Victorian Red Cross

Murray Marathon

Tips by Laurie Collett


Laurie Collett and Pat Whittleston from WA, both experienced paddlers, were the oldest mixed doubles to have attempted this endurance paddle in the history of the event. The following hints are a result of their 2002 epic adventure. Support person, Dorothy Blake, has hints for the support crew which will appear here shortly.


Lots of this! Test your gear and clothing for possible problems.

Unless racing, stability is important - there can be considerable current and underwater snags
Comfortable seating is essential - foam, air cushion, etc
TK was a popular choice of craft for non- competitive paddlers.
Double craft provides company - otherwise have a paddling mate in another single.

- be aware of possibility of chafing and blisters - go without some of the usual underwear?
sun protection during hot weather - hats, sunglasses, sunscreen applied frequently, long sleeves, gloves, footwear
warmth if there is a cold spell. You can have a heat wave and then a cold, wet, windy change on the one day!

Support Crew
Two support vehicles are better than one! There are many other vehicles and it takes time to get between check points. You may have to park a long way from the river. If there is only one support vehicle, consider staying at accomodation and eating out rather than camping. Packing up a campsite every day is time and energy consuming.

Be aware that access to the river bank at some check points can be difficult - banks can be steep and high and muddy. 

During the race

Pace your race - keep some energy in reserve!
Personal wellbeing - have plenty of rest stops to eat (carbo especially) and drink (suppelements help), rest and stretch. Adequate fluid intake,especially during hot weather is very important. Many people suffered dehydration. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia if it is cold and what to do about it! Blisters and tendonitis are common problems so be prepared with your first aid kit.

The river
The water is murky,
There are snags and fallen trees.
The current varies.
The second half of the last day has fast current with eddies, boils and whirlpools.
Take advantage of flow around bends: though we are told, theoretically, the fastest current is on the outside of the bend, sometimes it appeared that this was not the case with all of this section of the Murray!
There can be shallow water on bends.
It is generally a windy river with a bend every 500m. Difficult to judge how far you've paddled!
Sometimes there are sandy beaches and sometimes the river bank is steep and high and muddy, making access and rest stops difficult.
There are few sandy beaches on Day Two.

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