When do I Stop Racing?

My kayaking compatriot and rival for the past two decades, Jim Layton, was faced with this conundrum. He has had a few health hiccups recently. 

Well during a short 7km handicap club race early in October, 2021, he made the decision to quit. At least his body overruled his competitive instinct and told him to quit.  

He was two kilometres into the race, on his 84th birthday and decided it was prudent to withdraw. He was ‘listening to’ the warning signs from his body. He was very annoyed that he thought he should withdraw, but what annoyed him more was the impact on those racers around him.  

Although the ‘warning signs’ had passed and he was fit to carry on or return to shore as he could choose. Three other racers were concerned and withdrew. They accompanied him back to the finish.  

This is what really made the decision for him. He did not want to spoil somebody else’s day kayaking. He did not want to others feel any responsibility for his actions. 

For this reason and with his wife’s blessing, he will no longer compete in races. He has told the club executive of his decision to make sure he sticks it. 

Thus 48 years of competition starting back in 1973 in a ‘Yea to Seymour [Vic] event and including some Murray marathons [class win in 1975], a couple of Hawkesbury Classics [class records in 2004 and 2006], and over a decade of competing in the Northern Marathon Series, drew to a close. 

Numerous touring expeditions can be added to this record. In the early eighties there was a Canoe trip from Bourke to Wentworth on the Darling River, then in 2002, there was another self-supported trip on the Murray from Yarrawonga to Wentworth. 

It is not totally over, though, we will still be able to enjoy his company on the water during our midweek workouts over 12-16kms, but won’t have to worry about him beating us in Saturday club races.

By Ken Buckly

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