Friendly competition on water benefits Missouri River Relief

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JEFFERSON CITY - Paddlers of all ages took to the waters of the Missouri River Saturday for the eighth annual Race to the Dome canoe/kayak event.

The fundraiser benefits Missouri River Relief with proceeds supporting its efforts to reconnect people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups, education and recreation. 

The race had two starting points - a 15.8-mile course from Hartsburg to Jefferson City and a 27.6-mile course from Providence to Jefferson City with both races ending at Wilson Serenity Point at Carl R. Noren Access on the north side of the river. 

This year there were 103 boats registered in the race with 151 paddlers and nine states represented. One paddler in particular, Churchill Clark, paddled a handmade dugout canoe which he called "Juicy Lucy". Churchill is the 5x grandson of explorer William Clark. 

Kent Robinson is a volunteer for Missouri River Relief and he has lots of positive things to say on the organization's behalf.

"It's a great cause. They clean up the river all the way from Omaha all the way down to St. Charles," Robinson said. "It's just a great organization and they do great work."

The majority of Missouri's drinking water comes from the Missouri River. Ron Ladzinski and Mira Doneva have participated in the race several times and are always conscious of the good cause. 

"It's everybody's drinking water," Ladzinski said. "If everybody can have a healthy relationship with the river, you've got good drinking water and a nice serene park." 

"I don't think people realize that the majority of the drinking water for the state of Missouri actually comes from the Missouri River," Doneva added. 

Upon completion of the race, paddlers enjoyed lunch and ice cold beer. Prizes were awarded for the winners of each division and medals were awarded for first, second and third place finishers in all divisions.