Partnership volunteer Tom Simmons competes in what's considered world's longest non-stop river kayak/ canoe race
Water Quality Manager
Missouri American Water
Volunteer Position: General, PEAC Reviewer
Five Directors Award plants:
North WTP – 2001 | South WTP – 2001 | Meramec WTP – 2001
Joplin Blendville WTP – 2001 | Jefferson City WTP - 2002
Distribution Program Charter Member
Location: Chesterfield, Missouri
This summer Tom Simmons, Water Quality Manager with Missouri American Water, competed in the Missouri River 340 (MR340) kayak/canoe race from Kansas City to St. Charles, Missouri.
The event claims to be the longest non-stop river race in the world. Heat, exhaustion and mental struggle are just some of the formidable obstacles Simmons faced; not to mention wing dykes, buoys, and barges that he encountered. Missouri American Water, Tom’s employer, has been the primary sponsor for the race for the past three years. In fact, the race is officially titled the Missouri American Water MR340.
Start of the MR340 kayak/canoe race on the Missouri River
with just some of the 350 competing boats in view.
Simmons has been fortunate to participate and represent Missouri American Water in the race for the last two years. In 2012, extreme heat and a low river made the race very challenging. In that race Tom and a co-worker manned a tandem kayak and somehow they managed to survive their first MR340. This year, Tom opted to go it solo. The mental part was a bit more daunting without someone to talk to and share the misery with, but the real issues for the 2013 race were once again: a low river and some fairly significant headwinds. But Tom didn't complain very much since he was fully aware of how difficult it would be to finish the race, especially within the allotted timeframe of 88 hours.
Tom Simmons, Missouri American Water Quality Manager, Partnership volunteer, and Kayak racer
Simmons finished in 66 hours (crossing the finish-line in 30th position in the men's solo category). This is a good time, but he knows he can do better – and it must be noted that the final 10 to 12 hours were really ugly. Of the 350 or so boats that started the race this year, only 180 boats finished by Friday night’s deadline. The race benefits three river education and preservation groups: Missouri River Relief; The Healthy Rivers Partnership; and the Lewis and Clark Nature Center and Boathouse.
Now, Simmons is already making plans for 2014. More, and better, training – as well as a faster boat are his goals for next year’s race. As Tom said, there’s always room for improvement and he’ll be 60 years old in next year's race. The goal: to beat his age.
Congratulations, Tom, on a well-navigated race and we all raise a paddle to your adventurous spirit! Thank you for your contributions to the Partnership for Safe Water and for participating in an event that raises public awarness of the importance of water.