PaddleNSW is delighted to host the Morison 50 on October 31st, 2020. Starting from Macquarie Park, Windsor, paddle 50, 24 or 12kms in an out-and-back race as evening falls on the mighty Hawkesbury River.

All race entries via Webscorer

Online early bird entries close at midnight, Tuesday 27th October
All online entries close at midnight, Thursday 29th October

The Morison 50 is a rare chance to challenge yourself in an Ultramarathon event in 2020.

Using the mighty Hawkesbury River, championed over many years by Joan and Bruce Morison, we will paddle less than one third the distance they used to paddle when the Nepean 100-miler and Paddlathon were the big events.

The Morisons’ hand-drawn map for the Hawkesbury Paddlathon, yet another Ultramarathon back in the day… .


We start in Macquarie Park, Windsor, and paddle 50, 24 or 12kms heading down the river at dusk, returning in darkness. There is something very special about the river at this time, and the experience will be unforgettable.

There are many similarities to the Myall Classic, on which this format is based. There will be 5x starts at hourly intervals. Paddlers must first choose the distance they wish to paddle, then calculate which start they should enter in order to finish within the finish time ‘window’.

Tides will be with us downstream and slowing for the return, so prepare yourselves for a fast trip. This may see some paddlers completing the 50km in substantially less than 4 hours, and the 25km event well under 2 hrs.

The finish gate will open at 7.45pm this year due to the fast times expected and will close at 9.30pm. Minimum progress times will apply and paddlers will be turned around if they don’t make the cut-off time and therefore miss the finish opening times.

The big difference to the Myall though, is that the paddling conditions will change for you throughout this race. Where you might start with a sunhat and light clothing and don additional clothing at Sackville (in the Hawesbury Canoe Classic), you will not have that opportunity and will have to be flexible with your clothing choice. You will also have to ensure your front light is switched on for the return journey. But like the Myall, you will still need to take all your food and water for the full distance.

Don’t consider what it will be like paddling in mild conditions under glorious moonlight; prepare for the chance it may be raining, windy, cold, dark or blisteringly hot. When it is none of these, thank those stars above you. They, and you, are the lucky ones!

The race start is at Macquarie Park, Windsor. Paddlers will follow the natural course of the river, turning at checkpoints A (12km course), B (25km course) or C (50km course) and returning to Windsor.

Minimum progression requirements are:
50km Distance
3:00pm start – must reach Turnpoint B (12km) before 4:25pm
4:00pm start – must reach Turnpoint B (12km) before 5:10pm
ALL paddlers must reach Turnpoint C (25km) before 6:45pm

24km Distance
5:00pm start – must reach Turnpoint A (6km) before 5:50pm
6:00pm start – must reach Turnpoint A (6km) before 6:40pm

Paddlers selecting the Early Start options and finishing before 19:45 will have finish time recorded as 7:45pm.
Paddlers selecting the Late Start options and finishing before 19:45 will have actual time recorded.

Turnpoint C is a few kms upstream of the ferry crossing at Sackville. There is no provision for 50km paddlers to rendezvous with landcrew at this turnpoint, and they are required to be self-sufficient for the entire distance.

50km 24km 12km
Arrival 1:30pm for 3pm ‘early’ start
2:30pm for 4pm ‘late’ start
3:30pm for 5pm ‘early’ start
4:30pm for 6pm ‘late’ start
5:30pm for 7pm start
Scrutineering 2:45pm or 3:45pm 4:45pm or 5:45pm 6:45pm
Start Early start 3pm
Late start 4pm
Early start 5pm
Late start 6pm
7pm all paddlers
Minimum Progress 3pm start must reach B (12km) before 4:25pm
4pm start must reach B (12km) before 5:10pm
All to reach C before 6:45pm
5pm start must reach A (6km) before 5:50pm
6pm start must reach A (6km) before 6:40pm
Finish Open 7:45pm 7:45pm 7:45pm
12km 24km 50km
K4/OC6/Dragon Boat/Other YES
Open Female YES YES YES
Open Doubles (incl mixed) YES YES YES
Open Female Doubles YES YES YES
Junior (U18) Female YES YES YES
Junior (U18) Male YES YES YES
Junior Doubles YES YES YES
VJ Vet (35+) and Junior (U18) Double YES YES YES
Masters 50+ Female YES YES YES
Masters 50+ Male YES YES YES
Masters 50+ Doubles (incl mixed) YES YES YES
Open C1 Female YES YES YES
Open C1 Male YES YES YES

Race Briefings
This event will run strictly in accordance with the PaddleNSW Covid-19 Safety Plan. There will be no pre-race briefing on the day. A race briefing will be emailed to all paddlers on Friday 30th October, 2020.

It is the individual Paddler’s responsibility to read the briefing and to be aware of any changes to course or conditions, start times, etc. Ignorance is not an excuse. Paddlers are advised not to arrive at the event venue any more than 90 minutes before their chosen Start Time.

Entry to the Water
Entry gates will be opened prior to each Start. As per the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, all participant boats will be checked for compliance before entering the water. It is the responsibility of all paddlers to have themselves and their craft pass through the entry chute. Failure to do so will render you a ‘Did not Start’, as your number will not be recorded.

The Starts & Starting Line
The starts will be in line with the end of the ramp to the beach area, where the PaddleNSW Timing tent will be set up. The warm-up area is upstream of the Start/Finish line. Please assist the starters and all paddlers by not paddling downstream (towards the bridge) of the Start/Finish Line prior to any of the race starts.

Three (3) minutes before all race starts, an announcement will be made over the public address system. Paddlers are to align themselves at the southern most point of the beach area, until asked to move downstream to the start line together with the walking starter. The race will be started with the words “Ready, Go” in accordance with ICF/AC Marathon standard practice.

The Course
Paddlers are to follow the river to their respective turn points. There are no channel markers to be observed on this course in terms of course alignment. It is the responsibility of overtaking craft to do so in the safest possible manner. Overtaking craft do not have right of way. All turns will be made in an anticlockwise direction.

The Finish
The finish line is at the PaddleNSW Timing tent, adjacent to the bottom of the pedestrian ramp. The finish line is only open from 7:45pm onwards. Paddlers in ‘early’ starts (3pm for 50kms, 5pm for 24kms) finishing before this time will automatically be given a finish time of 7:45pm. Paddlers in ‘late’ starts (4pm for 50kms, 6pm for 24kms) finishing before 7:45pm will be given their actual time. With this in mind, paddlers are advised to choose their start time carefully.

Sweep Boat
The Safety Boat located at the 50km turn point will leave its station and start to return to the finish line at 6:45pm. Paddlers who have not reached the 50km turn point by this time will be turned around by this safety boat, which will also act as the ‘sweep’ and will signify that the course has been closed behind it. Instructions from race officials and/or safety boat captains must be complied with at all times. Paddlers failing to follow instructions will be disqualified.

Paddlers are required to carry a fully charged mobile phone in their boat, and in the event of an emergency, to call the safety officer’s number so that assistance can be rendered as quickly as possible. This number will be written on a wristband to be worn by all paddlers.

Paddlers are also requested to load and run the App “Glympse” for the duration of this event. PaddleNSW will have a technician on site during the day to assist in the loading and set up of the Glympse App on paddlers’ phones if required.

Paddlers must render assistance to other paddlers in need. Paddlers must obey the directions of the safety boat captain(s) at all times. If paddlers are directed to turn around short of any turn they must do so immediately.

Additionally, if paddlers see a red flag flown by a race official anywhere along the course, this will indicate the race has been stopped and paddlers should proceed directly to the nearest official and enquire of the reason and what steps they should take to get to safety.

Part of the conditions imposed by local council, who also assist in the running of this event, are that we leave the park as we found it, and take away our rubbish. Please use the garbage bags supplied for your rubbish and take it away with you. Please don’t fill the park bins. People will want to use the park in the following days, and the bins won’t get emptied until later in the next week.

In accordance with recent changes to ICF Rules, paddlers observed dropping fluid bags, supplement or other packaging into the river, will be disqualified immediately. Wrappers & packaging used in all craft MUST return with the craft and be taken off-site by paddlers.

Race Numbers
Each boat/craft entered will be provided with a Race Number, which must be affixed to a fitted vertical Number Board Holder, and clearly displayed and visible to officials at all times. SUP entrants will be provided with a number Bib, which must be pinned to their paddle pants (right leg, facing the shore). The Race Number and Bibs must be returned on completion of your race.

There are compulsory minimum equipment requirements for entry, which must be observed by all entrants:

  • Each paddler must wear a Level 50 non-inflatable lifejacket for the full duration of the event
  • Each paddler must have a pea-less whistle and a space blanket
  • Each paddler must wear the emergency phone number wristband provided
  • Each craft must have a standard number board holder (SUP excepted)
  • Each craft must have a white cyalume on the rear of each craft (supplied and fitted by organisers)
  • Each craft must have a forward facing white light fitted to the craft, or to the forward most paddler’s lifejacket, which must be illuminated for the duration of the race
  • Each craft must carry a Mobile Phone with sufficient charge so as to remain operational for the full duration of their race
  • Each craft must have positive buoyancy, and float upright and level with the surface in order to provide support for a paddler
  • Each paddler must carry sufficient fluids and foods for their chosen distance, as follows: –> 50km paddlers must each have a minimum of 2 litres of water and 50 grams of solid food, or 2 litres of liquid race food –> 24km paddlers must each have a minimum of 1 litre of fluid –> 12km paddlers are each advised to have fluids on board

All paddlers and craft must pass through the scrutineering gates, and will be checked for minimum compliance prior to start.

Tides on October 31st are predicted to be high at Windsor at 3:30pm and low at Sackville at 7:00pm. Conditions on the day and rainfall in the week leading up to the event will also affect river flow.

For those keen to crunch some numbers and predict possible finish times, Ian Wrenford from LCRK has put together calculator spreadsheets for the two longer races.

Download the Morison 24 calculator
Download the Morison 50 calculator

  1. The spreadsheets are pre-loaded with tide data, so you only need to update yellow shaded cells
  2. Update your start time in cell B14
  3. Update your average flatwater speed in B7
  4. Update any variations in speed over the course of the race in the Adjust Paddle Spd row (row 8), for example if you know you’ll be tired and so 0.5kph slower on the return
  5. The ETA row (row 14) will show your predicted arrival times at turnpoints and the finish line

Willy Weather is a good place to check in for predicted temperature, rainfall and wind. Be sure to dress for the forecast conditions, with contingency for variation.

Moonrise on October 31st will be at 6:58pm.

The moon that night will be a rather special one, a full micro blue moon! While it is certainly a mouthful to say, this moon is the second full moon in a calendar month (‘blue moon’), and ‘micro’ because it is a full moon occurring at its furthest possible distance from earth.

Ultramarathon paddling presents many challenges to both uninitiated and experienced paddler. The more thought that paddlers give to their preparation, the more enjoyable and successful the race!

The Seat
Those accustomed to paddling longer events will agree that your seat is the most important thing to get right. As you build up to paddling longer distances, ensure that you are comfortable after paddling 25km or further without stopping. A seat that causes pain or back problems should be modified to make it comfortable, as every person’s anatomy is different. A backrest is not necessarily a benefit, and can prevent rotation and lead to poor posture.

Clothing needs for the Morison 50 will vary with weather conditions and temperature, and will need to take into account change of temperature as the race progresses into the night The first rule of paddling clothing is to avoid cotton. Cotton when wet absorbs body heat, leading to dangerous lowering of core temperature in adverse conditions. Wear synthetic or wool.

Prepare for your event by testing several clothing options, bearing in mind that protection from the sun should be a major consideration. Determine what works best at given temperatures so you know what to wear on the day. Wear a hat or cap, and sunblock. And rub vaseline or gurney goo on body parts that are subject to rubbing on clothing or your boat.

Once again, test your paddling food before the event, and under paddling conditions. Have food you can consume while under way, so you don’t have to stop at the river’s edge to eat. And ensure it sits well in the stomach. Paddlers can consume 50g carbs and 15g protein and up to 600ml water an hour in warm conditions. There is a great deal of information in the internet about nutrition. Conduct your own tests and find out what works best for you.

Your Boat
50km is a long way in a slow boat, but even longer if you take a swim. Choose a boat that gives you the best mix of comfort and speed, with just enough stability for your ability. Conditions could change over the course of the race, and you will be paddling at least some of the time in the dark, so a more stable boat could be beneficial but is not essential.

You will enjoy your Morison 50 more if you have done some training. “The more you put in, the more you get out.”

As you are working out your food, clothing and craft, begin to paddle longer distances without stopping. You should be aiming to paddle up to 30km non-stop leading up to the event, meaning you will need to carry some food and water with you when you train.

If you are new to paddling, try and get some coaching from a PNSW accredited coach to help you master the best paddling technique.

When you are out training, work on fitness and strength. For fitness, try longer distances maintaining the same speed for the whole distance (so don’t start off too fast). For strength, do a series of shorter sprints at near your maximum effort. Get your heart rate up. Build on that and as you progress enjoy the improvement in your fitness and speed.

The Morison 50 is named in honour of Joan and Bruce Morison who both passed away within 6 months of each other in 2014/15 after a life-long commitment to paddling.

Joan joined Bruce in the late 1940’s to convene a meeting that established the Youth Hostels Association Canoe Club. The club provided the opportunity for YHA members to experience canoeing up to 1974. In fact, they actually conducted the first NSW Canoe Championships under the auspices of the NSW Canoe Association.

In 1992, Joan was awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) for services to the sport of canoeing and in 2003 became a life member of Australian Canoeing. Bruce was also nominated for an OAM in 1992 for services to canoeing but declined on the basis that he wanted it to be Joan’s time to shine for the work she had done for the sport. He was subsequently nominated again in 2009.

Both Bruce and Joan were Paddle NSW Life Members, Bruce inducted in 1980 and Joan in 1981.

Joan and Bruce’s involvement with canoeing crossed all disciplines and facets of the sport at local, state and national levels.

To hear about Joan Morison’s exploits in her own words, check out this interview with Ross Winters from River Canoe Club.

Joan and Bruce Morison completing the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic.

All events need volunteers and the Morison 50 is no exception.


If you’re not planning to paddle, why not email to join the volunteer team.