The Murray River Marathon EXPERIENCE!!!


404KM – 5 DAYS – 1 RIVER – The Mighty Murray Marathon!! 26th – 31st December 2011

This iconic event is a 404km, five day flat-water race along the mighty Murray River – bordering Victoria and New South Wales, Australia. The race starts in Yarrawonga on the 27th December and heads downstream through Tocumwal, Picnic Point, Echuca, Torrumbarry and Murrabit before finishing in Swan Hill on New Years’ Eve.

PRE RACE DAY Tension and excitement is building as the sun sets for the final time before we embark on this crazy long adventure. Sharon and Darryl will be our start crew with Grant and I taking over at the 22km mark. We will cover a total distance of 94 km tomorrow with 5 crew changes throughout the day. Our category start time is at 915am. All that is left to do now is have good nights sleep and give it our best tomorrow.


DAY 1 – Murray River Marathon

After 7 hours and 16mins and having paddled 90 plus kms we were all in agreement its better to share the pain with our team-mates than do this race solo. I personally was very happy to see the finish line. I was hurting and getting rather delirious during the last 5km.  We are all in high spirits and apart from some super juicy blisters we have no complaints. Sharon took a hit for the team today doing the most kms for our team. It will be my turn tomorrow to do a double paddling leg. We have just had dinner and a massage (can you believe they are only charging $5 for massages?) The poor therapists are getting smashed.  




DAY 2 – Murray River Marathon.

Today hurt like hell!! My team mates suffered with the usual numb bum and blisters while I had a elbow that felt like it had a freaking knife in it!! With 5 stages and only 4 paddlers in our team one of us had to have a big day. Today I was the one to take a hit for the team doing 3 stages and a total of 55km!! The only thing that took my mind off the pain was watching all the bogans and ferals camped along the waters edge (there have been some smelly and unattractive sights).  I think they all come here to drink, smoke and get fat. But along with my team we made it to the end.


DAY 3 – Murray River Marathon.

Well so far we have lived and breathed this river. Not only have we paddled a foolish amount of this river we have also lived beside it, bathed in it (had no amenities first night we camped) washed our clothes and washed our dishes in it. Last night we stayed in a camp site called Picnic Point which was in the middle of nowhere and also the first stage for today’s race. It was a nice campsite and it was great to have “real” showers even if it was non-filtered river water.

Today was a lot of fun with lots of fast moving water, river bends and heaps of snags. We saw a kangaroo swim across the river at one point, which was a hoot!! The checkpoints were interesting and it was sometimes hard to get to the water for the changeovers. Paddlers were using ropes to lower themselves down. Sharon and Darryl had a challenging paddling to the finish sharing the river with paddle steamers. Thank God my elbow didn’t have that knife stuck in it today. My body held up well today. Tomorrow will be easier with 4 stages instead of 5. It feels great to explore more of what the Australian bush has to offer.  We often see emus and kangaroos hanging out together.

 DAY 4 – Murray River Marathon. – RED DAY

What a hoot. There were people dressed in red capes, shower caps, lady beetle hats and much more. We wore red tinsel wigs and decorated out boat in red tinsel.  We looked great – but the tinsel hair was not so practical. I never knew how much I breathed through my nose until I continually had tinsel getting sucked up my nostrils. Not such a great thing when you are busting your gut to hold onto the leaders wash for 15km. I also couldn’t see because the tinsel blew around onto my face and stuck firmly to my sunglasses. Very funny!!! But we looked great and that’s all that matters!!!

Although today was predicted to be an easy day at only 63km we all complained of hard sluggish conditions. The water felt heavy and slow and we were all feeling the heat. Today was a long hard slog and we really felt the previous 3 days of hard work finally catching up with us. I really felt the paddling spirit between all the paddlers out on the water today. Everyone was doing it tough and it was showing on everyone’s faces. It was nice to hear all the encouragement between all the teams and solo paddlers doing there best to make it to the finish. Oh the flies – Dirty rotten buzzing things. I have NEVER experienced swarms of flies like at the finishing line. Grant had to make me a fly swatter out of a leafy branch of a tree. My skin crawls when I think about it.


DAY 5 – The last day of the Murray River Marathon – Currumbin Cruisers.

403km DONE – 60300 strokes for each paddler in our team!! The starts are always interesting because they only let you on a few minutes before the start gun fires (no warm ups for the hard core Murray paddlers). But today was extra enjoyable as we sunk up to our thighs in sticky mud getting into our kayaks. No time to wash it off, straight to the start line for us caked in mud. It was a hard task steering the kayak as my feet slipped and slopped around in all the mud all over everything. I felt good for that first 15km off the start. Then after driving along a bumpy, dusty dirt road for what felt like forever to find the check point Delta (again in the middle of no where) i hit the wall. I turned off the engine of the car, turned to Grant and said “OH NO”.  Oh shit we had to quickly get ready and paddle another 25km!!!

That 25km was a long and lonely trip with no one else to be seen anywhere. My heels were hurting, my bum was hurting, and my hands were blistering. The heat of the day had set in and instead of my drink hydrating me it was making me feel nauseous and sick. The river is beautiful but every stretch and bend looks the same. If only we had some dirty, smelly bogan, feral camp sites to look at. (I shouldn’t have complained the other day). I was expecting a jolly swag man to be camped by the billabong – its that kind of country. The motor in the back had blown and it was very hard going!!!

To come around the bend and see two fluro yellow dressed people waving their paddles above their heads felt like paddling towards heaven!!! WE MADE IT!! Sharon and Darryl took over and paddled us to the finish line. We jumped in the water and congratulated them as they crossed which was really nice.

It’s been a great journey. Every one who takes part and completes this challenge is a real champion. People of all ages and walks of life are here willing to give it a go. It shows guts, determination and real mental toughness to complete the Murray River Marathon. Its amazing what your mind and body is capable of when you give it a chance.