Local MR 340 participant Team 680 on homestretch of bike-canoe journey

 David Ganey, right, and Tod Wilson beach their canoe Wednesday during the MR 340 River Race at the Carl R. Noren River Access. Ganey and Wilson are Jefferson City natives, and this is their second time participating in the race.
David Ganey, right, and Tod Wilson beach their canoe Wednesday during the MR 340 River Race at the Carl R. Noren River Access. Ganey and Wilson are Jefferson City natives, and this is their second time participating in the race.

David Ganey and Tod Wilson of Team 680 were looking forward to returning home this weekend after a week of biking and paddling through Missouri.

"I am going to take a shower and hang out with my family," Ganey said when the News Tribune caught up with Ganey and Wilson via phone Friday at a lunch stop for hamburgers along the Katy Trail.

"I'm going to have a little bit of a celebration dinner with my children," Wilson said. "My family and my home will be a nice place to be after a week," he said. "Physically, I feel great. I'm actually pretty elated to be off the river and on the home stretch, so to speak," he added.

The two men paddled in the MR 340 race, finishing in 20th place in the men's tandem division out of about 110 teams. Tackling the Missouri River from Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas, to St. Charles in 59 hours and 48 minutes was literally only the half of it, though.

Ganey and Wilson also biked with their canoe named "Serenity Now!" in tow from Jefferson City to the start of the race, and likewise on the way home. They took on the name Team 680 to reflect the distance, and have the goal of raising money for the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation.

The journey to the start of the MR 340 had its challenges.

They had to stop three times in a torrential downpour before reaching Independence to bail rainwater out of their towed canoe because it was getting too heavy to pull.

"We got a lot of looks. We got stopped by the police in Waverly and Lexington," Ganey said.

"Apparently, they got several phone calls about citizens' concerns about our safety," Wilson said, noting police just wanted to be sure they were as safe as possible.

"They were trying to kind of tell us we shouldn't be doing what we're doing," he said. They explained to the officers they knew what they were doing wasn't exactly normal, but they had to press on.

Once they got their canoe in the water, Ganey said, the team got some unexpected support. "Other teams were really, really helpful on the river," he said.

Usually, at each safety stop along the race route, teams have support crews who provide them with food and water, he explained. Team 680 chose to rely on vendors at each site or pack their own sustenance, but other teams volunteered ice-cold grapes and energy supplements. "Other teams got behind us a ton," he said, especially when they learned of the causes they were supporting.

Wilson said some teams pulled up to them in the middle of the Missouri River and offered them aid. "The paddling community is really very tight," he said.

Ganey said the second day on the river was a little tough, as they had paddled from Kansas City to Jefferson City without stopping to sleep. He was dehydrated, but they got about four hours of sleep before pressing on.

A barge carrying a crane and pylons at a bridge construction site over the river at Washington gave them a bit of a scare.

"Generally, when a barge comes out and you're in a canoe, you need to get off the river," Ganey said. However, in that particular spot, they didn't have that option and had to ride out the vessel's wake. "That was a hairy moment. That was probably the scariest moment in the boat."

The weather cooperated, though, and gave them a good wind at their backs. While the original plan was to finish the MR 340 in 65-70 hours, Ganey said "with conditions and the way our bodies felt," they decided to "put the hammer down" in the last 25 miles, finishing in less than 60 hours.

"We've got some sore muscles, to say the least," he added.

As of about 5 p.m. Friday, Team 680's GoFundMe page noted they had raised $2,130. Ganey said he hadn't had a chance to check it given sparse internet coverage, but he hoped people would continue to contribute at gofundme.com/team680.

Other local men also made notable finishes in this year's MR 340.

In the men's solo category, of about 220 registered competitors, Jefferson City resident J.D. Moore finished in 60th place, with a time of 67 hours and 13 minutes. Gabe Craighead, of Fulton, finished in 40th with a time of 61 hours and 12 minutes; Nicholas Wagner, of Freeburg, was 33rd in 59 hours and 40 minutes.

In the team division, of more than 20 teams registered, Missouri American Water took second place. A team boat has three or four paddlers or pedalers in it, and Missouri American Water had Albert Owens, of St. Genevieve; Pete Matschiner, of St. Peters; Brent Haas, of Jefferson City; and Brian Russell, of Maryland Heights. They finished in 50 hours and 52 minutes.

The Whole Nine Yard finished fifth in the team division. That team was comprised of Joey Gerbes and Steve Taylor, both of Jefferson City, and Kyle Scheer, of Ashland, and had a of 56 hours and 45 minutes.

Full results can be viewed at raceowl.com/MR3402017/RaceResults.

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