If you ask Scott Swafford, 45, what drove him to paddle for 100 hours in the Missouri River 340, he’ll tell you that with his long history of canoeing in Missouri, this race may well be his destiny.
“The day I heard about the race, I knew as soon as I heard they were doing it that I wanted to do it,” Swafford said. “If they’re going to have a 340-mile canoe race in my home state on a river I’ve been around my whole life, well then I have to enter that.”
The first time around Swafford, who is also a city editor for the Columbia Missourian, had some difficulty finding a partner, and eventually it was decided that his wife, Lisa Swafford, 46, who works as the supervisor at the Columbia Driver’s Examination Station, would do it with him rather than let him do it alone.
“It was kind of something we could do together, and I know he really wanted to do it,” Lisa Swafford said. “And if I come along then at least I know he’s not doing anything stupid.”
Last year the Swaffords were forced to withdraw due to storms and the loss of their ground crew. The boat they used last year turned out to be inefficient for racing and long-distance purposes. The 17-foot, 75-pound plastic Old Town canoe, known by the family as “The Barge,” couldn’t get much faster than six miles per hour in last year’s race, Scott Swafford said.
This year they aren’t taking any chances; they bought an 18.5 foot Wenonah Jensen V1A mixed tandem racing canoe. The Kevlar frame weighs a little less than 35 pounds. In addition, they’ve got new bent-shaft paddles and a new determination to finish.
“God forbid we don’t finish it this time, we’ll be back again to try,” Scott Swafford said. “Like I said, I don’t really have a choice in the matter, it’s just something I have to do.”