets me going.
This year, the costumes karen wore just changed it all. I was laughing my butt off for hours after I'd leave a checkpoint. The costumes were inside jokes that most people didn't get. I think that's what made me laugh even more!
Moving into DAY 5 – Friday, August 3rd
When we drove over to The finish, we found Jill (owner of Piddle Paddle LLC) had made it from KC to St. Charles to see the finish, a pleasant surprise we hadn’t known about.
Jill with Shane at an Earlier Checkpoint
The wait began. It was hard to see anything, but we were on pins and needles, eager to see Dwayne. I thought I saw him and started cheering him on, “Bring it home, Dwayne!” After a moment someone said, “I think that’s a rock.” Michael tested it out. “Marco!” He stopped and listened. No answer. Boy, was I embarrassed. Dwayne finally came around the last wingdyke and pulled in to our clapping and cheering. He officially was 17th, although at the time we thought he was 18th in men’s solo. Top 20! A HUGE accomplishment! Go Dwayne! He took a well-deserved shower and hung out with us on the beach, waiting for Shane and Joe and getting absolutely slap happy with Ben.
Dwayne (grey Shirt) and Ben
We continued to wait. I had figured on roughly a 1:30am finish time for Shane, but starting seriously watching the shoreline for him at 1am. His time the year before was 1:39am, and he was hoping to beat it. However, factoring in the heat and the fact that the river was flowing slower than last year, we figured he blew away his time from last year, relatively speaking. Elissa texted that he was under the 364 bridge. We glued our eyes to the darkness, looking for lights to come down the river. Every time we saw one, our excitement soared, only to find out it was another kayak or canoe. Finally—FINALLY—we saw the lights that could only belong to a stand-up paddleboard. I got my phone turned on to video and we started cheering. We could faintly see the outline of him, paddling for all he was worth, finishing strong and trying to break his record. And then everyone saw it—the cape and the mask. Huge laughter from the bank. With a grand flourish, El Agua Escorpion ran off his board and onto the bank---then turned right around and went back into the water to grab his board which was floating away. He dragged it onto shore to applause and cheers. And his time: 1:41am. SOOOOO close! We were so incredibly proud of him.
. We let Shane do the rounds while Michael and I loaded the board on top of the car and everything else into the car. Shane wandered over eventually and climbed in, lying on the backseat. Both boys fell asleep as soon as I turned onto I-270. I honestly don’t know how we got home, I was so tired. We finally made it to Shane’s house, throwing everything in the garage. Elissa came out and I showed her the finishing line video. Shane went in to bed, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before work, and Michael and I left for home. I was a little more awake on the drive home, and collapsed into bed at 4:30am Friday morning. I woke up somewhere around noon later that day.
My first thought: “That was awesome! When do I get to do this again!” Then I took out my phone and looked through the pictures for the hundredth time.
My Awesome crew: Michael and Karen. A huge thanks to them for this one!
The finish was a relief and a let down. I was happy to be back to normal life and to see my family soon, but sad I wasn't going ot be on my board the next morning. I missed beating my last year's time by 3 minutes. Considering the river was flowing half the rate as last year, I'll consider it progress.
It was a tough race and a definate proving ground for ultra distance on a SUP. A proving ground I'd like to invite any other brave Stand Up Paddle boarder to try. Just let me know and I'll help in any way I can. firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out rivermiles.com for more info. Registration starts January 1st.
I'd like to thank some folks for their hand in making me successful:
My wife and mother in-law Patti for all their support. They take care of the kids and hold down the fort while I'm training or racing.
Pau Hana http://pauhanasurfco.com/ for making a fast and sleek board in the 14' Crossfit!
Maui Jim: http://www.mauijim.com/ For their "canoes" style shades
Surfco Hawaii: http://www.surfcohawaii.com/ For the rubberized proteck fins and ez plugs to hold gear to the board
SlickSup: http://slicksup.com/SlickS_UP/SlickS_UP.html For making an affordable and effective co-polymer wax that makes the board slick and faster
Radio Chum: http://distressedmullet.com/radio-chum-2/how-to-listen-to-radio-chum-the-worlds-first-247-stand-up-paddle-radio-station
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