2022 Ultra Marathon Series

11-13 June - Riverland Paddling Marathon (RPM)

Summary of LCRK results - the first 4 results below were category winners for the race.
1. Naomi Johnson 17:11:09 minutes / will be the new fastest womens time for the course also fastest individual paddler in the race.
2. Chris Johnson 17:44:25 minutes
3. Cheezels keg, Ghengis, Rich Duncan 15:51:11 - just outside a record(?)
4. Wade + Tony 16:38:23 minutes think this might also be a record
5. Anjie + Dave 21:16:11 minutes a fantastic effort they saw more wind and scenery.
6. Tom S - withdrew on Day 2 in the cold/windy conditions – but made it to dinner!

Individual race reports follow in PDF format.

Naomi Johnson Report

An extract below to whet the appetite:

...This time when the lock opened and the buzzer went to restart the race, I was first out the gates. I was feeling great and up for the thrill of chasing the record, aiming to get out in front of the main pack and then jump every wash that came past. The Cheezel Crew dashed away into the flow with Tony hot on their tail, and I managed to join up with Andy and Lisa Singleton whose wash had thus far eluded me. Tuck in behind, long strokes, good rotation; I was determined to stay on for as long as I could. 7kms goes by quickly at 13kph, but ultimately the ‘Singos’ were just a bit too fast for the long-haul and I was on my own, still trying to push at 20km marathon pace! Thankfully it wasn’t for long, with my favourite double Richard and Mary catching me at 35kms to go. They knew my goal and were up for working together, ploughing towards the finish at a speed where I could just, barely hang on. Past the winery checkpoint, quick stop for food, then hurtling towards 20kms to go and the long straight towards a final checkpoint. I was really pushing the envelope of what I thought should be possible for this distance, willing myself to hang on for a kilometre, then another one, and another.

Chris Johnson Report

An extract below to whet the appetite:

...Getting the Horizon Rocket set up on the morning Tony + I managed to dislodge the race number which fell in water – Tony scooted over to race officials grabbed a replacement number installed – this meant I started a minute or so behind my wave. So paddled off a little stressed & was working out how much energy to spend on the 20 km to Overland Corner I decided to go out pretty hard / It was a fast paddle to the Lock at Overland (speeds touching 14.4 km, mostly sitting on 13 km).

Whilst not pushing heart rate into crazy zones - I passed all other paddlers arrived first at the Lock & had no clue where to stop paddling, I paddled to the rescue boat who did not know and then paddled over to the bank near the Lock opening – a chap who had literally just arrived behind a large gum tree said I could stop paddling. Genghis helped me out & Wade was there with all the jackets & gear (great team). Not that I am competitive but I did keep my Garmin running & Naomi finished that section in a similar time / same as Tony.

A highlight on the way to the lock was passing Tom S, at the same time a snake swum under his ski & then my kayak – it’s great to say hi to the other paddlers on the river....

Team Pablo - Rich, Keg, Ghengis, Duncan Report

An extract below to whet the appetite:

The race starts in Berri which is about a 45 minute drive from Lowbank. That means a 4:30 wake up, breakfast and dark drive through kangaroo country to Martins Bend. There the various boats are kitted out, scrutineered, admired and eventually launched.

Boats are launched in waves to try and have all vessels arrive at the next checkpoint (the lock) at the same time to minimise waiting in cold wet gear. The bird life in this part of the country is simply spectacular. Boats are launched in waves to try and have all vessels arrive at the next checkpoint (the lock) at the same time to minimise waiting in cold wet gear. The bird life in this part of the country is simply spectacular. Pelicans are the boss bird around here but the foreman would be the Kites that patrol the river swooping spectacularly down on unsuspecting fish or small children.

One pair of kites had a disagreement about the ownership of a fish they had caught, this fish ended up being dropped in their argument on top of an unsuspecting landcrew member at the site. She thought it was the start of the rapture, assaulted by a junior carp while walking to your car, imagine that!

The kites nest in eyries along the river and share the skies with corellas, cockatoos, cormorants, pelican and eagles. It is a bird nerd’s paradise.

Pablo’s day 1 Pairings were Keg and Genghis, Sir Duncan and Rich. With Keg and Genghis starting the first 12km leg. An easy morning Time trial. Sir Duncan and I hopped in for the first lock. This is my 5th RPM and the drop in the river at the lock is usually around 3m. This year the drop was only about a metre so that gives you some idea of the water in the river.....

Wade Rowston & Tony Hystek Report

An extract below to whet the appetite:

Our reward (more like punishment) for a great first day was to be placed on the last start time with 3 doubles. Team Pablo, Richard and Mary, and the Singos. Fortunately we had decided early on that Tony would start the day and paddle the 20km leg to the lock. Showing no fatigue from the previous day he stayed with the Singos for the full distance to the lock.

I took the next leg of 23km. I was happy with my exit from the lock, given it was only the second time I had done it (last year I only did it once). Unfortunately, I just missed a wash ride on a double (Naomi did well and stayed with Richard and Mary then then a ski paddler from SA). I had a gruelling leg on my own with lots of really tough long sections into a strong breeze. Chris passed me early on and was looking strong but I managed to sneak ahead in one of the windy sections. By the changeover Namoi was about 300 metres ahead.

Tony took over for the third 14km leg and he said it took him ages to catch up. Another really strong paddle in difficult conditions. By the changeover he was about 50m ahead of Naomi. I cruised until Naomi had caught up and had some sustenance then we powered through the 12km leg together with more windy sections to the finish.

The strong headwind sections were the talk of the day and a number of paddlers had to pull out including Tom Simmat who was tipped in by the wind and was headed down the hypothermia path when he was picked up by the safety boat.

Dave Hammond & Anjie Leys "The Sweeps" Report

An extract below to whet the appetite:

...Day 2 was more about survival than racing and although we were faster than last year we paid the price when the clock stopped. We raced well on day 3, even better when we realised CPB was at 15km not 31km. That cost me a few hours sleep on Sunday night. But none of the hard core paddlers stopped so it was depressing watching the field paddle past, well until we had another sip of Clays chicken soup.

The Riverland is a beautiful place to paddle. The locks each day provide a well earned break with no time penalty, well that’s until you try and exit the lock, time can catch up real quick if you don’t paddle hard through the chop. The cliffs towering over the river are beautiful and at time feel endless. You don’t always get to appreciate the scenery when you are racing for “sheep stations” but down the back of the pack “The Sweeps” had that bit of extra time to soak it all in....

Yukon River Quest 22-25 June 2022

Above: Esther at the finish (Photo: Yvonne)

Above: Esther - 1st Solo Womens C1 (and a new record)

Above: Esther - 2nd outright - Solo C1