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story.lead_photo.caption MR340 participant Gary Sanson, of Excelsior Springs, gets back on the water Wednesday morning, Aug. 5, 2020, after being among the early group of paddlers to first stop in or pass the Jefferson City checkpoint. Photo by Julie Smith / Fulton Sun.

Several hundred paddlers will begin traveling 340 miles on the Missouri River for the 16th annual Missouri American Water MR340 starting July 20.

All racers must make it to the finish line in St. Charles by July 23.

The race was moved to early August last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, race organizers have set Aug. 24-27 and Sept. 21-24 as backup dates.

Last year, a total of 350 boats set out from the starting point in Kansas City.

Participants are allowed 85 hours to complete the course. There are checkpoints along the route where paddlers are required to sign in and sign out. Cutoff times are associated with checkpoints based on the 85-hour pace. To finish the race in 85 hours is considered a huge accomplishment, as only two-thirds of the teams were able to do so last year.

The record for completing the race is 33 hours.

The river current is about 3 mph, and the biggest hazards to paddlers are motorboats, mostly fishermen, and the occasional towboat pushing barges, race officials said. In-river obstacles would include wing dikes, buoys and bridge pilings.

Once again one of the check-in spots will be Wilson's Serenity Point at the Noren Missouri River Access in North Jefferson City.

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