03-26-2008 12:09 PM CET - Sports

Team forms to tackle world’s longest non-stop paddle race

Press release from: Dan Grubbs
PR Agency: The Wordwright Shop

KANSAS CITY, MO. – March 25, 2008 – Two women and two men have formed the first mixed-gender team entry in the Missouri River 340 (MR340), what organizers call the “world’s longest non-stop river race.” The experienced kayakers, who have all paddled ultra-marathon events in solo or tandem kayaks, will take on the challenge in a specialized four-person racing canoe to race the 340 miles of the Missouri River from Kansas City, Mo. to St. Louis, Mo.

“Joining together with three other experienced paddlers to take on the Missouri River is an exciting proposition for all of us,” said Dan Grubbs, 45, of Kansas City. “After one completes this race, just finishing isn’t the enticement anymore. Now, we want a place on the podium.”

Joining Grubbs are Di McHenry of Ironton, Mo., Christina Glauner of Lawrence, Kan., Zaiham Abdullah of Kansas City, Kan. Experience is on the team’s side. McHenry is the four-time Missouri state downriver whitewater champion and also the mixed tandem record holder for the MR340. Glauner is a two-time veteran of the race and the women’s solo record holder of the Gritty Fitty, a 50-mile marathon race on the Kansas River. Abdullah was part of a kayak crew to set the men’s tandem record in the Gritty Fitty and another 35-mile race on the Kansas River and has been on dragon boat teams in Malaysia. Grubbs, a river advocacy proponent, is a solo veteran of both the MR340 and the Gritty Fitty.

According to Grubbs, the ultra-marathon race is fraught with challenges. “When someone paddles for three days straight, you tend to experience the symptoms of sleep deprivation added to extreme physical and mental fatigue,” he said. “We’ll draw on the strength of all four of us to get through the moments when you just want to stop and sleep.”

The race, scheduled for July 15-19, already has 125 kayaks and canoes registered to compete. Race organizers are petitioning the U.S. Coast Guard to add more boats for those who are on the waiting list. This is the first year the race has had a team division.

The Missouri River is a commercially navigable river under the authority of the Coast Guard. Barge traffic, pleasure boats and anglers all add to the challenges of navigation that a very powerful river can produce. “You can’t afford to make too many mistakes on a river like this,” Grubbs said. “There are wing dikes, bridge pilings and jumping Asian carp to deal with while trying to keep the boat on course and maintain a constant stroke rhythm.”

The team is currently looking for sponsors to help defray the cost of the boat, ground crew support, race fees and supply costs. “This is a great opportunity for a business to gain valuable media exposure during the race,” Grubbs said. “There are eight check points and the start event and finish banquet where a sponsor could have its brand exposed to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and supportive fans along the 340 miles of this race.” The team also has a blog where sponsors can place banner ads and have links to their own Web sites. Team members post entries about their training and other paddling information.

Dealing with the summer heat and dehydration is part of what Grubbs calls the character of the MR340. Yet, he said, paddling at night can be both peaceful and dangerous. “Last year a mixed tandem team was run over by a river barge due to a variety of factors,” he said. “For me, however, nighttime was my favorite time to paddle.”

Pushing the team to the finish will be top paddlers from all over North America in solo, tandem and team divisions. According to Grubbs, there are some marathon paddling athletes that will be tough to beat. “There are two teams from Texas paddling six-person boats and there are some solo paddlers who can flat out fly in their boats,” he said.

Dan Grubbs
1221 Pheasant Ct.
Liberty, MO 64067
Dan Grubbs

The Wordwright Shop is a boutique communications shop providing internal and external communications consulting at the strategic and tactical level. Contact the Wordwright Shop at thewordwrightshop@yahoo.com.

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