Third Missouri River 340 Bigger Than Ever

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This year’s event will include a “team” category for canoes and kayaks with more than two paddlers.

scott [at] rivermiles [dot] com, 913-244-4666. (Missouri Dept. of Conservation photo)” src=”×300.jpg” alt=”At 8 a.m. July 15, more than 130 canoes and kayaks will shove off from Kaw Point, across the Missouri River from Kansas City. Those who reach St. Charles, Mo., by noon July 19 will join the extreme-sports elite who have completed the world’s longest nonstop water race-the Missouri River 340. Winners can take home cash prizes of up to $2,000, but the real payoff is the self-discovery that comes from pushing beyond the limits of ordinary human endurance. To learn more about joining or watching the Missouri River 340, visit, or contact Scott Mansker, scott [at] rivermiles [dot] com, 913-244-4666. (Missouri Dept. of Conservation photo)” width=”199″ height=”300″ />JEFFERSON CITY-If you are fascinated by events like the Tour de France and the Indianapolis 500, you might also enjoy the paddle-sports equivalent of those two events. Missourians can enjoy that kind of extreme entertainment without leaving their home state.

The Missouri River 340, the world’s longest nonstop river race, will start at 8 a.m. July 15 at Kaw Point, at the mouth of the Kaw River in Kansas City. For some competitors, the race will end less than two days later at Riverfront Park in St. Charles. Those who take longer than 100 hours to paddle 340 miles across Missouri’s midsection will have the satisfaction of knowing they competed but will not be official finishers.

When the Missouri River 340 started in 2006, it drew a modest 15 entries. Seventy-six canoes and kayaks took part in last year’s event. This year’s race already has 76 entries in the men’s Solo division alone. In all, more than 130 teams or solo paddlers have entered the race.

The event’s phenomenal growth is partly due to its extreme cachet. The Missouri River 340 draws paddlers from around the nation. Another draw this year is the addition of a division for teams of more than two paddlers and at least two divisions in which contestants will compete for cash prizes. Top money in these sponsored divisions ranges from $500-$2000.

Dehydration, bleeding hands, hallucinations and dodging barges in the dark all are part of the “fun.” Stories of heartbreak and redemption abound, as fierce competitors of all ages and walks of life push bodies and minds beyond the ordinary limits of endurance. For many, the race is more about self-discovery than about competition with others.

Mandatory checkpoints along the course provide an opportunity for spectators to view the spectacle close-up. Historic river hamlets designated as mandatory checkpoints for competitors also abound with antique shops, pubs, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and other diversions for spectators.

For more about adventures of last year’s participants, see the June issue of Missouri Conservationist magazine at Details about this year’s event are available at or by contacting Scott Mansker, scott [at] rivermiles [dot] com, 913-244-4666.

-Jim Low-