Results are in for the 26th annual Burley Griffin 24hr Paddle Challenge, which took place on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November 2020.
Starting at 10am on Saturday morning and running through the night to finish at 10am on Sunday, the event attracted 13 solo paddlers and 9 teams from NSW, the ACT and Victoria. With a 4.7km course around Molonglo Reach, the race is open to all types of craft from K and C boats to outriggers and SUPs. Paddlers could choose between the classic 24-hour challenge or new a 16-hour option that allowed for sleep between 10pm and 6am. The 16hr challenge proved a popular option, taken up by both solo paddlers and relay teams with a need for speed!
Among the many challenges of paddling for a full day and night is the variations in temperature and weather. Following a 2019 race that was called off due to falling ash, paddlers were hoping that the high forecast temperatures would be the only challenge presented this year. The first few hours of racing indeed proved hot, with glaring sun and a breeze to keep some of the tippier boats on their toes. The afternoon brought an isolated storm, with an hour of wind gusts over 60kph and waves that locals usually see on Lake Burley Griffin rather than Molonglo Reach! Half a lap later, and the storm had passed, leaving the sun to set into a calm river with the promise of a full moon. With a wonderfully lit course and balmy nighttime conditions, the overnight laps were a highlight for many paddlers.
In the 24hr challenge, James Miller covered the most ground as a solo paddler, completing an impressive 31 laps of the 4.7km course and a total of 145.7kms. Close behind were Richard Barnes with 126.9kms and Stephen Routley with 122.2kms. Kerri Vaughan paddled a total of 14 laps and 65.7kms to clock up the most distance as a solo paddler in the 16hr challenge.
Laps were hotly contested in both the 16hr and 24hr relays, with finely tuned change-overs and vocal cheer squads on the bank. In the 16hr challenge, local team Train Smart 1 just pipped Shirekayakers squeezing in one more lap to make 178.6kms. Over the full 24hrs, Creatures of the Cove from LCRK clocked up 220.9kms with local team the Sonnambulists hot on their heels with 216.2kms.
Thank you to all volunteers from Burley Griffin Canoe Club who went out of their way to put on a fabulous race. It’s no easy task to run an event through the night, and many in the timekeeping tent were also taking turns out on the water and ensuring the clubhouse adhered to COVID guidelines. After a year with so few races, it was great to get on the water and paddle with mates, challenge ourselves a little and marvel at the stars.