National Marathon Training Group standards

The upcoming series of assessment races will also be used to choose athletes to invite to future National Marathon Training Group events. Achieving a certain Handicap performance at an assessment race will ensure you a place in this group for the next year; a selection to the GB team for a major international ensures a place for the next two years.

Please also read the recently published guide to assessment as it contains useful tips for athletes and coaches on how to reach the GB team in marathon.

KAYAK
SNR WOMEN U23 WOMEN JNR WOMEN SNR MEN U23 MEN JNR MEN
World Champion level 8 9 10 0 1 2
Range of 2014 GB Worlds team 8-10 8-10 14 1 2 3-4
Range for other 2014 GB internationals 10 11 14 2 3-4 5-6
Level required for National Training Group 13 13 16 5 5 8
CANOE
SNR WOMEN U23 WOMEN JNR WOMEN SNR MEN U23 MEN JNR MEN
World Champion level 16 EST 17 EST 18 EST 8 9 10
Range of 2014 GB Worlds team N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S
Range for other 2014 GB internationals N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S
Level required for National Training Group 21 22 23 13 13 16
N/S = NONE SELECTED
EST = EVENT DEBUT IN 2015, ESTIMATED

Great Britain Marathon Team Assessment Process

(or… how to earn yourself a GB vest)

If you want to earn yourself a GB vest some time in the future, then you need to do as many assessment races as you can, starting early in your career (even when you might not yet be very competitive).

The bulk of these races usually happen in May and June, because that’s when we need to be assessing athletes for Great Britain teams to the World Cup and European Championships. These internationals, and the assessment races, then allow us to choose our best team for the World Championships in September.

Assessments play an important role in all of the MRC’s international objectives: winning medals of course, and maintaining our position as a top nation, but also ensuring the long-term athlete development required for international success. For developing athletes, they provide a chance to learn by racing world class competitors, and understand what needs to be done to reach a similar level. We also use them to invite prospective future international athletes into the national training group, depending on the standards achieved.

Athletes should discuss their approach to assessment races with a coach. It’s important to be physically and mentally ready to take on the challenge as these are the fastest races in the country, but nobody gets to the top of the canoe racing mountain without starting from the base.

Here are some common sense bits of advice for those seeking international selection in marathon:-

1. Race assessment races as soon as you can in your career. The most successful athletes have almost always done several assessments in more than one season before their first selection. Junior women’s and C1 races are just a little further than a Div 4 race, junior men’s just a little further than a Div 3.

2. Do as many assessment races as possible. They follow the international race format so are good experience. And the more you do, the better your profile in the continuous assessment process. Other races (apart from the major internationals themselves) don’t count towards assessment.

3. Don’t expect to earn a GB vest with just one result. We run several assessment races to allow athletes to show more than one result, and results from different races can be benchmarked against the Handicap points system for a fair and impartial comparison of results.

4. Be realistic about your expectations, remember the winners of these races are very often international medal winners. And finish, no matter how badly your race may be going. You would be surprised how many places you can gain simply by reaching the finish line, and the experience of the distance is important.

5. Race hard, as even first place may not be enough. For the world championships this year we expect to have 16 athlete places. If we could afford to take up 2 boats in each class we’d need to send more than double this number. Selectors have lots of evidence of how fast international races are, so for example a men’s C1 in a domestic assessment would need to complete the course about as fast as our women’s K1s in order to gain a comparable result internationally. The Handicap points system can even help us to make a comparison between men’s and women’s K1 performances.

6. Whatever you do, fill in an availability form by the deadline. You wouldn’t believe how many people miss out on a selection because they just haven’t told the selectors that they’re available for an international race.

Promotions at non-divisional races

For clarity promotions can take place at non-divisional events.  Such races are one of the few occasions that all divisions race over the same distances in the same conditions and are thus useful ‘leveller’ against which performances can be compared.  Such races can also however be subject to adverse river levels and weather conditions which may be taken into account and mean that no promotions are appropriate.

Gent Marathon 2015

Saturday 28 mar saw the annual Blaarmersen Marathon, a race around the historic town of Gent in Belgium. Once one of Europe’s main trading ports, Gent is criss-crossed with waterways, making for both an interesting race course and a scenic one, should you have time to look up from the task in hand.

For the ninth successive year we invited a team of young athletes to take part in this race as a development experience, hopefully towards a place in the full international team in future. Most were racing abroad for the first time, and for some it was even a first venture into foreign soil.

The team met early at Elmbridge on the Friday morning, the early start being more of a problem for parents needing to get back to work by 9am. We then travelled in three minibuses down via a stop at Maidstone, to Folkestone for the Channel Tunnel. By 3pm we were in Gent and starting a recce of the race course.

The Koninklijke Cano Club Gent (or Gent Royal Canoe Club) is set on the side of a 2000m regatta course, with the river Leie flowing in and out of either side. The stepped concrete sides make for fairly bouncy conditions, and together with cloud, rain and a chilly wind we knew this would be a very British sort of race.

Races started around midday on the Saturday. Under 16s went off first for a 12km race, starting with half a lap of the regatta course, a trip round the river Leie via the town, and back onto the lake for a final half lap. Our U16 boys team featured Fowey’s Matt Collinge, Tim Gannicott-Porter and Juan Gearing of Chelmsford, Arthur Urquhart of Banbury, and Joe Webb of Richmond CC, racing against 13 Belgian and German competitors plus one from Medway Racers in the UK (Kim Hollman). A strong first lap of the regatta course followed by the first portage 2000m in put paid to the boys from German clubs Mulheim and Duisburg, and Joe Webb comfortably led away a group of four Brits, including Juan, Tim and Arthur. This was to be the finishing order after an hour’s racing, with a spread of only 30 seconds from first to fourth, the first of the Germans being nearly two minutes back.

Our U16 girls should have been racing two German and one Belgian competitors but for various reasons the Germans didn’t arrive, and the Belgian girl started with the boys race. Despite the hosts failing to show, our girls set about the task of beating each other, and a cagey first lap saw a large group together into the first portage. As usual this offered a decisive break, with Madi Barnicoat and Lucy Hield of Falcon getting away with Emma Russell of Chelmsford. Maia Wallman of Royal and Sam Martyn of Wey formed a chasing pair, with Sophie Thomson of Wey, Maia Wallace-Loizou of Leaside, Eloise Hall of Leighton Buzzard, Lucy Tozer of Wey and Harriet Quigley of Wiltshire Youth following. This proved to be a close race with only three minutes between first and ninth; Emma Russell won by 23 seconds from Madi, in turn 15 in front of Lucy.

The U18 races over 18km included an extra lap of the river Leie. The boys race, also a Belgian team marathon assessment race, featured the excellent Daan Cox of Belgium’s dominant club Neerpelt (which has produced sprint and marathon world medallists in recent years). Our racers were David Stubbs and George Harris of Falcon, and Chris Carson of Wey. David managed to get away with the Belgian Cox, and pull out a huge five minute lead; he was beaten by 30 seconds in the end but this was certainly one of the star performances of the trip. George finished a good fourth despite swimming and beat Chris into fifth in a sprint finish.

Our U18 girls were Ella Beatty of Bishops Stortford and Kate Clark of Falcon, racing in a fast start that included the senior and veteran ladies again as a national team assessment. Kate also fell in on the bumpy regatta course at the start of the race so lost a good deal of time, in the end finishing 4th junior; Ella managed an impressive third behind the Belgians Plas and Smeulders of Neerpelt. The overall start was won by Medway Racers’ Leanne Brown.

The team got back to Elmbridge later on Saturday evening, with many of the racers heading straight off to half term training camps or Hasler races on the Sunday. They were very ably supported by the staff team of Sarah Akerman of Wey, Katie Williams of Elmbridge, Phil Gunney of Wey and Tom Daniels of Longridge.

Full results can be downloaded here, with some photos here

Other than offering what is hopefully a good learning experience to the young athletes, this trip is also a good way for adult volunteers keen to get involved in the GB Marathon team to get first hand experience of managing and coaching the athletes. If you’d be keen to be part of the team for next year’s race please get in touch.

James Smythe, team manager

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 an Excel-based calculator, with instructions, that you can use to apply handicap scores to your own races or time trials.

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.