The MR340 holds a rightful place as one of the most arduous events in the country — aptly so because its name describes the event. Entrants paddle 340 miles in three days down the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Louis.
For the Platte County Paddlers, the MR340 became a family event and led to a memorable finish last month with help from a new boat, a back injury and an inspired solo effort.
Brothers Joe and Rusty Coons of Camden Point, and their brother Dan, working as their ground crew, competed in the race last month. The world’s longest river race, the event kicked off at Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kan. on Aug. 12 and wrapped up in St. Charles, Mo. Missouri American Water sponsors the event, which draws paddlers in their kayaks and canoes from all across the country — and the world. “I started paddling much the same as many other Missourians in the clear rivers in southern Missouri,” Rusty Coons said. “I am an adventurer at heart so I was looking for something off the beaten path. In 2010, I was in the early planning stages to go summit Mount Rainier. While researching it, I found a list of the top 40 adventures in North America in National Geographic. On the list was something I had never heard of right in our back yard — the MR340.” Joe Coons said his involvement is entirely his brother’s fault.
“He had seen that it was listed in a National Geographic as one of their top 100 adventures,” he said. “That was in late 2011 when we started discussing completing it, and pretty soon, it was an obsession.” The brothers signed up for the 2012 race and started preparations, including the purchase of a 12-foot aluminum boat located through The Citizen’s classified page. “We got down to business with getting in shape, both of us mostly doing cardio and running,” Rusty said. “Joe got in shape by training and doing half marathons. We weren’t very smart in our paddling prepping. We didn’t get in the boat nearly as much as we should have” Luckily, the boat was fairly forgiving to beginners, although heavy. “That boat probably weighed 300 pounds at least,” Joe said. “We were really naïve about what we were getting ourselves into. It was miserably hot that year as well with temps around 102 to 103 degrees during that day, but seeing how beautiful the Missouri River truly is and getting to know the other racers had us hooked for sure.”
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