Marathon racing is the close ‘sister’ event to the Canoe Sprint that made for very popular & exciting viewing at the recent Rio Olympic Games, when Team GB’s Jon Scholfield & Liam Heath won Silver in the Men’s 200m K2 (2-person kayak) and Liam Heath then going on to win Gold in the Men’s 200m K1 (1-person kayak). The racing at Longridge was in essentially the same boats, but raced over longer distances with sometimes over 30 boats on the same start line.
The whole day is run by club members and their families who all volunteer their time for the club’s biggest event of the year. Amazingly most of the members found time to get organised and have their race too.
Races were held over a 4 mile circuit, racing either a 1/2 lap (2 mile), 1 lap (4 mile), 2 lap (8 mile) or 3 lap (12 mile) course. Under 10s and under 12s taking on the shorter course and the elite crews the longest.
Amongst the racers there were at least 20 paddlers who have represented their country at International level, with no less than 6 World and European championship medals in the last 3 years. Notably Magnus Gregory & Luke Harding, both Longridge members, becoming the Junior Men’s European Sprint Champions in Plovdiv, Bulgaria earlier this summer.
Success was found at the weekend’s race from within the host club across the classes. Some new members finishing their first ever race and also plenty of competitive racing challenging for the top places. Local paddlers Georgia Carmichael, Stewart Chippington and Ian Robson each with impressive 3rd places in their respective classes and Eddie Lee, Mike Taylor and Paul Sampson each taking the 1st places of their classes. These results add to success that has been had throughout the year which has secured the club a place near the top of the Southern region’s inter-club-points competition with the chance now to race at the National finals that will be held in a few weeks time.
A special surprise for the paddlers on Saturday came in the form of a special visit from Rio Olympic’s Gold & Silver Medalists Liam Heath, who is himself local being from Maidenhead, and Jon Scholfield who both presented the prizes on behalf of Longridge. The pair were greeted with a long round of applause, before giving everyone the opportunity to see their Olympic medals, to ask questions and have pictures taken. In yet another special moment of the day Liam & Jon offered some of their personal best wishes to Longridge’s Jeanette Chippington who will herself be heading out to Rio very soon for the Paralympics, where paracanoe is featuring for the first time.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Sprint or Marathon Canoe/Kayak racing can get in touch with Longridge Canoe Club via its website www.longridgecanoeclub.org.uk.