COLUMBIA – Steve Kullman had never even been on a kayak when he decided to train for the 2009 Missouri River 340 Race, a four day, 340-mile race along the Missouri River.
What: Premiere of “The Next 340 Miles of Your Life"
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt St.
Bryan Hopkins was the opposite. He’s been paddling his whole life and spends a lot of time on the river. He said his decision to enter the race for the fourth time was obvious.
For those not included in the nearly 500 racers who paddled their way from Kansas City to St. Charles in the world’s longest continuous river race, there’s still a chance to experience the journey.
The world premiere of “The Next 340 Miles of Your Life,” an independent film documenting the travels of the racers, will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ragtag Cinema.
Jodi Pfefferkorn of Flaming Fiddle Productions produced the film. Pfefferkorn followed the racers in a motorboat and filmed most of the documentary with just one camera.
“I filmed as much as I possibly could, and I put it together in a hopefully entertaining way,” Pfefferkorn said. “The racers were really cool about letting me do my thing. We all kind of worked together.”
Pfefferkorn said she wanted to show the many sides of the race.
“It’s a lot of different kinds of people doing the race,” she said. “It takes some people 80 hours to finish, and it takes some people 30 hours. I want viewers to see that normal people can do it, and it’s hard as hell.”
For Kullman, the race was more of an adventure than a competition.
“It doesn’t have to be a race,” Kullman said. “Just having the guts to start the race makes it worthwhile.”
He said it became rewarding when he gave up the race and got some sleep.
“I wasn’t hitting my goal,” Kullman said. “I was 12 hours behind, but then I finally gave up on my goal and finished it as an adventure. That’s what changed everything for me.”
Hopkins said he did his first MR340 race for the experience, but with every additional MR340 he took on, he became more competitive. This year, Hopkins placed second in the men's tandem category.
“Doing it for an experience and doing it to be competitive are two very different experiences,” Hopkins said. “The sleep deprivation and the go, go, go; it takes a big commitment (to compete).”
In addition to the racers, the film also features the friends and families of the racers, otherwise known as the support systems.
“My family and friends provide a lot of support,” Hopkins said. “It’s like a NASCAR team.”
Tickets are $3, and the film will be followed by a question-and-answer forum with the producer, race organizers and veteran racers. The documentary is presented by Missouri River Relief, Rivermiles, Flaming Fiddle Productions, Missouri River Communities Network and Ragtag Cinema.