Wow! Was I proud to witness my nephews paddling into the St. Charles Landing. They were part of the flotilla that took on the “Wide Mizzourah” this week in the 340-mile endurance race across Missouri from Kansas City, known as Missouri River 340.
Read more below from Don Corrigan’s tale about his nephews and their river race tribulations before finally landing close to the Lewis and Clark statue in St. Charles.
We have covered this race before and there are always some brave folks from our area who take on the challenge. In 2010, we (Webster-Kirkwood Times) covered Carol Heddinghouse and Abigail Tuttle, who came within minutes of winning the women’s tandem division of this great muddy water race.
Tuttle of Shrewsbury told how the duo ran into driftwood, barge traffic, fog and bone-chilling cold in the wee hours of the morning on a journey that takes at least two 24-7 days. I loved her story of going under the Page Avenue bridge and seeing eight boats ahead of her in the river race.
Still, it’s hard not to savor, even more, the river stories of boys you’ve watched grow up. Boys who you used to wrestle with at holidays and took to Six Flags on those hot summer days that follow July 4th celebrations.
My nephews, the Hartman boys – Kyle, Clay, Craig and their good friend, Robb Heineman, made a number of stops at the designated Missouri River checkpoints, which included Glasgow, Cooper’s Landing, Jefferson City and Klondike.
Things only started getting dicey for the canoe crew when a tug and barges appeared to be bearing down upon them. The vessel’s beam light seemed to be telling them to take to shore in the Hermann area.
Not long after this encounter, sleep deprivation began to take its toll. I won’t go into all the details of their hallucinations, but there was talk of water moccasins, yellow submarines, whirlpools and eddies that reversed the course of the river several times.
Somewhere around Klondike in the following day’s sunlight, a rowdy motor boater started intentionally making waves. He capsized two other crews, but my nephews’ canoe stayed upright, despite rocking from high waves from the river menace.
The boys called their canoe, “The Ship of Fools.” They chose that unflattering moniker because of their last-minute decision-making and obvious inexperience. But they made it into St. Charles in time for a celebration.
They landed not far from that bronze of Lewis and Clark, with the plaque that talks about the celebration and dance in honor of the Lewis and Clark voyage in the Year 1804. I told Kyle’s young son, Nick, about the bravery of the voyagers Lewis and Clark. However, The crew of “The Discovery” did not have to contend with monstrous barges and mad motor boaters that challenged “The Ship of Fools.”
See more photos on Don Corrigan’s Facebook page HERE.
Background On Missouri River 340
Imagine a race across the entire state of Missouri, just you and your boat crew thrown against 340 miles of wind, heat, bugs and rain. This ain’t no mama’s boy float trip. This race promises to test your mettle from the first stroke in Kansas City to the last gasp in St. Charles. Just entering it will impress your friends. Finishing it will astound them… and winning it? Well, you always thought you were sort of a legend anyway, didn’t you? It’s time to prove it.
Thanks to the United States Coast Guard, the river is marked over the entire course with mileage and channel markers. It is almost impossible not to know, within a mile or less, your exact location. At a pre-race meeting and safety check, racers are briefed on how to read these markers, how to handle a tow and barge passage and what constitutes public property on the river. Paddlers are also provided with a series of dispatches leading up to the race with details on training, strategy and safety. Last year’s dispatches can be found HERE.