Fish River Canyon canoeing marathon


It’s that time of the year, spring is here and the Fish River Canoe Marathon is around the corner! The Fish canoe race started in 1982 and has since grown to be one of the biggest canoeing races in the country and also one of the most popular in the world.
On Friday, 27 September, the day will kick off early with paddlers having to run 50m to their canoes. This is Karoo valley, so ensure that you are wearing the proper shoes to avoid any thorns that could delay your run.
The first of the obstacles will be Colletts weir. Once you have cleared this obstacle, it will take you into the narrow, fast waters of the river. In this section there are willow trees and just like the Whomping Willow in the Harry Potter series, watch out for the branches! There are also fences that keep livestock from straying to contend with.
The next few stages are just as challenging for the paddlers: there is a low-level bridge, a grade 3+ rapid (biggest one of the race) and weirs that will ensure only the best paddle and not swim. The route’s end is clearly marked by following the green arrow where the end will be in sight.
Day two (Saturday, 28 September) promises more excitement for the brave paddlers, even though this route is shorter (about 25% shorter) than the previous day’s route. The four weirs on this leg are what makes it unique. This route is calmer and allows the paddlers to enjoy the fantastic Karoo landscape.
It has some long pools, reeds and sandstone banks. The first challenge for the paddlers would be Baroda bridge, which was built in 2016 and is also the most challenging part of the day.
After clearing the bridge, the paddlers will have to face the three famous weirs: Gauging weir, Marlow Chute and Cradock weir. Cradock weir is the largest of the three. It is V-shaped and has a double sloped face (straight down and 45 degrees down). There are safety precautions in place for this weir and lifeguards at the ready to ensure your safety!
From there the end is nigh … only 5km to go! Watch out for the rapids and holes, also keep an eye out for a stray golf ball when you pass Cradock Golf Course!
This is definitely not a race to be missed if you are an avid paddler. There will be ambulances, lifeguards and other emergency personnel along the way, should there be a need for them.
Even if you are not a paddler, make a weekend of it and go and enjoy it with your friends or your family. – Ané Prinsloo Source:


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