YMCA Massive Murray Paddle
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The Massive Murray Paddle is an Australian 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 a 5 day event that raises funds to assist local community-driven programs.
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, to host their first event in November 2016.
Over the past 48 years all funds raised were used by the Red Cross or the YMCA. From 2016’s event, paddlers were able to choose their own charities or social causes to raise funds for.
There are also a number of lead up races to the Massive Murray Paddle (Murray Marathon). These include the, Clarence 100, Hawksbury Canoe Classic, Echuca Mini, Barwon Mini and the Riverland Paddling Marathon.
Craft and entry classes
A 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
The 2017 event saw a surf boat and several stand-up paddle boards (sups) including a two person SUP.
Adult or Junior entrants can choose to paddle full distance, (or as long as they can manage), single day challenge or as part of a relay team.
The five days of the event for 2016 were:
- Day 1, 21 November . Yarrawonga to Tocumwal. 94 km with 3 checkpoints
- Day 2, 22 November. Tocumwal to Picnic Point. 96 km with 3 checkpoints
- Day 3, 23 November. Picnic Point to Echuca. 76 km with 3 checkpoints
- Day 4, 24 November. Echuca to Torrumbarry. 63 km with 3 checkpoints
- Day 5, 25 November. Murrabit to Swan Hill. 75 km with 3 checkpoints
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.
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.