Marathon Nationals 2023, by Sienna Payne
The annual weekend of Marathon Nationals rolled around again on the 22nd and 23rd of July at Norwich Canoe Club this year and what a competitive weekend it is! Despite not having a huge turn out, our almost 30 paddler strong team smashed every race they entered with podium placers in almost all of them. Saturday captured individual talents in Kl while Sunday featured duos in a day of K2 racing, ending the weekend with the chaotic race of mixed K2.
Starting off, bright and early on Saturday, we saw the Over 54s, Over 59s and Under 14s set off from Team Chelmsford. On the first start we saw Richard Ager and Graham Warland battle out a large field of 28 paddlers in which, Richard placed 4th narrowly missing out on a podium position in a sprint finish, but no less of a fantastic performance! Similarly a minute later, Graham also fought out a close finish taking a strong 9th. Following this, we watched Matteo Bose on his first national marathon start line in ul4s, placing 6th in his class, a very impressive result! Tracey Avery and Jackie Russel were the next to be set off in Over 54 women who both took a happy 10th and 12th respectively. Finally on the 9am start, we saw Nicole O’Halloran and Deborah Wilkes begin the 6.5km race in Over 59s. Both put in an admirable performance with Nicole placing 9th and Deborah 11th.
Once those races returned, the 10:30 start began warming up. First off, we saw the Senior Men’s begin, in which James Russell took an impressive win earning the first podium position of the weekend! Matthew Johnson followed taking a 3rd a few minutes later, while Mark Wilkes endured the race and finished 15th. Next up were the U23 Men’s, which Alex McIntyre took a strong 2nd and Tim Gannicott-Porter a solid placed 5th. In the highly competitive start of UI 8 boys, Daniel O’Halloran also experienced his first marathon nationals and took a solid 15th in a field of 30 racers.
In a smaller field, the Senior Women were up next. Melissa Johnson battled out a close finish, just taking a win against Fay Lamph, a fellow competitor. After a last minute entry, Leah Faltrick also podiumed taking a bronze. With no U23 women, our next result was from Sienna Payne in the UI 8 women in which she placed 2nd earning another silver for Team Chelmsford.
At 1:30pm, the UI6s set off for a 13km race with 3 portages. Featuring in UI6 boys, we saw both Cassian Payne and George Hampton take part in their first Marathon Nationals. Both put up an impressive performance as the weather had begun to turn windier and rainy. Cassian took an excellent 5th while George took 14th narrowly missing the position in front.
In the final starts of the day, we watched the Over 49 Men’s set off in which Mark Hampton took 13th in a large field of 26. And a few minutes later, our final competitors were Gayle McKeand and Alex Stratford in Over 44s. Both battled the wind and rain and endured right to the finish ending Team Chelmsford’s performance for Saturday by placing 7th and 8th respectively.
As Saturday switched to Sunday, Kl s were switched for K2s and our first Chelmsford crew was Martin Stroud and Phil Russell in Over 54 Men’s which with a solid performance they placed a happy 16th.
Slightly later at 10.15am, we saw the Senior Men’s race set off. A hotly contested race in which Chelmsford claimed every position on the podium! Dan Johnson claimed the win with Tom Lusty, over 5 seconds in front of the following crew who they had been racing around with: Alex McIntyre and Matthew Johnson. The McIntyre/Johnson crew therefore took second, followed by William Stroud and Keith Moule taking third after dropping James Russell and his partner Charlie Smith who took 4th. A tough race for all competitors with impressive results shining through.
Next up representing Team Chelmsford were the Over 34 Men’s and Over 44 Women’s. John Avery and his partner Toby Flack from Cambridge podiumed taking a strong 3rd in their race. While Alex Stratford and Tracey Avery endured the wet and windy conditions for their 13km race and placed 8th.
Finally to the last race of the day: the Mixed K2. A highly anticipated event by everyone which led to some impressive results, including all the podium positions. Following his Kl win, James Russell paired up with Maggie Dilai from Nottingham and again took gold! The pair had a very impressive sprint finish pulling ahead just enough to earn themselves the win. Matthew and Melissa Johnson, took silver and taking bronze was Keith Moule (Batman) with his ally Fay Lamph (Superman) from Wey. Not even a minute behind were William Stroud and Sienna Payne after an unfortunate start and a tough climb back into the race to claim a strong 6th. Lauren Avery and Alex McIntyre had teamed up, and placed similarly to the last minute crew of Alex Bunyon and Leah Faltrick who placed 17th. Tim Gannicott-Porter and Lily Stratford followed soon after taking 24th and the final Chelmsford crew to cross the line that weekend was James Walkinton with his partner Charlotte Enoch taking 34th, both of the last two crews having a very impressive portage.
Overall, despite having barely 30 paddlers across the entirety of the whole weekend, Chelmsford scored 1837 which placed us 4th. An excellent performance for so few competing. So a massive congratulations and well done to all competitors that raced that weekend! As well as a big thank you to Norwich Canoe Club for hosting the event and everyone who supported Team Chelmsford across the weekend, including the Team Leader Lily Stratford, who helped organise and support everyone in their races.
Next up in the diary for the club is the Inter-Club MacGregor Regatta in September so be thinking towards what races you could be entering that weekend. And a good luck to all paddlers who have entered to race in Spain at Sella in the beginning of August.