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The first canoe in the MR340 race docked in St. Charles Wednesday evening, after leaving Kansas City Tuesday morning. 

Phil Bowden and Chris Issendorf, both of Texas, set a new course record in 34 hours and 34 minutes. 

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About 600 people set out in canoes and kayaks Tuesday morning from Kansas City, Kan., for a day-and-night marathon race down the Missouri River to St. Charles.

Conditions were hot and humid Tuesday for paddlers in the 10th annual MR340 race, which winds 340 miles along the river to cross the state.

Rick Gibson is helping a St. Louis-area team by meeting them at checkpoints in a truck stocked with food, water, ice and Gatorade. He said his truck’s temperature gauge read 96 degrees Tuesday and said there was “typical Missouri humidity.” Still, he’s lucky.

“I get to sit in the air conditioning,” Gibson said in a phone interview. His brother, Jeff Gibson, and St. Sabina Parish grade school pal Tom Rooney were paddling in the heat as entrants in the tandem division.

The weather is expected to cool down Wednesday.

The marathon draws participants from all over the U.S. and Canada. Paddlers are required to finish in no more than 88 hours with top finishers completing the course in about 40 hours. Failure to make the maximum allotted time requirements through nine check points results in disqualification. Boats in the back of the race set the pace for participants.

Only about two-thirds of paddlers make it to the final checkpoint in St. Charles.

Several dozen people from the St. Louis area are competing this year. Among them are Jeff Gibson, a former Navy SEAL who has competed solo in past years but wanted to team up with Rooney this year.

Gibson and Rooney expected to finish Thursday afternoon. The duo might end up at Crown Candy after they land in St. Charles. That’s where Gibson has celebrated in years past with a BLT and chocolate malt.

Jack Witthaus is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch