Wonderful Wagga Bidgee Bash and Bidgee Dash Criterium Race 2023

What a wonderful way to start the 2023 PaddleNSW Marathon Series – in Wagga last weekend.

In its third consecutive year, Wagga Bidgee Canoe Club’s downriver race format in the Paddle NSW Marathon Series, is growing in popularity. The 2023 version held on the 4th and 5th of February, saw 105 paddlers line up for the “Bidgee Bash” Marathon event on Saturday, raced over distances of 26km, 17km and 7.5km. With a small amount of prize money on offer, a further 15 backed up on Sunday morning in the Bidgee Dash Criterium Race, before hitting the road for home. The Saturday post race dinner and catch up at a local pub also proved a hit with 47 paddlers from a variety of different clubs in attendance.  

For this year’s race report, we decided to ask paddlers what the appeal is that has them drive between 2 to 8 hours for a weekend in Wagga, to kayak on the Murrumbidgee River. For many it is the nice change that a down river format offers on the NSW Marathon calendar and the mini bus option back to the start line included as part of entry, makes logistics quite simple for those with no transport. Others spoke about the challenge (and anxiety) of testing their skill set on a moving river, with swirls, eddies and submerged logs to contend with. The opportunity to make a weekend of it and get out of the big smoke was front and centre for many, as was the laid back vibe, friendly volunteers, country hospitality and the chance and time to relax and catch up with other paddlers over dinner, reliving the day’s events and past glories.

In addition to all of the above, when asked why those who haven’t raced in Wagga should bother to make the effort to travel, people said the inclusion this year of the Sunday morning Bidgee Dash Criterium Race, was great fun and made it worthwhile to make a weekend of it. The prize money on offer was a bonus and the handicap format and placing points weighted differently for each of the 3 races, had paddlers of all levels in with a chance.  For some, the free camping option at the race start was a bonus and made for a cheap family weekend away.

The WBCC has a current membership of 47, with paddling interests mostly leaning towards social and recreational, with a small few interested in doing some of the closer races in NSW and Victoria. With 3 different start locations and a separate finish area, the Bidgee Bash is quite a logistical exercise for our small club and relies on a large number of members volunteering their time to ensure everything is well organised and runs smoothly. Over half of the club membership helped out in some way to deliver this year’s event which unfortunately meant we didn’t have many paddling in our home race.

When asked what our members get out of volunteering, the majority said seeing the enjoyment and positive experience that visiting paddlers have when they come to Wagga, is very satisfying and makes the hours and effort worthwhile. A few liked that it brings together the different paddler types within the club and fosters a sense of working together and giving back.

The paddling community is inclusive of all and offers something for everyone whether they are an elite racer, weekend warrior, social paddler or club volunteer. Looking forward to seeing both new and old faces at next year’s Bidgee Bash and Bidgee Dash.

Results available on webscorer: 2023 Marathon #1 – Wagga – Bidgee Bash | Race results | Webscorer

Images courtesy of Angela Farrell: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1g6jUrmz-Lg5BvP1R1icaQqTwBhTfnvmO

Our thanks to Wagga Bidgee Canoe Club for hosting and all the volunteers who made the weekend such a success for all. Thank you Angela for your report.

See you in Windsor on Sunday 26 February. Enter the rest of the marathon series and save or enter just the Windsor event now via Webscorer 2023 PaddleNSW Marathon Series | Series registration | Webscorer

Previous articlePaddleNSW Special General Meeting
Next articleThanks & Farewell: PNSW Announces People Changes