St. James - Local chiropractor Gerry Mitchell isn't exactly what you would call an “alpha male,” and he doesn't have the stature of a professional football player.
St. James - Local chiropractor Gerry Mitchell isn't exactly what you would call an "alpha male," and he doesn't have the stature of a professional football player.
But he can row 340 miles in 58 hours and 21 minutes in a kayak in relatively calm waters.
So if manhood is proven with brawn, he proved it a thousand times over without breaking a sweat.
This is exactly what he did at the recent Missouri American Water MR340 from Kansas City to St. Charles along the Missouri River. His kayak, along with 265 other boats, braved the summer heat to compete in this world famous river race.
Mitchell, who competed in his first race ever, finished 12th out of 135 in his division and 27th overall out of 265.
During an interview with the St. James business owner, who admits he loves the idea of a good challenge, he was surprisingly humble about his accomplishment.
"I started at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday and finished at 5:21 a.m. on Thursday," Mitchell said. "It was a lot of work. My goal was 60 hours, so I exceeded that some. I really didn't have a goal to place."
The idea to compete in this particular event came to Mitchell last August. Mitchell had taken up kayaking and he "loved the challenge." Once his wife, Susan, gave her "blessing" on the idea, he began training in December.
Much of his training was done on Little Prairie Lake, the Osage River and the Missouri River.
Mitchell also trained at night when the moon was full, as the competition is scheduled during a full moon.
"He slept on sandbars, but I think the whole time he only got about three hours of sleep," Susan said. "I was his ground crew, so I was there at checkpoints to refuel him and see him off.
"There were so many people there. There were people from all over the United States and a few different countries."
Susan said she wasn't crazy about her husband braving the elements on the river, but eventually, he convinced her that it was worth it.
"At first, but he told me he wanted to do something big.
"And we were driving over the Missouri River, and I looked down and I said, 'there's no way I would let you kayak.'
"And then about two weeks later, he showed me how safe it was and all the things they do, and I said well – you know – but when you see this race, it's really awesome."
Mitchell is uncertain as to whether he will compete again, but this was definitely an experience he will never forget.