Gent Marathon 2015

The Marathon Committee invites a team of athletes each year to take part in the Gent Marathon, to be held on 28th March this year. The invitations are not done on the basis of “fastest first”, nor solely on the basis of race and time trial results, the intention is to give as many young athletes as possible an experience of racing internationally at some stage between their U15 and U17 racing years.

If you would like to be considered for the team this year, and you fit within the criteria listed below, please speak to your parents and coach, and fill in this online availability form BY THE DEADLINE OF 27TH FEBRUARY (n.b. this is not the same as the full internationals availability form)

Athletes invited to be part of this team:-

  • Have not yet been selected as a full international in marathon, or been invited to be part of the Gent marathon team in previous years
  • Have participated as much as possible in marathon events in the preceding autumn/winter, from the National Championships until the end of February, and have participated in at least one regional winter training day, or regional winter race
  • As a priority, are classified as u15 or u16 in the year of the race (2015), although younger and older athletes may be considered
  • In the opinion of the MRC, would benefit from the learning experience of taking part in an international marathon race at this stage in their athletic development

There are a total of 20 athlete places available for the 2015 event: last year the team comprised 10x U16M K1, 8 x U16F K1 and 2x U16 M C1. The case for all athletes will be considered equally with no quotas set for gender or craft, and consideration made for the accommodation available which usually splits boys/girls into groups of four.

Race Organisers Notes: advice on starts

The annual Race Organisers letter is sent out in February with the arrival of the new Racing Handbook, and outlines any changes in rules or guidance that organisers need to know about. With the recent discussion on the MRC’s desire to improve the fairness of starts, here is the section on guidance for starters:-

The start of any race is critical and fairness and consistency is our aim. It is therefore highly important that you carry out procedures and endeavour to ensure everybody has a fair start.

The rules that will apply for a major competition are already laid down in the racing rules and included in the year book. They can and should equally apply to ANY race. Once competitors who push the line or jump the start realise that that will get a 2 minute penalty, or be disqualified and asked to leave the start line, they will start to comply with your instructions.

Our aim is to make these rules the standard to which every race organiser works.

Some important points come from these rules which should be noted and applied on all starts:-

  • If you control the boats at a no more than ‘walking pace’ as they come up to the line, then it is more likely you will control them on the line.
  • Make sure that your ‘marshalling line’ is not too close to the actual start line.
  • Do not ‘hold’ paddlers on the start line for too long – this will merely result in them ‘pushing’ it. Bring them very slowly up to the line and start the race quickly when there.
  • If the majority of boats advance over the line – the only way to bring them back is often to get them ALL to paddle round and start again.
  • Do not penalise those who comply with your instructions and are on the line; by starting the race when others are clearly in front of the line….bring those paddlers back round. Be prepared to warn twice and then penalise with a 2 minute penalty or disqualify.
  • Refer to boats by their numbers or by the club colours not by the paddlers name and be prepared to record – or have an assistant record – any penalties given – by boat number. 
  • If you issue a penalty it must apply – it cannot then be ignored or withdrawn. If you disqualify a paddler do not start the race until he/she has removed themselves from the line and preferably from the water.
  • Do not tell paddlers that there is ‘ 1 minute to go’ and them start them before a full minute has elapsed. Be consistent…if you say you will not start them for 2 minutes – make sure it is a full two minutes before you do start them.
  • Have a whistle ready to blow if there is a false start and you are recalling the whole race – make sure that the paddlers know that is what a whistle means – STOP – there has been a total false start – come back to the line.
  • If you have paddlers ‘hanging back’ well behind the actual start line – give them the opportunity once to come up to the line – if they are unwilling to do so after being asked, then concentrate on the front line to retain control and accept that those behind the line are more comfortable in the ‘second line’ position.
  • You are within your rights as a starter of an event to ‘warn’ coaches and spectators who are blatant in trying to encourage their paddlers to ignore your instructions and ‘push’ the start. Do not be afraid to do so.


Handicap Score Calculator

The Elmbridge Handicap system is an extremely well-established way of benchmarking an individual’s performance level using one distance, and using it to predict their performance (and those of others) over other distances. The GB marathon team training group is using Handicap scores this winter as a way of helping athletes measure their current performance and set targets, but it can be applied to paddlers at all levels.

Click here (for a revised version based on 1 sec/minute not 1 sec/250m), with instructions, that you can use to apply handicap scores to your own races or time trials.

GB Marathon Team third winter 14-15 training day

30 of our top Marathon racing athletes met for a training day at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes on Saturday 17th January, in freezing but calm conditions. This was the third of four winter training days for the group, comprising those who have represented GB at a major international in the last two years, and a group of athletes invited to train with the team on the basis of their performances at assessment and National Championship races last year.

With six weeks until the first assessment race of the year at Thameside 2, many of the group are still deep into their winter training programmes, but the training day gave athletes an early opportunity to gauge how well their main domestic rivals are going, but most importantly to test themselves in high-pressure racing situations.

Our first session included three 4km races in three groups, matched according to their latest Handicap score (the system developed many years ago by Roland Lawler at Elmbridge, and now adopted by the national team training group as a reliable way of gauging individual performance levels versus the national and world standard).

The athletes on the start list included most of our world top 10 competitors in marathon: Lizzie Broughton, Fay Lamph and Jenny Illidge; Magnus Gregory and Zyggy Chmiel, and among the senior men, Keith Moule, Ed Rutherford, Tim Pendle, Andy and Tom Daniels. The invited athletes proved to be hot on their heels, especially the strong Chelmsford contingent including three members of the Johnson family: Melissa, Matt and Dan.

Keith Moule continued his dominant form since the World Championships, winning all three of his races. Zyggy Chmiel, a junior in 2015, proved the strength of the Norman Mason coached group at Nottingham by staying with Keith to record a HC1 time along with Tim Pendle and Ed Rutherford. Matt and Dan Johnson were dominant among the U23s suggesting they will compete well with our current group of U23 internationals in the coming season. Zyggy’s performance along with that of Mags Gregory (suffering from a session including 1,000 bench press reps the preceding week) suggests that our 2015 junior vintage could be very special too. Lizzie was her usual imperious self among the women, recording an extremely impressive HC6 time.

After a bit of a muddy run and lunch, the second session of the day was designed to develop group position and tactical awareness. Split into evenly matched groups of four (and two separate races for those above and below HC4), the aim was to finish with the best aggregate finish position from the team’s four finishers. Coloured training bibs helped the paddlers and handful of hardy spectators appreciate what was going on, as paddlers worked together to put their competitors into disadvantageous positions and to protect their own.

In the first race, the Pink team (Chmiel/Gregory/Cresser/Hicks) looked well placed at the first turn but in their haste failed to capitalise, so the Amber team (Moule/Russell/T Daniels/Sharpe) managed to engineer a break away, but without their top junior James Russell. Andy Daniels (Green team) joined them. A few places behind, the Blue team (Pendle/D Johnson/M Johnson/Plummer) grouped themselves into a tight four and proceeded to work their way back while preventing anyone else from benefitting from their washes. No-one was entirely sure what the Green team strategy was, perhaps the failure of the management to supply them with bibs prevented A Daniels/Rutherford/Duffield/Wilkes from working out who they needed to work with!. Amber’s brave attempt to dominate ultimately failed, as Green’s Andy Daniels took the win and Russell retired, which allowed Blue’s lock-out of places 5 to 8 to win on points.

The second race proved a little more fragmented, with teams only able to defend in pairs for the most part after a hard day on the water. Orange (Strong/Broughton/Lamph/Butler) prevailed on points ahead of Light Blue (Smithson/Peters/Parkes/Petersen) and Red (Smith/Walsh/Westwood/Illidge), with the Yellow team (Hansell/English/Littlewood/Thompson/M Johnson) just behind.

The team have six weeks of hard work ahead of them before the first assessment race of the year at Thameside 2, after which our development team for the Waterlands Marathon will be chosen.

Frank Luzmore – results and promotions

Results of last weekend’s Frank Luzmore race can be found here. Participants should note that several promotions have been made from these results.


The committee have continued to receive comments and concerns over promotions from the Frank Luzmore race.  The racing rules do allow promotions at this race. The race organisers are not responsible however for promotions. Any paddler who believes that their promotion is incorrect can, as has already been stated, appeal through the normal process.  The MRC will next meet on 28th February and will discuss some of the issues raised at that meeting.

Please note again, that the Race Organiser does not have control over promotions within their event

Ensuring fair starts

We will endeavour during the 2015 season to make starts, at all races, more fair and more consistent.  New guidelines have been issued in the Year book for ALL starters.   The aim is to provide consistency of application of the current rules that exist and particularly make competitors, who constantly ‘push the line’ and disobey Starters orders, aware of the penalties that they WILL suffer if they do not comply with instructions given.  Please refer to the Handbook and the Race organisers letter for full details.