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Ultra Marathon Paddling: Tips on preparing for the MR340 and other irrationally long races

Presentation by Bryan Hopkins

NOTE – This is the FIRST Tuesday this month!

10 years ago Bryan Hopkins was in the first batch of racers to attempt the Missouri American Water MR340 and has grown to be a consistent contender in Missouri River races. He’s going to provide tips on preparing your equipment, boat, body, brain and heart for endurance paddling races. This is going to be a great talk whether or not you ever intend on tackling a paddling race.


A foggy morning on the Missouri River near the mouth of the Osage River. During the 2013 MR340. photo by Steve Schnarr

Time and Place

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by Bryan Hopkins, MO. Dept. of Natural Resources and veteran kayak racer

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 (NOTE – this is the FIRST Tuesday this month)

If you intend on coming early to purchase an amazing dinner at Les Bourgeois Bistro before the presentation, PLEASE call to make a reservation at: 573-698-2300 and…tell them you are with the Big Muddy Speaker Series!

Presentation is FREE and open to the public!

One of the premiere paddling race courses is right in our backyard – the Missouri River. This July will be the 10th Annual Missouri American Water MR340 – a non-stop ultra-marathon paddle race across the state of Missouri from Kansas City to St. Charles. When the first MR340 was run in 2005, there were 16 boats. This year there are over 400 boats signed up. At the time the MR340 was the first race of its kind on the Big Muddy. Since then, there’s been an explosion of races up and down the Lower Missouri and the Missouri River paddling community, once a bunch of isolated groups of people crazy enough to paddle the big river, has found a way to find each other.

Bryan Hopkins was in that first batch of racers 10 years ago, and has grown to be a consistent contender in these long flat river races. He’s going to provide tips on rigging your boat for distance racing, nutritional strategies, training, and fundamentals such as boat selection and race strategy.

He’ll also discuss the unique challenges of racing the Missouri River,  such as dealing with night travel, wind, heat, insects, fog, barges, jumping carp, wing dams and staying in the channel.  Plus, he’ll share stories of his experiences on these grueling adventures.

Even if you don’t plan to do these crazy races…this talk will give you insight on what it is like to paddle straight thru for hours and hours on end and the surprises the river reveals about itself and you.


  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO
  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in upstairs in the restaurant. The restaurant is no longer open on Tuesdays but the bar is! You are welcome to bring your own food or snacks.

Resources & Links

Dig in for more info on this topic:

Canoe and Kayak Races on the Missouri River

Missouri & Mississippi River Water Trail information

Some Great River Paddling reading – articles and books

Missouri River Paddling guides and outfitters

The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

is hosted by these wonderful partners.

Click here for a list of upcoming presentations»

Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Columbia Ecological Services Field Office (USFWS) and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.