Massive Murray Paddle gets the green light for February
While the distance of the race will be the same (a whopping 415 km), the course route will be different.
The route on day one, from Yarrawonga to Tocumwal, will be run twice, across both day one and day two, and day four’s ride from Moama Beach to Torrumbarry Weir will also be run as day five.
The decision comes as a result of authorities concerned about the accessibility and safety of the ground staff at the checkpoints between Tocumwal and Piekniekpunt and within the Gunbower forest.
Race organizer and owner of Sydney Harbor Kayaks, Shannon O’Brien, said he was just happy the event still had to go ahead.
The past three years have seen one cancellation and two postponements of the iconic race, due to COVID-19 and the devastating floods.
“It’s certainly better than nothing,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It’s really hard for us as a small family business to keep postponing and changing the event date.
“We’ve been struggling for a few years now, so we’re very excited to have gotten permission from all of our major stakeholders.”
The new route means that participants will stay in towns such as Tocumwal and Echuca-Moama for a longer period, hopefully giving those towns a much-needed economic boost.
Some 130 adventurous paddlers across 45 teams signed up to wet their oars.
A number of new teams have declared themselves up for the challenge, with Deniliquin police teaming up with a group of First Nations youth and another team of paddlers coming all the way from New Zealand to try out the new format.
Mr O’Brien said most of the paddlers who didn’t want to risk being in the river so soon after the floods were put off until November 2023.
“There were only about 20 refunds requested,” he said.
“We already have 300 participants booked in for our regular November race.”
On Your Points: Massive Murray Paddlers Competing for First Place. Photo by Massive Murray Paddle (supplied)
While he understood people’s concerns, Mr O’Brien said the river was in good condition.
“Of course there will always be dangers, but our team is capable,” he said.
“Ironically, the water is probably the safer part right now. All the concern was more around the ground crews going through the forests with damaged tracks and falling trees.
“There is a lot of hard work from Parks Vic and NSW, from NSW Maritime and even from local councils. They reviewed all the checkpoints and even talked to arborists to come in and check the condition of trees.”
One of the highlights of this year’s race will be the ‘Be Bright, Be Seen Day’, on day three of the paddle.
Participants will be encouraged to dress themselves and their craft in bright colors as part of the launch of NSW Maritime’s new safety message for people to be identifiable when in the water.
Mr O’Brien said prizes would be given away to those who stood out the most.
“It just breaks up the seriousness of the race,” he said.
“The most important part we can never lose sight of is that this event is about raising money and having a little fun while we’re at it.”
The Massive Murray Paddle is one of the world’s longest paddling races and has been connecting people, river and land since 1969.
At 415km, it is the longest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and attracts competitors from around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The postponed 2022 Massive Murray Paddle will run from 27 February to 3 March.
Route for the February 2023 event:
• Day one and two: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal
• Day three: Picnic point to Moama Beach
• Days four and five: Moama Beach to Torrumbarry Weir boat ramp
Event organizers hope the event will return to the normal track route in November 2023.