JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The 18th annual Missouri River 340 race was canceled Wednesday as paddlers passed through Jefferson City on their way from Kansas City to St. Charles.
Race organizers said in a statement posted online that the weather prompted the cancellation.
"A rising river, increased driftwood and debris (including large trees), flooding tributaries, a storm with very heavy rain targeting the final 100+ miles of the race combined with nighttime paddling and no moon light combine with other variables to make this decision," the message says.
The kayak, raft and canoe race began Tuesday and was scheduled to continue through Friday. Over the last two days, Mid-Missouri has been experiencing scattered storms and in some areas flooding.
The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather team is forecasting the possibility of more strong storms with heavy wind and rain Wednesday night.
Crew member for boat #555, John Davy says his kayaker experienced rough weather conditions yesteday.
"The weather was quite tricky last night. We were at Glasgow and he put in for about an hour to let the lightning go by, then he got back into the water and he's been there ever since," Davy said. "He's been going since about 1 a.m."
Executive Director of Missouri River Relief tells us that this while races have beeb postponed in the past, this is the first time that its been cancelled mid-race. Steve Schnarr says that they made this decision because they are tracking that the storm would cover the next 100 miles of the course.
"Another third storm system is expected tonight, covering about the last 100 plus miles of the racecourse expecting four to five inches of rain, and the combination because there really hasn't been large flooding events in these dry past couple of years, there's a lot of debris and wood piled up on the banks." Schnarr said. "Really, any one of these factors alone wouldn't be enough to postpone the race, but really all of them together, created an untenable situation for a race that proceeds overnight.
Many of the racers were going through Mid-Missouri on Wednesday, including the checkpoint at Jefferson City.
The MR340 is sponsored this year by Missouri American Water and was put on by the Rivermiles crew. There are also volunteers working the checkpoints, making sure that the racers get food and water. The race is hosted by Missouri River Relief, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect people to the Missouri River.
Each racer raised at least $200 as part of registration and that money will go toward Missouri River Relief river cleanups and other recreation events.
According to MR340's website, four of the past 15 races were postponed due to weather-related issues.
Missouri River Relief had 20 safety boats stationed at various points along the race course. Some of them moved down with the paddlers and some were stationed at specific boat ramps, according to Schnarr. The organization also had boats checking in with all of the paddlers.
"You know, and a lot of the racers saw the storm last night. Luckily the storm last night didn't it mostly didn't hit the river," Schnarr said. "So but people could see the power of that storm. And the storm tonight is supposed to be similar to that."
There are six paddle stops throughout the course and six checkpoints before reaching the finish line. The course is 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles and is the longest continuous river race in the United States.