The brand new NSW Ultramarathon Series has kicked off to a good start in 2019, with paddlers getting on board to give these iconic races a crack.
The series brings together five ultramarathon races on the NSW paddling calendar, giving paddlers the opportunity to step up in distance and challenge themselves to go long, fast or both. Starting out with the 30km Wyong Ultra in September, the series took in the 47km Myall Classic, the three-day Clarence 100 and most recently the 111km Hawkesbury Canoe Classic on the weekend of October 26th. The series finale, and a final chance to add on some more kms will be the Burley Griffin 24hr Paddle Challenge on the 7th and 8th of December.
With four races down, it’s time to have a look at the paddlers in contention for 2019 ultramarathon honours. The series will recognise five levels of ultramarathon paddler, with the first four upon the completion of 200, 250, 300 and 400kms respectively. The following paddlers have already secured Levels 1 and 2, and with the Burley Griffin 24hr Paddle Challenge still on the calendar could be on track for some serious kilometres.
For each gender and singles/doubles, the series will recognise a Level 5 ultramarathon paddler, who has completed the greatest distance across the series. James Pralija and Ruby Ardren will be hard to pass in the Male and Female singles races, while Jeff Hosnell/Duncan Johnstone are looking solid at the top of the Male Double list.
There is also a long list of paddlers who are still just short of the 200km mark, but with 24hrs up their sleeve could be in the running for a Level 1, 2 or even 3.
‘Fastest Paddler’ status is given to the paddler who has completed the most races at the fastest average speed, so four races beats three no matter what the average speed.
In the Female Singles, Ruby Ardren is currently sitting on an average speed of 9.5kph across four windy races all completed in a K1 – quite an achievement! Brodie Cambourne completed Wyong, Myall and Clarence with an average speed of 9.3kph for the three races. James Pralija looks to have an unassailable lead in the Male Singles, with four races and an average speed of 11.9kpm. Peter Fitzgerald, Gareth Stokes, Mark Moro, Mick Carroll, Don Johnstone, Trevor Nichols and Wade Rowston all have three races under their belts, with Peter and Gareth both clocking up an average just over 11kph.
The Mixed Doubles sees two boats currently tied at two races each, with Frank Kingma/Annette Boath completing the Clarence and Hawkesbury at an average speed of 10kph just ahead of Deb & Jeff Buchan completing the Wyong and Myall in an average of 9.9kph. However, the Buchan double would need to get in a solid 127kms in the Burley Griffin 24hr race in order to make the minimum distance of 200kms.
In the Male Doubles, Duncan Johnstone/Jeff Hosnell are looking at a solid lead with four races down and an overall average of 10.7kph. Next placed Mark Sundin/The Axe migh be in with a chance at the gong if Duncan and Jeff are looking at singles for the 24hrs. And in the Female Doubles, Anne Moore/Charly Wellard are currently leading the pack but still looking for 53kms after completing the Myall and Clarence in an average of 9.8kph.
Presentations for the inaugural Paddle NSW Ultramarathon Series will take place on Sunday 8th December following the Burley Griffin 24hr Paddle Challenge.