Jeff Barrow, 51, of Columbia is paddling solo in the Missouri 340 for the first time this year. Barrow coordinates river cleanups for Missouri River Relief, so he’s familiar with the area. He said he has done a fair amount of fun paddling and whitewater racing, but this race presents a new challenge for him.
“Most of my river trips I don’t paddle hard,” he said. “I just like to paddle the current and lay back and drink a bottle of wine.”
Barrow didn’t race last year because he was busy with a book project, but he said he would have jumped at the chance to race.
“People came back with some good stories, and that type of challenge appeals to me,” he said. “These type of people relish that painful challenge. The same type of personality that would climb Mount Everest.”
Barrow has borrowed a low-profile solo racing canoe.
“Wind won’t slow me down, but I’m more likely to get swamped by waves,” he said.
He has been working for the past month to prepare for the race, getting out on the river as much as he can for hours at a time.
“I used to be an athletic trainer, so I know what kind of shape I need to be in,” he said. “I’m a crusty old bachelor, and I have the type of job that allows me to be able to go out and do 12- to 24-hour practice runs.”
Barrow doesn’t have any special sort of strategies for the race other than getting on the water and staying there.
“I’m like a Sioux warrior going on a vision quest to see what I have inside,” he said. “I just plan on pacing myself.”
His main goal is just to finish the race.
“When you’re done there’s just an elation of accomplishment,” he said.