HUNTSDALE — They greeted the sun rising over the Missouri River. Huddled around a campfire at Katfish Katy Campground near Huntsdale, they anxiously anticipated the arrival of their family and friends, searching down the river with binoculars.
The grounds crew members of the Missouri River 340 provide the momentum racers use to keep going. As family and friends of the racers, the grounds crews are responsible for providing racers with food, water, ice, medication, caffeine and most importantly, moral support.
Some grounds crewmen, like Armando Siliceo-Roman of St. Louis, have notebooks full of specific instructions including maps, essentials and various contact information. His racer, Mark Bramer, requested items such as cheeseburgers and barbecue beef sandwiches at various checkpoints along the route.
“I think I owe him money,” Siliceo-Roman said when asked how he became a member of Bramer’s ground crew. This is his first year helping his friend get through the race as a member of his team.
When Bramer arrived at the Katfish Katy's checkpoint this morning, he was anxious to see his friend for food, fresh clothes and emotional support.
“They’re incredible,” Bramer said, speaking about all members of his ground crew. “We all have a lot of help from others.”
Valerie Doggett of Columbia also works as a grounds crew member. Her son, Colin Doggett, is competing in the men’s solo division of the race. A veteran to her job, Valerie Doggett has followed her son as he has participated in two other river races throughout the country this year.
“I’ve done enough races to know what he wants,” she said.
His sister, Alexis Doggett, has found that her experiences as a member of Colin crew has sparked her interested in river racing as well.
“I’m becoming more and more interested in racing,” Alexis Doggett said. “It’s nice to be near nature.”
Volunteers from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife also assisted racers at the Katfish Katy's checkpoint, where they were responsible for checking the racers in and out. They monitored the river conditions and ensured the safety of the participants in the race, as well.
The Katfish Katy's checkpoint is new to the race this year. Previously, Cooper's Landing near Columbia was used as the checkpoint location. The location was moved from Cooper's Landing due to high water levels.