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Last December Murray Marathon is this week

This year’s traditional Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve Murray Marathon will be the last one in the event’s 45-year history, with next year’s race set to take place on November 24-28.

December 26, 2013 4:20am

As paddlers prepare for the 404km journey along the Murray River from Albury to Echuca this week, some locals are preparing to bid farewell to the event.

Berrigan Shire general manager Rowan Perkins said the event’s popularity had decreased significantly in recent years.

‘‘This is a last-ditch attempt to allow the event to continue,’’ Mr Perkins said.

He said he thought the date change would have a positive impact.

‘‘We see some merit in it.

‘‘December is already a peak visiting time (for tourists).

‘‘It will work better for the tourism industry by extending visitor numbers outside that.’’

Mr Perkins said the new date would also suit school groups and fit in with other sporting events.

‘‘It does tag well onto things like the Great Victorian Bike Ride,’’ he said.

But he said the date change clashed with the smaller Murray 40 canoe race, which takes place three weeks before the Murray Marathon.

Cobram Barooga Canoe Club president John Wiseman said the group would move the Murray 40 to November 1.

Mr Wiseman said most competitors used the Murray 40 as a test for the support crews and general operation during the Murray Marathon.

‘‘Our race allows competitors in the Murray Marathon to have a good hit out at set ups,’’ Mr Wiseman said.

‘‘It lends itself very well to preparation.’’

YMCA Victoria acting chief executive Stephen Bendle said in a statement the event date had been changed after consultation with the canoeing community.

Mr Bendle said November 24-28 was highlighted as the most preferable date.

‘‘The Murray Marathon Management Committee appreciate that of course the new dates won’t suit everyone,’’ Mr Bendle said.

‘‘But we also know the current dates don’t suit everyone either.

‘‘Decreasing entries in recent years clearly indicates the event can’t continue in the Christmas to New Year period.’’

Mr Bendle highlighted extreme weather and clashes with other events as actors in the decision to move the event from the holiday period.

The five-day Murray Marathon starts in Yarrawonga and will pass through Tocumwal this Friday.

Participants are expected to start arriving in the town from 2pm.

From Tocumwal, participants then travel to Picnic Point, Echuca, Torrumbarry, Murrabit and Swan Hill.

To view daily results or route maps, go to www.murraymarathon.ymca.org.au.

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