In its 50th year organisers of the Massive Murray Paddle, formally known as the Murray Marathon, will send over 550 paddlers and 800 crew members down the Murray River from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill this November.
The gruelling event is over 404km, takes five days and has followed the same course for 50 years.
It has been one of the great long distance paddling races in the world for a very long time and continues to attract hundreds of keen paddlers mostly from Australia and many from overseas.
The Yarrawonga Mulwala Amateur Canoe Club has seen many of its local members enter the marathon breaking records and returning home winners in their various classes.
Canoe club President Jared Loughnan, who has won a TK2 class in the marathon’s full distance event with Tim Roadley, said the local club has an extremely esteemed and proud history in the marathon.
“We would be one of the most successful club’s in the marathon’s history without a doubt,” Jared said.
“Over the last 40 years the club has assisted many paddlers both with training and coaching advice, better preparing them for the grueling event.”
Since national champion paddlers and lo- cals Vic and Ken Poll first entered the marathon in 1976, record after record has been broken by Yarrawonga Canoe Club paddlers.
Locals Kevin Phillips and Barry Hickinbothom started tackling the marathon in 1981 and it was not too long before Australian representative Kevin Phillips won the first of his many line honours. Since then a number of members have also achieved line honours,
In fact the fastest ever time for the 404km was achieved by members of the club in a K4 team in 2006. The team included local cabinet maker Nev Hargraves and champion paddlers Mick Leveritt (Albury), Simon Stenhouse (Melbourne) and Tim Naughtin (Corowa), who finished in a never to be beaten time of 24 hours and 18 minutes for the 404km marathon.
Between 1992 and 2006 club members Angus Campbell, Neville Hargraves, Glenn and Neal Hemphill had won between them an amzing10 of the 15 outright fastest times.
In 1997 Kent Jacques was awarded the Margaret Baker Trophy as the handicap winner and more recently in 2014 Adele Church was awarded the highly regarded Mark Thornthwaite Award for the many years she has steered the CWA relay team across the line. For the last 13 years the CWA team has included many local women from all around the district and looks forward to again competing in the 50th anniversary year.
At 16 years of age, local paddling sensation Brea Roadley, in one of the most difficult of boats a K1, became the youngest female to complete the full distance and in 2014 she had set a new open female record for the half distance race.
“The club has a special place in the history of the Murray Marathon now known as the Massive Murray Paddle,” Jared said.
“We look forward to supporting our local paddlers again this year.”
The Yarrawonga Chronicle will publish a series of articles and interviews leading up to the marathon’s 50th anniversary which starts in Yarrawonga on November 19.