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Pangbourne Canoe Club makes a splash

Over the final weekend of July, the Thames Valley around Pangbourne experienced several heavy downpours, not all of them courtesy of the weather. Over 1100 canoe marathon racers from 52 UK canoe clubs as well as several international paddlers descended on the peaceful stretch of River Thames between Mapledurham and Pangbourne to compete in this year’s British National Open Marathon Racing Individual and Team Championships.

The event, hosted for the second time by Pangbourne Canoe Club and multi-activity club, Adventure Dolphin on behalf of British Canoeing, was a huge success with over 50 races hotly contested and 49 overall champions crowned. The championships include races for different age classes and gender and vary in lengths from 3.5km to 26km with the longer distances including several portages – getting out and running with your boat for a minimum of 50 metres, which entertained the hundreds of spectators supporting alongside the riverbank.

Team GB were out in force throughout the weekend, with Lani Belcher and Tim Pendle winning the senior single titles. Record numbers of entries in the mixed doubles race saw 70 boats packed across the river for an eventful start. The highest scoring club over the weekend was Norwich Canoe Club who took home the team trophies for Under 12 paddlers and overall team points. Small but mighty Pangbourne Canoe Club picked up several medals over the weekend, finishing 12th club overall, with the Under 12 finishing 4th out of 23 teams.

The event, supported by local sponsoring partners, was organised and run by a team of 130 volunteers from Pangbourne Canoe Club, Adventure Dolphin, 1st Purley and Pangbourne Scouts and many other places including friends and family who all kindly gave up their weekend to help. With over 200 people camping on site and over 1000 people daily, the event covered several hectares of fields marked by an impressive array of flags and banners alongside various trade stands to make a colourful and impressive event setup.

Event organiser and member of Pangbourne Canoe Club, Vicky Metcalfe, said “We were delighted to host the National Canoe Marathon Championships for the second time. The event is a huge undertaking but thanks to our brilliant crew of volunteers, the weekend was a huge success. It was great to have a record number of boats on the water, which shows the strength and growth of marathon canoeing as a sport”.

Pangbourne Canoe Club host their annual canoe marathon race on Sunday 10th September and hope to beat entry records following the success of the National Championships.

Photos and videos of the event can be found on the Pangbourne Canoe Club facebook page.

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