If river levels don't get too high Tuesday, some 600 paddlers are scheduled to launch their boats in the Missouri American Water Missouri River 340 river race.
From Kansas City, Kansas, to St. Charles, Missouri, the racers will paddle 340 miles across the state, celebrating the importance of the river to Missouri's environment and as a source of drinking water to millions of people.
One of National Geographic's Top 100 American Adventures, the 12th annual river race combines extreme sports and environmental stewardship. Race proceeds benefit three environmental stewardship and education organizations: Missouri River Relief, the Healthy Rivers Partnership, and the Lewis and Clark Nature Center and Boathouse.
Racers are expected to be in Jefferson City on Wednesday with leaders likely to arrive in the morning and a steady traffic of racers arriving throughout the day at the Noren Access.
Winners will likely arrive late Wednesday evening to early Thursday morning in St. Charles. Racers will continue to arrive throughout the day Thursday and through Friday with the awards presented Friday night.
Heavy rains predicted for this weekend could push the river levels up, which race organizers said would work against racers, making the course harder to get through with more debris in water stirred up by the rains. In 2014, the race was postponed for a few weeks due to unexpected high water levels.
Participants are allowed exactly 88 hours to complete the course. There are nine checkpoints along the route, where paddlers are required to sign in and sign out. Cut-off times will be associated with these checkpoints based on the 88-hour pace. Failure to meet checkpoint deadlines is grounds for disqualification. To finish this race in 88 hours is a huge accomplishment, as only two-thirds of the teams were able to do that last year.
To follow the race and see how paddlers are doing, visit rivermiles.com/mr340/race-tracking/.