YMCA Massive Murray Paddle
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The Massive Murray Paddle is a 404 km, 5-day canoe/kayak flatwater race on the Murray River, bordering Victoria and New South Wales. One of the longest annual flatwater canoe races in the world, it starts in Yarrawonga on and heads downstream through Tocumwal, Picnic Point, Echuca, Torrumbarry and Murrabit before finishing in Swan Hill five days later. The Massive Murray Paddle is an amazing 5 day paddling adventure, that raises funds to assist local community-driven programs.
The tagline encompassing the event is 'Connecting People, River & Country'.
The event began in 1969 with a few friends organising a fundraiser for the Australian Red Cross, who then managed the event as a major fundraiser. After running the Marathon for 40 years, the Australian Red Cross announced in July 2008 that they would be ending their association with the event. The YMCA Victoria took over the event from 2009 to 2015. The event was then handed over to kayak & canoe specialists Sydney Harbour Kayaks and Mirage Sea Kayaks. This new management team will host their first event in November 2016.
Over the past 48 years all funds raised were exclusively used by the Red Cross or the YMCA. The 2016 event will be the first time the event's paddlers will be able to choose their own charities or social causes to raise funds for. It is expected that this model of fund-raising will have a far greater success in the total amount raised due to the fact that people will be connected to causes that are much closer to their own hearts.
There are also a number of lead up races to the Massive Murray Paddle (Murray Marathon). These include the, Hawksbury Canoe Classic, Echuca Mini, Barwon Mini and the Riverland Paddling Marathon.
Craft and entry classes
A wide range of classes cater for a wide range of craft, from racing canoes and kayaks as defined in the ICF regulations, through to touring craft as defined in Australian Canoeing regulations to surf skis, outrigger canoes and recreational paddle-craft such as sea kayaks. There are several special categories for paddlers using Mirage Sea Kayaks
Adult entrants can choose to paddle full distance, (or as long as they can manage), single day challenge or as part of a relay team. Junior entrants paddle a reduced distance, or as part of a junior or school relay team (which can paddle the full distance).
You are able to enter under the following categories: Individual paddlers Teams Relays (minimum of 4 paddlers) School Team Relays The K4 Challenge The 'Home-made / DIY' Challenge The Intro to the MMP (for Children & people with a disAbility)
Set your own personal goals, there are distance badges you could aim for:
- 50 km
- 100 km
- 200 km
- 404 km
The five days of the event for 2016 are:
- Day 1, 21 November . Yarrawonga to Tocumwal. 94 km with 4 checkpoints/5 stages
- Day 2, 22 November. Tocumwal to Picnic Point. 96 km with 4 checkpoints/5 stages
- Day 3, 23 November. Picnic Point to Echuca. 76 km with 4 checkpoints/5 stages
- Day 4, 24 November. Echuca to Torrumbarry. 63 km with 3 checkpoints/4 stages
- Day 5, 25 November. Murrabit to Swan Hill. 75 km with 3 checkpoints/4 stages
starting from 2016, the event will always be held mid week from Mondays to Fridays in the second half of November.
Officials record each paddler's progress at every checkpoint for safety and time-keeping purposes. Checkpoints allow competitors and teams to change paddlers, pick up refreshments and rest during the event. Results and standings are posted at each campsite.
A section of the river between Torrumbarry and Murrabit is not paddled. The course is sometimes changed if river and access conditions dictate, but total distance is maintained as best as possible. In some years, difficulty accessing the checkpoints (or due to extreme weather conditions)for Day 2 has seen the Day 1 course paddled twice.
The river is generally easy to paddle on, with plenty of deep water and currents of no more than about 3 knots. Some turbulence may be encountered on bends and a keen eye must be kept out for fallen trees which may extend well out into the river and be hidden below the surface of the water. Sections of the river are closed to recreational power boat traffic as the race passes through, but commercial (tourist) boat operations continue normal operations.
With volunteers, competitors and support crew numbers in the thousands, we recommend checking in at any of the many campgrounds along the river or some of the wonderful family owned hotel / motels.
Scrutineering and official briefing is held on 20 November at the football ground in Yarrawonga.
We recommend staying in the following towns throughout the event
Day 0 - Sunday 20 November - Yarrawonga: Day 1 - Monday 21 November - Tocumwal: Day 2 - Tuesday 22 November - Picnic Point, Moama or Echuca Day 3 - Wednesday 23 November - Moama or Echuca Day 4 – Thursday 24 November - Murrabit @ The Murrabit Recreation Reserve or hotels at Barham: Day 5 – Friday 25 November - Swan Hill There is a closing ceremony at Swan Hill after the event.
With the race being held in the early stages of an Australian summer, the weather can be as much of a challenge as the event itself. Temperatures of 40 °C are not unusual and remaining adequately hydrated and avoiding heat stroke are vital considerations for all involved.
Cut-off times apply for all checkpoints and the daily finish line. The cut-off times are generous and participants of average ability are normally capable of completing the stages within the prescribed times. While the competition in some classes can be fierce, the challenge for many is simply to complete the distance rather than to win, and atmosphere of the race is relaxed and friendly.
The Massive Murray Paddle inspired by the dreamtime story of the Traditional owners
"The Massive Murray Paddle provides an opportunity for people to over come challenges, whilst forming lifelong bonds. There is a cultural connection between the river, the people and the land.“ Tony Lovett – Organiser of the Blues & Brothers (An Indigenous Youth Group that has paddled the past 13 events)
For thousands of generations, Dhungalla (The River Murray) has sustained the lifestyles of the great nations that run the length of the river. To reflect on one of the creation stories of Dhungalla; The great hunter Ngurunderi, paddled his Nawi canoe down the river chasing the giant fish Ponde Murray Cod. The story continues with Ponde creating the bends, reaches and billabongs of the river, with Ngurunderi eventually catching the giant fish.
In designing the future of the Massive Murray Paddle, we take a couple of important messages from this story. Ngurunderi paddled a nawi and so do we. As paddlers we have a relationship to the story and therefore feel we have a responsibility to use our nawis to help sustain the communities along the river; the same way that indigenous Australians have done for 10,000 years.
After Ngurunderi caught Ponde, he cut up the fish and threw the pieces back into the river. This action then created all of the other fish in the river and added greatly to the food source of the regions. Giving back to the communities and respecting the culture of Dhungalla is at the very heart of the massive Murray Paddle. Under the banner, ‘connecting people, river & country’ we use the event to assist those in need and educate on the original culture and importance of the river.
The event will also be a platform for the local Indigenous people of the stretch of water we paddle on to teach us more about the balance and sustainability of Dhungalla. Embodying the best of the spirit of Australia, the Massive Murray Paddle is a celebration of community and landscape.