A message from Derrick Weisbrod, CEO and Co-Founder

Many of my messages so far this year have focused on project planning, goal setting, and being flexible enough to recognize the need to pivot in order to meet goals that were set many months ago. Today I am hugely pleased to report on one goal I’ve been referencing: that of completing the MR340 River Race and raising money for Lydia’s House St. Louis.

The set up: The MR340 is a 340 mile canoe and kayak race on the Missouri River from Kansas City, MO to St. Charles, MO. You are allotted 85 hours to “finish” the race successfully.

Lydia’s House is a St. Louis based charity that supports women and their children who are escaping from domestic violence through offering safe and stable long-term housing, financial education and support, counseling, family support through childcare and tutoring, and career training and support.

All packed and gabbing lunch the day before the race.

My goal was to finish the MR340 in under 50 hours and raise $5,000 for Lydia’s House.

As with any lofty goal, it came down largely to planning, preparing, and organization. My pre-race training included hand splitting all of the firewood needed for the coming winter, shoveling about 20 truckloads of pea gravel, and lots of paddle trips. The longest trip was 70 miles on the Missouri river with my race mentor and friend, Diane McHenry.

Of course I also needed to secure healthy calories for the long haul, which meant asking my beloved sister Emily for her expertise. She did a dynamite job of executing, and her baked veggie combinations delivered fuel I could feel and gave me a great burst of energy. On a 340 mile race, your body is a power plant that needs the right kind of fuel to keep it operating at a high performance level.

On the river, before and after the race, my support team included my brothers Dustin and Henry who were ninjas at getting me resupplied and back to racing at ten different points along the 340 mile route. Envision a Nascar pit crew; paddler stays in the boat and they resupply me with water, calories, and electrolytes. In and out in 2 minutes! When it was time to stop on the first night after experiencing multiple mechanical failures on the first 70 of 100 miles they had a warm fire, pork tenderloin and a cozy tent ready to go for me while simultaneously having a hammock and bedding for me should I need it. I broke my kayak paddle at mile 28 of the race and had to paddle with one blade for the next 22 miles – not ideal, to say the least!

No sooner did I get my paddle situation resolved and got back to cruising down steam my rudder broke creating an extreme amount of friction to fight. At the checkpoint 20 miles downstream we attempted a patch, which failed after 3 miles. I faced the adversity the best I could but lost a few hours of time and was completely wiped out by the time I got to Glascow. I chose to accept the warmth of the fire, pork tenderloin and the very cozy tent on a night that got down to 52 degrees in the beginning of August.

After a cold, foggy morning, I set out at 5:30am. From the time I got on the water Wednesday morning I didn’t get out of the boat again until I finished the race on Thursday morning at 6:50am, allowing my support team to continue to execute with a high degree of precision while also getting minimal sleep along the way.

My post-race after care team included a good friend of mine and my wife’s, Colleen, who got the support team and I fed with an awesome breakfast and space for much needed rest along with buying me some flip flops, as the heels of my feet were quite bruised from staying in the kayak continuously. My wonderful wife Lee retrieved me and brought me home and fed me again and was a superstar at dealing with my body's aches and stiffness for the following 24 hours.

I got thru the race listening to playlist made by Colleen called Paddlin, Lee's Swamp Dad Rock, my mix of grassy jammy tunes, Hank Williams III, Arkansauce., & Mountain Sprout. Hank and Mountain Sprout, and the Sauce got multiple listens as I know lots of the words to the songs and singing helps get more oxygen to the muscles.

I finished fourth place in the men's solo division at 47 hours and 50 minutes exceeding the goal I had of finishing in under 50 hours, which is a very impressive time for anyone competing in this grueling 340 mile ultramarathon.

My second goal was to raise $5000 for Lydia’s House to support them in their mission to help victims of domestic violence in the greater St. Louis community and I am happy to say between my GoFundMe campaign and the donate button available on Facebook that goal has been surpassed!

If you would like to congratulate me for this race, making a donation to Lydia’s House would mean a lot. My specific fundraising goal may have been met, but the work goes on, never ending, day by day. I would love to see my actions have a lasting impact by making others in my community more aware of the need and wonderful work done by Lydia’s House.

Much love!

Derrick Weisbrod

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