Floating Is All There Is To It, Right?

The MacKeen Family vs The MR340

MR 340 Thought for Day 3: “All the kayakers have to do is float down the river all day.” – Sandy Sandi

When I began to plan for the MR340, I thought, “All I have to do is organize food and supplies, look at the map and guide book and drive to a checkpoint and wait for hours.” How hard is that? I even brought projects to do, thinking I would have time for them. Hasn’t happened yet!
A month ago, when the MR 340 was going to be in July, I got my RV license. My sister-in-law Sandi, who has previous experience driving large vehicles, gave me some informal lessons.
From Day 1, Sandi and I have been extremely busy planning our route, and then having to change it when things didn’t go right. You don’t want to miss a turn in a motor home…have you ever tried backing one up? With a trailer attached to it? Or a burning car in your path?

Scary Mari, Sandy Sandi
We came up with “handles” for ourselves. I’m Scary Mary, and she’s Sandy Sandi. Explanation: I told my oldest daughter Nikki the other day, “I’m really getting the hang of driving the RV.”
She responded, “How do Kaity and Jarod feel about your driving?” Hmmm…I asked them. Their response: “Scared.” “Terrified.” Hence the handle! However, Jarod was sleeping when he was supposed to be navigating today. Looked pretty relaxed to me!
The other day, Sandi was driving us to the checkpoint in Glasgow. We had inadvertently printed an older MR 340 guide book, so the directions were a little off. We turned too early at one point, and ended up in a Sand Plant. I remember Sandi saying, “Oh, this is not the checkpoint, I’ll just turn around here. We might get into a little sand.” A little sand! Well, let’s just say after a tow truck got us out, we were fine!

GlasgowHermannOff into the Fog, Katfish Katy 2
This morning, we saw the kayakers off into a light fog at Katfish Katy. Each time we saw the teams, they all seemed in fairly good spirits. They should be; they have moved up in the ranking! On Day Two they were #176 and #179 out of 283. On Day Three they were #135 (RED-E Oar Knot) and #138 (RED-E Set Go)! They got in fairly early at Hermann, MO, around 9:00pm. We are had a good night sleep!

On day 4 the thought for the Day: “We got this!” – Nikki MacKeen

We Got This!

We’re all pumped! Teams were up at 5:15am, left Hermann by 6:00am. Crew waiting for teams at Klondike, MO. They should be here by about 1pm. Not even getting out of the boat; crew bringing them tea and crumpets…no, just kidding, sandwiches and coffee.
When Nikki got out of the boat, she put her fists in the air and yelled, “We got this! Only 27 miles!”
The air was full of anticipation and excitement. There was a ceremony at 7pm, we were excited to receive our final results. We ended as #163 RED-E Set Row, and #164 RED-E Oar Knot (out of 283 teams). The teams tied for 14th place in the Mixed Tandem (out of 22). We did pretty good for our first time!

Klondike Boat RampSmiles 2


Huge shout-out goes to Perry from the Alpine Shop! For all his training and help, we couldn’t have done it without him!
It’s been quite the adventure!



Till next time,

Mary Mackeen


The Secret To Getting (The MR340) Started

The Mackeen Family vs The MR340


The thought for Day One of the MR340: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

The Race Begins

Last night we considered parking our RV at a nearby WalMart, but opted instead for the parking area by Kaw Point, a stopping point for Lewis and Clark, and for the MR340. Right by train tracks, and heard the loud whooshing and rattling of trains on the track all night. Despite that, most of us slept pretty well.

Ground crew up at 5:20am to make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Coffee, pancakes, oranges, and we all piled out to get teams and kayaks to the river. A DJ playing upbeat music, Lewis and Clark reenactors walking around in costume, and even a flying GoPro whizzing over the river made for an animated early morning scene. As the 8am start neared, the DJ shouted over the loudspeaker to “Get your boat in the water!” About 250 boats of various sizes and colors filled the river, the Kansas City skyline in the background.

The mayor spoke, and several in 1800’s costume shot off guns to start the paddlers. With the crowd yelling and gun smoke filling the air, the paddlers were off! I managed to get some pictures of both teams, RED-E Oar Knot and RED-E Set Go before they followed the pack down the river.

Jarod and Kaity have been making awesome food, and were a great help to the teams, getting them down to the starting point on time. I had heard from Rich via cell phone, and Nikki and Chris via the Safety Boat Crew (not to worry, no problems, just no phone!) that both were due at the first checkpoint in Lexington, MO around 3:30pm. We arrived safely there at 2:00pm, after a few errands. Sandi and I took turns driving the RV. I did pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Here We Go! (2)What am I doingKaity

As we began day two of the race the thought of the day was “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. Heather said, “This has been the worst day of my life! But it was fun!” The first day is the toughest day. It’s the longest, at 105 miles. Even if you don’t finish the entire race, even one day is an accomplishment. And at the end of it, there are blisters, sunburn, sore muscles, exhaustion…you get the picture.

IMGP0010DiBruno Bros 1RED-E Oar Knot Day 2

RED-E Set Go (Rich and Heather, had it reversed yesterday!), and RED-E Oar Knot (Nikki and Chris) made it to the third checkpoint at about 1:30am! So, technically the second day. You can keep up with their progress on www.raceowl.com. Currently, RED-E Oar Knot (Nikki, Chris) are 176 out of 283 teams and RED-E Set Row(Rich, Heather) are 179!

Kayakers have to make it to a checkpoint by a certain time. The “Grim Reaper” Safety Boat (how’s that for ironic?) gets to each checkpoint by the deadline. If you end up behind the Grim Reaper, you are out of the race! The deadline for the third checkpoint, Miami, MO, was 11am today. So they were safe! And worn out.

As Jarod and Kaity, our youngest children and ground crew, waited at the boat dock with me. Jarod  helped a safety crew member carry his kayak to a large grassy area. Those who were staying the night there kept their boats in this place. Safety crew have been so amazing and helpful, working round the clock.

Josh Race 4

Our son Josh who lives in Colorado is lending his support by racing with the USAFA Cycling Team while we race on the Missouri River.

We may be tired and sore but we are still in the race! We’ll update you on Day three as soon as possible!


Mary Mackeen

Red-E Oar Not, Here We Come

The Mackeen Family Versus The MR340

Here we go! The MacKeen Teams are ready for the MR340. We had our kayaks on a trailer behind our RV, and were on our way to the starting point in Kansas City, KS last night. After we had a safety briefing in Kansas City at 7pm and a good night’s sleep, we have an 8am start for all racers. There are currently around 250 boats racing in the MR-340. If the race had taken place last month as originally planned, there would have been closer to 400 boats (we lost some, as not everyone could get the time off).

We are nervous and excited, and looking forward to the bonding time we will have as a family. Rich is anxious to hear the peaceful sounds of the river as he paddles with his daughter Heather. Siblings Chris and Nikki are packed, ready to go, and relishing the thought of passing father and sister!

Drivers Sandi and Mary have studied the map and are ready to meet the teams and supply them. Jarod and Kaity, well, they’re just looking forward to a little R & R with no home chores! But they know there will be many short crazy times of hard work, followed by long stretches of waiting (they’re already planning bike rides, and kicking a ball or throwing a Frisbee around). Josh is waiting patiently in Colorado Springs to hear news, as he cycles and goes to classes.

Here’s a question: How many times do you think the MacKeen Teams will get hit by flying carps?

Stay tuned as we update you daily on our adventures on the Missouri River, and we’ll let you know how many carp we catch! Tom and Huck didn’t have nuttin’ on us!


-Mary Mackeen