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Getting the chance to go anywhere that involves Personal Watercraft is a must do for anyone. The times I have been on the water have been some of the best memories as a journalist. This summer I was invited to enjoy another event with Kawasaki and found something fun to add to the yearly event list.
Not only did the event involve the most powerful production PWC on the water, but it also helped a great cause that was an influence in my younger years. Kawasaki had joined the Three Rivers Run (Osage, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers) to not only support the Tri-County YMCA in Osage, Mo., but to also reveal the winners of their “Step up to 300 Challenge” with NASCAR racer and all around great guy Clint Bowyer. Clint has a home on Lake of the Ozarks and also owns several Kawasaki Jet Skis himself, including the mighty Ultra 300X. This was to be a great day of riding and I couldn’t wait to get started.
We arrived on Monday evening but our official run down the Osage to the Missouri River wouldn’t start until Wednesday morning. This left us plenty of time to enjoy Lake of the Ozarks with our friends at Bridgeport Jet Ski. Bridgeport Jet Ski has been on Lake of the Ozarks for many years and Darrell Law has spent 25 seasons as a member of the team there. In 2007 Law bought into the company that had been his priority for all those years. Bridgeport Jet Ski is the only official Kawasaki Jet Ski dealer on the lake so needless to say he stays busy. Law, along with his brother Dale, who works as the business manager for the local Marine Max dealership, and his crew had arranged a trip around the Lake onboard the beautifully expensive Sea Ray Sundancer 500 from the local Marine Max dealership. This is where I would first meet the winner of the Kawasaki 300X, Shawanda Collins and her brother Jack. During our tour on the Lake I learned that they are from Miami, Fla. Shawanda had entered the Kawasaki “Step up to 300 Challenge” contest via the Internet and was excited when she learned she had won. She brought Jack along to enjoy the experience with her.
After a short break Tuesday afternoon we hopped back into the Sea Ray and headed out to Dog Days bar and grill for the pre-ride silent auction and meeting. Plenty of very cool gifts and sports memorabilia had been donated to the auction to further the fund raising efforts for the over 2500 youth that are serviced by Tri-County YMCA each year. Several local celebrities, including Clint Bowyer and Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill, would bring even more excitement to the auction. This was a perfect night to enjoy the atmosphere and make new friends.
The Three Rivers Run is an annual event that was originally organized and is still managed by Tim Seebold to help the local Tri-County YMCA. In years past the ride had encompassed three rivers as the title claims and it was originally planned to be about 240 miles long, which is incredible for a day on the water. This year’s event would have to be cut short though, due to floodwaters on the mighty Mississippi River. Wednesday morning we made our way down to the Bagnell Dam ramp to begin what would be a memorable trip for sure. The Kawasaki Hauler had already beaten us there and with a forklift the Kawasaki team began skillfully unloading the awesome Ultra 300X and 300LX machines that we would be riding.
This machine is slated as Kawasaki’s latest and greatest, but more importantly it was the most powerful production Ski on the water! With a new Eaton supercharger this thing hauls the mail, my friends. The stock speed limit is around mid sixties but it gets there in the blink of an eye! The new boost can be in upwards of 17.3 psi and torque ratings are around 200 ft-lbs. This machine is truly the king of the mountain and I was ready to let it rip!
The ride leaving the Dam area consisted of a section in the river that was very shallow which meant slo-go for a short piece but as we ran further northeast the river began to become deeper. There were 58 total registered PWC on the water along with two small jet boats that joined us later on down the Osage, but it seemed like over a hundred. The first fuel stop was only 31 miles away by water and it was the first time we realized how thirsty our 300X would be during the day. The organizers had fresh fuel and oil for those who needed it as well as bottled water and sunscreen. As the day went on it became apparent to me that the amount of time and effort it takes to get just under 60 boats down this river is incredible. You always wish for more just so the money raised would be more but it takes a small army now to get things done and I couldn’t imagine what it would take to get even ten more watercraft down the river. These people work hard to give each rider a great memorable trip!
As we reached the Missouri river just past Bonnots Mill the 300X began to really shine. With tremendous waves and wake the two rivers collided with a vengeance and the 300X was ready. This was more of the type of water and rough current that the hull on our 300X was designed for. The sheer size of the Osage was impressive but the Missouri had a look and feel of overwhelming proportions.
The river took us on a journey of over 200 miles in one day but on that long stretch of water many friendships were made and many more were reacquainted with old friends from previous rides. The Three Rivers run has had 17 years of success and I’m sure it will have many more.
What did I take away from this experience you might ask? Well, I was given the opportunity to ride the waves with great people and friends for a great cause. I also watched as a popular racecar driver made himself available to anyone who asked. Bowyer took time to build a relationship that I’m sure a young boy and his sister from Florida will never forget. It’s that kind of humbleness that should make the winningest of athletes anywhere jealous because in my eyes that’s what makes the true champion. I will now and forever be a Clint Bowyer fan even tough I still think I could take him on the water!!
So for now it’s back to life and for years to come the Three Rivers Run will be one of the great moments in my career. If you have a PWC be sure to check this event out next year as the tradition continues. Thanks to each and every person who made this event a success.
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