On Saturday 30th July a team of 7 set off from Bishops Stortford at 10:00am in two vehicles to take part in the Nete Marathon. The race is 13 miles long and hosted by Kastelse Kayak Klub based in the East of Belgium. After a short hop on the train under the English Channel it was around 150 mile drive to Kastelse and we arrived late afternoon.
Race day came with some early hours rain but by mid-morning the sun was out and the temperature was climbing nicely. Danny had to attend the team leaders meeting at 12:00 to confirm our entries, collect the numbers and drinks tokens (yes, our Euro 4.00 race entry came with a free drink at the bar after the race!) and to discuss a possible course change due to recent flooding washing away the sandy banks and draining the last 1.5km of the river and filling it with silt. It was decided to finish the race 1.5km downstream of the club and then everyone could paddle gently or walk the last section back.
Dave overtook Joe F and closed the gap to less than a minute on Joe S by the end of the run and Heidi also run well over this portage putting plenty of time between her and Chris (still recovering from a knee injury).
The last 5km was the section of river that had been damaged by flooding 2 weeks ago and had largely been drained and filled with the sandy soil from the banks. This section was also fairly fast flowing against us and seemed extra tough having spent the previous 15km on deep wide canal. This section did somehow seem to suit the Stortford paddlers with all of us gaining places. This could be due to the weed on our own canal creating a similar effect on water depth and drag.
After a quick shower Danny and Dave retrieved the car left at the start whilst everyone else made the most of their free drinks tokens. Boats were loaded on the cars and tents etc packed in the boot and following prize giving we left the club at 6pm arriving home around 11:30pm. This was an extremely success club social trip with the added bonus of a great race. It was also extremely cheap and an event it would be great to see many more of you attend next year. We extend our gratitude to Kastelse Kayak Klub for the great hospitality and for looking after us so well.
Senior Men’s K1
Matt Parkes – 5th - 1:34:48
Joe Surrage – 9th – 1:41:42
Joe Fitzpatrick – 13th – 1:56:46
Senior Ladies K1
Heidi White – 2nd – 1:56:45
Danny Beazley – 1st – 1:34:51
Super Veterans K1
Dave Hallam – 2nd – 1:45:22
Chris Sze – 5th – 2:03:25