A development team of 8 K1 men, 4 K1 junior men and 1WK1 were selected to take part in the 42nd running of the Waterlands canoe marathon. The team was chosen following the Elmbridge Assessment race on 16 March.
The race consists of one loop of the canal system essentially starting and finishing in the vicinity of Viking Canoe Club. The race has two starts one for senior men and veterans, for a 23km course with two portages and the other start for juniors and women for a 14km course. The second start is just after the first portage on a wide section of waterway.
The race for the senior and veteran men contains two portages , one after 7 kilometers in the town of Monnickendam and a second portage close to the town of Ilpendam. The race starts on a wide section of canal about 2km from the canoe club. The course then follows several canals which vary in width and depth. The first portage is relatively simple round a canal lock. The second portage at Ilpendam is unique because the Dutch wetlands requires participants to land their boats on to the shore before continuing through the marshy meadow. The route then passes through the shallow waters of a nature area before heading back to the main deeper canal and back through the start line and on to the finish near the canoe club.
The quality of the senior K1 field was impressive with Ramalho (Portugal) Alonso, Merchan, Rodriguez (Spain) all having been world marathon champions or medallists. There were also paddlers from Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Hungary and of course the Netherlands. Quite an opportunity for domestic competitors to line up in such a quality field. With approval from the BCU Marathon Committee the race is within reach, distance and ability, of many of our marathon competitors.
The senior/veterans start was a 60 boat+ affair. A fast start being a must. A large front group formed with all the main protagonists present. Romalho and the Spanish led through the first portage with many of our team hot on their heels. The race continued on to the second portage with much the same situation at the head of the race. A large front group, 10 or so boats, stayed together with others not far behind. Romalho had the lead on the wide canal on the way to the finish. The Spanish launched several attacks but failed to get past and the front group splintered as they approached the finish line. Romalho 1st, Merchan 2nd, Rodriguez 3rd, and Alonso 4th. The stand out result for our team was Magnus Gregory, an U16 junior , coming in 12th place 39 seconds behind the winner. Also Nick Romain, first year senior, was 14th just a few seconds behind Magnus. Magnus performed well at the Elmbridge assessment race and the selection committee offered him the opportunity to race with the seniors at Waterlands which he grabbed in no uncertain terms and really did himself proud along with his support team at Longridge Canoe Club.
In the junior race we had 4 competitors. They all made a strong start and Kayne settled into the front group with our other juniors not far behind. A mishap at the portage detached Kayne from the leaders and joined him with the second group with Luke and James with Trevor not far behind. The trio of Kayne, Luke and James chased hard and finished just 27 seconds behind the leading three. A good effort by all four boys.
The ladies race had mixed fortunes for the UK paddlers. Lizzie Broughton and Leanne Brown, both private entries, got away well. Emma got caught up in a congested start crash and ended up in the water. She got back into her boat and paddled strongly and went through the field to finish in 8th place. Lizzie took the win with Leanne in 3rd.
Viking Canoe Club ran a good race. Excellent hospitality no stress with late comers wanting to race and the facilities of the club open to all. They did a great job enticing top paddlers to make a very competitive club international race. One to put on everybody’s calendar.
Edwin de Nijs deserves special mention. He laid on a guide to take us round the course so we could recce the portages and main features prior to the race, thanks to Paul Hoekstra for the trip round. Edwin also arranged our evening meals in a local restaurant with athlete food, a must before the race!!
An excellent event, good competition, with 28 or so competitors from the UK taking part. Viking Canoe Club run the race annually and are very welcoming to overseas competitors…..put it on your list of races for 2015.
Thanks go to the MRC for the opportunity to take part in a top class development race, the MRC volunteer staff for the event, Viking Canoe Club and particularly Edwin. Last but not least the paddlers who all raced well and did the team proud.
Melvin Swallow (Team Leader)
Phil Gunney (Phil’s photos can be found on the Viking Canoe Club website and Facebook Page….a selection of action shots!!)
The results can be found following this link:
M Swallow 24 April 2014.