Traffic was heavy Saturday morning on the Missouri River, as more than 100 canoes and kayaks participated in the annual Race to the Dome.
The event had 175 participants in 130 boats, according to Christina Ruiz, race director for Missouri River Relief. MRR is a nonprofit that organized to engage individuals and communities along the river in exploration, enjoyment, restoration and care of the river though education, stewardship and recreation.
It organizes cleanups along the river banks, and Saturday's race acted as a fundraiser for its programs.
"It supports our education programs, our large-scale cleanups and our recreational events," Ruiz said.
MRR held a cleanup (which was based in Jefferson City) about a year ago, she added.
There were two races to Jefferson City Saturday -- one which started at Hartsburg and one which started at Providence Landing. There were about the same number of racers in each race, Ruiz said.
Kevin Tosie, MRR operations director, added Saturday marked the 13th year of the Race to the Dome.
The organization hosts larger and much more competitive races, Tosie said, but the Race to the Dome is good for all canoe or kayak abilities.
Saturday marked the third year in row that 11-year-old Wyatt Fletcher of Wentzville had participated in the race.
His team, "Wyatt Are We Doing This?" includes Wyatt and his grandfather, Dan Frisch of Springfield.
The pair won their class in 2022. Final results weren't available when Wyatt spoke to the News Tribune, but he thought it was likely the team finished second Saturday.
"We were hoping to defend our title -- we won the kid/adult class, which wasn't a big deal -- but we also won overall the last two years in a row," Frisch said.
Wyatt said he'd been training for the race.
"We go out on Fellows Lake and just paddle," he said.
Mary Stubbs, of Columbia, said she improved Saturday, the second time she paddled in the Race to the Dome.
"I finished third," she added. "The first time I did it, I finished 10th, I think."
She said she uses a recreational boat, but managed to improve her time over 2022 by about an hour for the 16-mile race from Hartsburg.
She said she participated in the Paddle MO Capitol to Capitol trip, a five-day, 100-mile event in which participants paddled from Hermann to St. Charles.
"That was a training workout," Stubbs said. "Paddle MO was about 20 miles a day."
Among the early finishers was "Three Peas in a Pod," a team of three women from Columbia and Jefferson City.
Doris Guillory of Jefferson City said the team is made up of three friends who paddle in the race every year.
"We'll win our category," Guillory said. "We just do it for fun."