2023 Ultra Marathon Opportunities

LCRK has always had strong participation in a range of accessible and iconic ultra-marathon events. For 2023 Ruby has taken on the ultra-motivator role to coordinate LCRK's participation. For 2023 the events include:

Massive Murray 20-24 Nov

Report: Murray River Paddling Alert! - from Lyndsay Brooker

Hey there, fellow club members, we are thrilled to share the incredible outcome of our recent adventure on the mighty Murray River.

Our team of four embarked on a mind-blowing 415 km marathon in a double mirage kayak, and let me tell you, it was an experience like no other! The weather gods were on our side, blessing us with fine and sunny skies throughout the entire journey. Well, that’s not exactly true - it was windy and it rained on day 5 which provided the variety every kayaker yearns for. Talk about near perfect conditions for an epic adventure!

But that's not all, the strong current of the Murray River added an extra thrill. We rode those waves (ripples to LCRKers) like true champions and we came fourth out of 21 double kayaks in the V50 group!

What truly made this journey unforgettable was the incredible camaraderie and good humour that filled the over 100 participants. We laughed, we cheered, and we pushed each other to new limits. The support and encouragement we received from one another was absolutely priceless.

Now, here's the exciting part: we want to extend an invitation to all of you amazing LCRKers to join us next year!

So, mark your calendars for November 2024. Please join us to make next years marathon on the Murray River even more epic and unforgettable.

Above: Lyndsay and Kim S en route

Clarence 100 - 6-8 Oct 2023

Report soooooon....

Myall Classic 16 Sep 2023

Above: Results for LCRKers and regular TTers

CCP 30km Marathon 24 Sep 2023 - Van Stappen Trophy, Wyong River.

Hi Members and Friends,
The excellent racing conditions today were only matched by the camaraderie of the Paddlers, Support Staff and Safety Crews!

Most of the 30km field was made up of Members from Lane Cove River Paddlers who were the most welcome visitors, and fierce competitors! I must make special mention of the honesty of the info supplied by the 30km Paddlers, on which the handicaps were based on, which resulted in the most compact finish I can remember! Allan took full advantage of the almost windless conditions for a well deserved win in the 7.64km section. Cam was successful also, in the 11.35km course.

First to leave, in the handicapped 30km challenge, was Wade - and he was not "run down!" Fastest time went to Tim and Brent. Well done all! (the 30km was made up of three laps - Wyong to Tacoma)

Thank you everyone for a very enjoyable day! Regards, Nick.

Riverland Paddling Marathon 11-12 June 2023 - Report

Report: Don Johnstone
The Riverland Paddling Marathon was my first multi-day event, so I was unsure how to pace myself. My longest training paddle was 33k, and now I had to face the prospect of 63 to 76k per day for 3 days in a row. I didn't want to break myself on the first leg, but I was a little surprised by the pace at which Chris and Tony got out of the blocks on Day One from Berri, and when I found myself trailing, I decided to dig a little deeper and at least catch them. As it turns out, I was fastest to the lock on all 3 days (a sort of warm-up paddle of 12k to 20k), making the most of a rest opportunity before the serious leg of the day.

I'd packed a ton of warm clothes for both on and off the water, believing the tagline that the RPM is Australia's coolest marathon, but I never wore my pogies, never dried off or changed clothes during the day, and was plenty warm in just a long-sleeved thermal top and long thermal pants. Maybe that had something to do with a training regime focused around swimming from Manly to Shelly beach, in temperatures that have recently been as low as 15.1C.

My key learning? That if your fitness is fine (which mine was) and your pace is there or thereabouts, it all comes down to tactics quite similar to the Tour De France - make sure you do as little leading and as much wash-riding as possible, to conserve energy; dig deep when there's a relay changeover and the boat you're wash-riding gets fresh legs, because that was the commonest time for a split to form in the front pack (and I was usually the one who was dropped).

My more controversial observation: it doesn't matter much for endurance paddling if your technique is crap (I've had years of being reminded that my catch is too short and my hands are too low). I finished with almost no blisters, and with very little pain (the main issue being a sore right glute, which caused me to have a 2 minute stop on Day 2 and stand up, but it seemed to improve after a good glute massage on the night before Day 3). If your technique is good enough to stick with the front pack and not to cause you issues, then focus on enjoying the scenery and the racing rather than on your form.

What did I enjoy? I met a lovely bunch of 3 guys from Adelaide who were paddling a single relay at about my pace, and had a fun evening with them at the race dinner on Sunday night. I saw eagles, kites, a buzzard, and squadrons of pelicans, all of which inspired me (and made me realise that great technique is wonderful to watch, even if it's not my primary aim). I loved the peace of staying on the river, out of telephone range, and checking out the night sky. And I loved the racing.

Report: Fitzy - The Mighty Mighty SA Murray!
Born in Adelaide I spent some of my youth camping & boating & drinking (alot) on the banks of the mighty Murray….

In a short conversation with Don a week before entry cut-off & after a month off paddling on holidays…

  • Don “Come along Fitzy - it will be great fun”
  • Me “I’ve been in Italy eating pasta / pizza - I haven’t paddled in a month”
  • Don “You did 550 km Missouri 4 weeks after Covid”

So the best way with these things I find is to just “say fxck it why not & go for it…”

Scratch that ultra-event itch challenge me and others seemed burdened with !

Alas a gym knee rehab session my new knees both blew up the week before when I was planning to do some “training”… that’s life

So before doing any real distance training I then decided best to taper and take drugs – oh so many anti inflams - before I had even trained !

Much of these events really are mental (for mental people) – most Lane Covers have solid levels of fitness and energy – so it’s systems & planning & chat and chats…(and drugs).

The weather was great ! Trust me it gets cold down south in winter. I was very pleased with the nice temps. No pogies…basic thermals…perfect.

The brilliant land crew assistance and team work - my brother / Alanna / Merry and Duncan – each day helped beach the crippled whale ashore after a long day in the ski. The end of day Pumpkin soup was yummy.

I didn’t a need GPS map as our mate Don I shall now call “Dot” – seemed to be often a nice visual distance “dot” in front of me providing good guidance except he seem to have an infatuation for under cliff paddling !

The daily locks are a fun bonding experience! The post flood river flow wasn’t much at all but that didn’t matter…

Bent rudder day 2 getting in slowed proceedings but again you just push on down river. Gave me something else to moan about.

The river was at times just spectacular- I think much better scenery than what I saw when I did the Murray 400 km event.

Most of all it’s the camaraderie of Lane Cove - nightly catch up at the pub & in the locks - made it fun weekend away.

The pain & blisters fade quickly but the memory of achievement is there forever !

Report: Esther Wheeler
With the questionable decision making of camping so I could prepare for my next race! I went into the RPM having a bit of rose-tinted glasses. Both the camping and the paddling!!

Fortunately I realised in time that the joy of going away to a race with the club was to actually spend time with people. So ditched the tent and snuck into a house - thanks for squeezing me in!

I've never been to South Australia so the road trip was a highlight. I'm really grateful for Alanna and Tony driving me down, and Merry and Ruby, with Helen, squeezing me in for a bit on the way home. Everything was green instead of the expected red. I saw emus, big kangaroos. Even a pair getting ready to box! I also saw a lot of bakeries, which I think was the reason we went to South Australia in the first place to be honest.

The race itself was fun. Starting off in the first wave of slower people was great as we got the best sunrises of the race. Then, having fun in the lock. And by paddling the reliable Marlin, I was a preferred choice for rafting up. Only to abandon people as I could hare away over the turbulence once we headed out!

I realised my Yukon 1000 pace was a bit slow as I dawdled in the first day - sorry for worrying folk - I was getting into my groove of slow and steady. Day 1 headwind towards the end was the only time I made up on people in front of me. Something that became a habit every day. Day 2 I learnt that wash riding was my friend so anyone was in my sights. I hung with Andrew and Mark and a SUP for a while. They even waited a few seconds while I fixed my hat so I could jump on. The SUP was glorious to follow. I just sat there. He had to replace a fin and I couldn't stay with the boys. But I had a great ride. And then headwinds helped me (solid Marlin again!) and I got a lift into the finish from a solo ski who was happy to help as it'd taken them 14km to catch me!

Loved day 3. So beautiful. It was a push for me to hang on the wash of folk so no photos which was a real shame. Ruby caught me early before the lock, pay back for me beating her to the lock on day 2!!! And I wasn't letting go so I hung onto a tandem canoe, a solo canoe, a SUP and then me like little ducklings! From the lock I decided I'd just hang onto Ruby's wash and not let go. And very graciously she encouraged me to hop on. Based on how far she pulled me along I reckon she did the equivalent of 300km! We finished together which I was really happy about and shows how cool a person she is.

The RPM was a really fun experience. I enjoyed myself much more than I expected. Spending time and getting to know Lane Cove people more, experiencing such a beautiful river, having a not too shabby time considering I've not been training for shorter races. Every time a Lane Cove paddler went past me (and they all went past me once a day!) there were words of encouragement and cheering each other on.

It also shows that this race is within all of us to have a go at. It's not easy, but it is doable - and you should definitely come along next year and have heaps of fun while you are there!

New LCRK Ultra fitness program! (or a chance to think a lot)!

Update #1 - Intro

If you're like me and are still to get back to pre-Covid fitness, or you want to get to know club members better, or you really need time to think through your next adventure (a la Richard Barnes); now is the time to sign up for the club's ultra fitness program!

There is no limitation to new members of this program - if you can paddle, you can join. Let's not think about this as getting fit so we can paddle ultra-marathons, rather, let's think about it as using the ultra-marathons to get fit.

I had barely paddled more than a 6km time trial before I entered my first ultra marathon in 2012 - the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. While I scraped in a 30km paddle just before I undertook the 100km, I certainly wouldn't recommend this approach. A little bit of preparation goes a long way, and that's why I'm kicking off preparation now for the first ultra-marathon of the year (and in my opinion, one of the best), the Riverland Paddling Marathon.

The Riverland Paddling Marathon is from Berri to Morgan in South Australia from the 10-12th June. You can commit to the full 208km over the three days, or there are plenty of other options to share the experience, including shorter distances or relays. We often team up in cars to share the driving, stay in Hay on the way down (unless you're short of time), stay in Waikerie, eat at the pub together before an early night, and get up before the birds and experience the most beautiful sunrises over the river each morning. The scenery is spectacular, with standouts including the drowned trees in the lake, and the cliffs near Waikerie. Best of all is the friendly paddlers, who are all happy to cheer you along as they (or you) pass by. Accommodation gets tight - so it's a good idea to commit early and book your room now. Camping is possible but gets pretty frosty and after sitting in a kayak all day, having to sleep on a mat on the ground is only for the toughest competitors!

Once you've got a taste for it, there's plenty more you can join in on. Do one, or do them all! The Myall Classic at Tea Gardens, The Clarence 100 at Grafton, the Hawkesbury at Windsor (which needs as much support as the club can muster to guarantee its future), the Burley Griffin 24 hour, and the Murray Marathon in November are all planned to go ahead (pending natural disasters). There's a lot of fun to be had, endless experience in the club from past events, and lots of people willing to make this happen.

I'm taking on the role of ultra-motivator for this fitness program, so once I've got an idea of who's involved, we'll start talking about our training programs, and maybe even organise some fun training sessions. The focus will be not only on developing a kevlar bum (we might chat to Richard Barnes about that), but how to use other disciplines to build the necessary fitness - like cycling and swimming.

Come and talk to Ruby about getting involved. It's only a few kms of paddling...

Tom Simmat in the 2015 Riverland

Update #2 - Getting fit

I’ve put together a getting-fit program for myself and thought I’d share it for those of you wanting to do ultra-marathons but you’re starting from a low base. I’m not a guru, I’m not tracking my speed or my heartrate (yet), I’m not using sports gels, I don’t go to a gym. If you want that kind of program, there’s lots of people in the club who are better informed than me.

My plan involves starting at a level where I’m a bit uncomfortable then gradually building so that I stay uncomfortable. I want to have a raised heartbeat, I want to be tired after training, and I want to feel a little sore the next day.

For an ultramarathon, your program should have four activity pillars: cardio, strength, endurance and balance.

Cardio: This type of exercise helps your heart and lungs supply your body with oxygen, essential for endurance sports.

Fit in a minimum of two kayaking sessions a week, preferably three. I’ll be starting off with the Wednesday time trial, pushing myself so I keep my heart rate up. My second session will be on the weekend, and although I’ll start with 18-20km, I will definitely be increasing this so my sessions are a minimum of 30km after a few weeks, aiming for 40km if I have time. Because I’ve only got these two on-water sessions, my weekend session needs to be longer to build endurance. In my long paddle, I will be incorporating ladders. Anjie and I used to do these all the time when we were training in the double, and they’re great for building fitness and speed. Paddle 10 at 90-100%, then paddle 10 strokes at 70%. Step these up in 10’s, keeping your rest period at 10 strokes at 70% ie. 10-10,20-10,30-10, etc. Build to 60, then go back down to 10.

Endurance: This comes from the longer paddle, but also consider climbing stairs, swimming (at least 20 laps) – BEST form of cross-training for kayaking, cycling etc. Closer to the ultramarathon, I try to do at least a couple of weekends where I paddle two days in a row. Getting back in the kayak the next day is a challenge and it’s good to feel a bit more confident that you can do it.

'Strength: Three sessions a week. Kayakers benefit most from work on arms and shoulders, and hips, but as you’re using your whole body kayaking, most things help. Avoid building too much bulk – your focus is on resilience, not power.

Try things like:

  • shoulder presses with weights (use cans or other things at home if you don’t have weights)
  • using a resistance band, kneeling, pull the resistance band from high to low across your body, changing sides, and then reversing by having the resistance band low and pulling it up across the body
  • bent over rows (bent over at hips with flat back, lifting a bar or similar to your chest)
  • for your hips – standing kicking foot up to outreached hands, standing on one leg, doing circles with the other leg, doing side steps with a resistance band around your ankles, lying on your side with knees bent and butterflying out your knees with feet still together.

Balance: Good balance will give you a more efficient paddle stroke, and you’ll be able to paddle longer without getting tired. The key to developing balance is building core muscles. Incorporate these with your three days a week exercises, but you can add this in more regularly too:

  • plank – starting with at least 30 seconds and building each time you do one.
  • sit ups – aim for 4 sets of 20 and mix it up between standard crunches, crunches with lower legs raised parallel to ground, lifting legs to vertical, sit up with twist, mountain climbers and burpees (these last two are also great cardio and strength)
  • push ups – on your knees or on your toes. Pro level is lifting one foot off the ground.
  • sit to stand and stand to sit – sit on a chair or a step and stand without using your hands. Pro level is sitting on the ground and going to a stand!

Rest: Make sure you have two rest days a week and avoid doing two cardio or two strength sessions in a row. Allow your muscles to recover!

There’s lots of information online about how to get fit for kayaking. My plan is something I think I can manage and should see definite improvements. Personalise your program for what you know you need to work on, and how much time you have.

Keep an eye out for notices in TT reports or pre-reg emails for opportunities to join in on training paddles on sight.

Above: Tim B & Dave H in 2017 RPM off the bow of Cunard's Queen Murray (tbc) Photo: MCC SA