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Missouri River 340 racers find hospitality in Miami

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6

In an e-mail message Thursday morning, an event volunteer offered more details.

"By midnight the entire park was filled. People were looking for places to camp in town. There was only room to drive into the park and turn around," said Dave Arends, a member of the Miami City Council. "Boats were coming in until noon the next day. One team pulled in late in the night driving a canoe made almost entirely out of blue plastic barrels. It was quite a sight!"

Arends said the volunteers shifted gears at 4 a.m., as planned, going from grilling hotdogs and hamburgers for hungry racers to flipping pancakes to fuel them up for the next stage of the race.

According to a race blog entry Karin Thomas's prediction came true that the Andersons, already with a commanding lead when they stopped in Miami, would win the race and set a new men's tandem record.

"According to co-race director Travis Worley, Pineapple Express crossed the finish line today at 12:29 a.m. in first place. They broke the previous men's tandem record time of 42 hours and 32 minutes," said Brian Nordli.

David and Will Anderson approach the Miami landing shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Miami is one of eight checkpoints on the Missouri River 340 race.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

"Boat! Boat!"

Miles Allred, 2, repeated the word over and over as he watched with awe the Anderson brothers -- David and Will -- and their support crew rig lighting and replenish food supplies on the tandem kayak.

His great-grandmother, Dorothy Glavin of Marshall, said Miles loves boats, and she brought him to the right place -- the Miami landing on the Missouri River to watch the Missouri River 340 racers stop at the checkpoint there.

The Anderson brothers reportedly had about a half-hour lead as they pulled into Miami, and one race organizer, Karin Thomas, said she expected them to break the men's tandem record if they were able to keep up the pace.

The Andersons arrived shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, just as the sun was setting. After a 10-minute "pit" stop, they hit the paddles again, planning to forge ahead until they reach the end of the race in St. Charles.

Miles Allred, left, and his great-grandmother, Dorothy Glavin, watch as Missouri River 340 race leaders David and Will Anderson prepare for night paddling. "He loves boats," Glavin said of young Allred.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
"That's the longest stop they'll make," said Dan Grubbs, a support crew member for Team Invictus, which consists of top kayaker, West Hansen, and teammate, Katie Pfefferkorn.

"They're smokin'," Grubbs said of the Andersons.

Miami is the 104-mile point in the 340-mile race and is one of the eight checkpoints racers must stop at along the way.

The people of Miami enjoy the annual visit, and for the past three years city officials and volunteers have provided food and good company to the growing number of racers who participate.

Thomas said the first year 15 boats started the race and 12 finished. Last year about 130 participated, and this year "we opened registration up for 200 boats January first and by the 15th we were full."

She said about 250 boats started the race Tuesday morning and only a few had dropped out by nightfall.

Miami volunteer Liz Elson said the race is not only getting more popular, but it's also getting better. And so is the Miami checkpoint operation.

John Thomas, right, a Marshall High School graduate, and partner Will Reeves pull their tandem kayak onto the Miami landing Tuesday, Aug. 4, during the Missouri River 340 race.
(Contributed photo)
"It is just an amazing event. The organizers of the race ... do a heckuva job," she said. "I think we get better as the race gets better. We get more practice anyway."

Working out kinks in the logistics of feeding the growing number of racers, support teams and spectators has presented challenges, she said, but getting electric service to the site helped.

"Last year I made 300 cups of coffee, going up to the community center and back down," she said. "It's a lot of work, but it's been a fun thing."

And it's an event perfectly suited for Miami.

"We just basically do it because of interest in the river. We are a river town," Elson said. "We get to meet a lot of nice people. We wanted to participate."

Miami Mayor John Bakert, who was helping coordinate volunteers cooking and serving food, said the best thing about the race from his perspective is the opportunity it provides for the townspeople to work together.

"It's a community effort. Everybody pulls together," he said, pointing to two volunteers cooking hamburgers and hotdogs. "They do it every year. All night. We cut off about 4 a.m. and start cooking pancakes" to serve racers before they hit the river again.

Billy Joe Narron was on hand, too. Narron coordinates efforts between the city of Miami, the race organizers and Missouri Department of Conservation.

Michael Thomas was there as well, waiting to greet his son, John Thomas, a 2004 Marshall High School graduate and senior at the University of Missouri who was in a tandem kayak with Will Reeves.

Liz Elson, left, and Miami Mayor John Bakert stop for a moment Tuesday, Aug. 4, to talk about why the community loves the Missouri River 340 race, which gives the town a chance to come together to provide hospitality for racers and spectators.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Thomas said the MR340 was John's first race. He said John had apparently gotten serious about kayaking recently.

"Last year he was up in Alaska and got a sea kayak. He went 20 miles to an island by himself," Thomas said.

He said the two had been training by taking 50-mile trips on various sections of the Missouri River.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

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I always look foward to the food at Miami. This year I had fresh cantaloupe, coffee, and pancakes. I might have been also had a hamburger there but some points are still a bit fuzzy. The bonfire though was A new touch and a much welcomed sight to this cold, soaked and tired racer.

Thanks for helping to ensure the succcess of the mr340 and your hospitality.

-- Posted by warrior ant press on Mon, Aug 10, 2009, at 5:55 PM

Go John Michael! Over 1/2 way this evening. Proud of you!!

-- Posted by katie76 on Thu, Aug 6, 2009, at 12:50 AM

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