Over the QueenÕs Birthday long weekend in June The Marathon Canoe Club of SA runs the annual Murray 200 canoe marathon from Berri to Morgan in the SA Riverland. Many of the paddling fraternity will be familiar with the five day Murray 400 marathon race, which starts each year at Yarrawonga on Boxing Day. Half the distance might suggest an easier race but apart from the shorter duration of three rather than five days, the 200 is more of a challenge. Paddlers must take into account the character of the river here in SA. Flow rates can be slow and winter winds can further challenge weary competitors but the scenery is spectacular and the experience unique. Imagine the Murray at dawn with the mist rising from the water mixing with the smoke from the starterÕs gun. Competitors even get a chance to get out of their boats and stretch their legs each day as they carry their boats around the locks.
If you are not a morning person and donÕt find the idea of AustraliaÕs most challenging race appealing there is an alternative. Instead of the 76km, 69km, 63km legs of the long race, how about trying the SA Murray 100, which is run concurrently, featuring distances of 36km, 25km, and 30km and starting at a more civilised late morning timeslot. No portages involved and timed to bring most paddlers from both races together during the day allowing a combined finish. Still not a race for the novice paddler but achievable with training and good preparation.
Many competitors begin their association with the SA Murray Canoe Events in a relay team. The relay covers the same distance as the Murray 200 but it is broken up into sections ranging from 11km to 27km and at each checkpoint the team changes paddlers. Teams can be of 4 to 6 canoeists in one or more double kayaks or 2 to 3 paddlers for a single craft. Here competing can be an elite affair, teams aiming to break records in the most amazing conditions or novice teams can come together for the paddle of their lives in a companionable and well supported environment.
All competitors must have a ground crew to follow their progress on land and meet their needs when they come off the water. Race officials monitor competitors on the water but adequate preparation for the winter conditions and a warm change of clothes at the end of the day is imperative. The rest of the day ground crew can enjoy the lovely stretches of the Murray and with other spectators, cheer on the paddlers as they pass by.
For more information contact:
The Race Director
PO Box 6140
Adelaide SA 5000
Or e-mail. Race Director Martin Finn. email@example.com