River racers battle water, sweltering heat - KCTV5

River racers battle water, sweltering heat

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Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Nima Shaffe Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Nima Shaffe
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Nearly 500 paddlers from as far as Belize to Denmark are fanning out on the Missouri River Tuesday, putting their bodies and skills to the test on the world's longest nonstop river race and they're doing it all during expected triple-digit heat.

The excitement was building Tuesday morning at Kaw Point in Kansas City, KS, for the MR340, a 340-mile trek for canoers and paddlers down the winding Missouri River.

"I don't think I've ever done a race where it's this hot so it'll be interesting," Andrew Condie, last year's winner and current participant of the MR340, said.

Tuesday morning's launch marked the fourth time Condie's paddled his way down the Missouri River – he's part of a team of six taking to the water where he's joining more than 540 others from across the globe in over 375 canoes and kayaks.

"We've been educating them via email for months about what to expect," Scott Mansker, an MR340 organizer, said.

Mansker started the Missouri River 340 race seven years ago – it begins in Kansas City, KS, and will end in Saint Charles, MO. Every year racers have been dealt a different hand when it comes to the weather.

"Last year's race we had a whole different batch of issues, like we were going to have people who were freezing," Mansker said.

This year is far different from last with athletes like Condie wondering how they'll stay cool. Forecasts for the race call for temperatures to be 100 degrees or higher, but Condie said he has some plans for trying to stay cool.

"We'll get ice packs at the checkpoints, wearable ice packs you kind of drape around your neck and that hang down your chest," he said. "Try to keep your core temperature down, jump in the water to cool off."

With most racers finishing on Thursday and others on Friday, along the way participants will have help and support to stay strong despite the unbearable heat that will challenge the athletes.

"About every 30 miles we have a checkpoint and the communities have usually set up big concession areas with ice, and water and cheeseburgers and so there is relief if you can survive that five-hour stretch in-between," Mansker said.

The proceeds from this year's race will benefit the Missouri River Relieve, the Healthy Rivers Partnership, and the Lewis and Clark Nature Center and Boathouse.

Click here to track the race.

Click here to view a slideshow of participants at the race's starting point Tuesday morning.

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