As the lesser half of a husband-and-wife team that comes up with crazy ideas—to wit: buying Missouri Life and starting Big BAM—I find it comforting to know that there are other crazy people out there doing similar things. For example, imagine paddling a canoe down the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles—340 miles—in 88 hours.

From August 8 to 11, 450 crazy people will paddle down the Missouri River in canoes, in kayaks, and on stand-up paddleboats—all competing against each other and themselves in the MR340 race.

I kept wondering how this event (I will try not to use the word “crazy” again) got started. I know these things just don’t start themselves. Some person who is you-know-what gets an idea in his or her head and just can’t stop thinking about it. He or she usually jumps in—sink or swim— and does it. Yep, that’s how these things always start. So I tracked down the guy who thought that racing for 340 miles down the Missouri River was a good idea.

His name is Scott Mansker. He started floating on the Missouri River with friends in 1989, when he was twenty years old. The first year, they made it to Glasgow; the next, Boonville. Each year, they got a little farther. At some point, Scott got the big idea: “Let’s do a race!” Just like Big BAM was modeled after Iowa’s RAGBRAI, Scott modeled the MR340 after the Texas Water Safari—a 360-mile race on the San Marcos and the Guadalupe Rivers—and a race in Canada called the Yukon River Quest.

“The first year was 2006, and we had eleven people show up,” Scott says. “The next year we capped it at seventy-five, and it sold out immediately. Then, 150 the year after that. Now, we are up to 450.”

Events like this help drive the economy of our state, especially when participants from other states and countries join in the fun. Scott says an unofficial survey by the Missouri Department of Economic Development a couple of years ago showed that the MR340 was pumping close to a million dollars into Missouri’s economy.

The MR340 support crews are a big driver of dollars pouring into our communities, as the support boats load up supplies at local stores and businesses and eat out at local restaurants and bars. “It’s kind of like a three-day party for the support crews,” says Scott.

If you want to get a birds-eye view of the race, check out Paul Jackson’s “Floating Dreams MR 340.” He filmed the race from start to finish two years ago using an aerial drone.

It’s good to be a little crazy, right?