Sutherland Shire Canoe Club (SSCC) has finally run its annual kayak marathon race for PaddleNSW (PNSW) after two years of COVID cancellations – including the 2021 race being halted as the state ‘locked down’ on the day it was scheduled to run.
This year’s race, held on Saturday 16th July, was Round seven of PNSW’s 2022 Marathon Series and also the second round of the 2022 PNSW Junior Marathon Series. The event used Burnum Burnum Reserve, near the SSCC club rooms, as the staging area.
While Covid was not a major issue this time around, the event was not without challenges. An extreme weather event dumped more than 500mm of rain on the region two weeks before the race, causing significant flooding around the Woronora River. The SSCC club rooms avoided being flooded by just a few centimetres
Given the damage done to the area, less than a week before the event the race committee decided to redesign the course and issue a new race guide and course video. The plan was to minimise the impact on flood affected residents.
The new course was a five-kilometre loop starting near the boat ramp at Burnum Burnum Sanctuary. Paddlers went down river to the Georges Head at Bonnet Bay, then up river to the southern end of Prices Circuit Reserve, and back down river to Burnum Burnum.
A major task for club members in the days leading up to the race was cleaning up flood debris from the park, boat ramp and river near the clubhouse. They also helped remove tonnes of debris from the river.
On race day, competitors found themselves dealing with a cold, overcast morning – including frost for those arriving early – and an incoming tide for the race itself.
The breeze was light and picked up a bit during competition but not enough to slow the paddlers. It did, however, make things very chilly for the official timekeepers who were keeping watch on the field from the riverbank.
In Division 1, Lane Cove’s Brett Greenwood won with a time of 1hr:33m:07 with fellow Lane Cove member, James Harrington, second with a time of 1hr:33m:09. Cade Barnes from the Cronulla Sutherland Kayak Club (CSKC) finished third with a time of 1hr:36m:05.
First across the line in the 15km, 10km and 5km races were Brett Worth and Viliam Mako (Manly), Geoff Bedford (CSCK), and Russell Stevens (SSCC) respectively.
Aside from the two local clubs (SSCC; CSKC) fielding entrants, competitors from 11 other clubs came to the Woronora to compete, from across Sydney and as far afield as Canberra, the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley. There were 104 competitors in total.
It was good to see so many juniors take part in the event and contribute to the day. We had young paddlers from Manly, Sydney Northern Beaches Kayak Club (SNBKC), Avoca and Hunter Valley, as well as SSCC, take part.
The SSCC was pleased to be able to put the race on after a three-year break and thankful for the encouraging words and feedback from competitors who appeared to appreciate the efforts the club had put into running the race, even in the trying circumstances
Organisers are very grateful to the club and community members who helped clean up the park and boat ramp ready for the visiting paddlers after the recent floods. They would also like to thank the SES for assistance with safety on the water and the club members who volunteered in various capacities to ensure the event went smoothly – and the Woronora residents and other spectators who came out to support the paddlers on the day.
Results available on webscorer: 2022 Marathon Series – Race 7 – Woronora | Race results | Webscorer
Many thanks for the amazing photographs by Ian Wrenford: 2022-07 Marathon #7 Woronora (SSCC) | Flickr and
David Little: 2022-07 Marathon #7 Woronora (SSCC) | Flickr
Next race, Race 8 at Swallow Rock Saturday 13 August 2022