The iconic Murray Marathon will start from Yarrawonga on Boxing Day for the last time in 2013.RACHEAL WILLETT December 10, 2013 3:59pm
From next year the event will be held in November in a move YMCA Victoria hopes will ensure the long-term success of the event.
The dates for next year’s marathon, Monday, November 24 to Friday, November 28, were revealed first to the Yarrawonga Chronicle this week.
The decision comes after a long and thorough consultation process with the wider paddling community, local governments, canoe clubs, schools and other key stakeholders.
Ultimately the decision was made by the Murray Marathon Management Committee which arrived at the chosen dates with great anticipation of an exciting new era for the 45 year old event.
YMCA Victoria’s Acting Chief Executive Stephen Bendle said it had not been easy to find a new time to run the event that would please everyone.
“The Murray Marathon is a much loved and treasured event but the very plain reality for all of us is that fewer people are coming to the event in its current timeframe,” Mr Bendle said.
The marathon will still maintain the five, three and one day options, with a change to the one day option where paddlers will be able to nominate any day over the five days on which to undertake the one day challenge.
“We are optimistic that the earlier timeframe will work: it is in a window of time where other similar events have had continued and sustained success and opens up options for a whole new group of participants who find the Christmas/New Year time too difficult,” Mr Bendle said.
“The paddling community has very clearly communicated to YMCA Victoria the type of event it wants to see in years to come, so from that perspective, this change is very much paddler-led and we believe we are in a better position to ensure this event is sustainable for participants, YMCA Victoria and the Murray region which we support through fundraising and economic impact generated from the event.”
President Yarrawonga Mulwala Canoe Club Jared Loughnan said the date change was not a surprise to members at the club.
“Over the last decade we have seen a steady decline in the participant numbers even before Red Cross handed the reigns over to YMCA,” Mr Loughnan said.
“Providing a more flexible event with a date outside of the busy Christmas and New Year period will be more attractive to competitors, volunteers and those who road crew.
“This change will assist in putting the Murray Marathon on a more sustainable path.
“The last thing we want is such an iconic event to disappear altogether from the calendar.”
The Murray Marathon, for many years called the Red Cross Murray Marathon with the previous supporting namesake organisation, challenges paddlers to take on 404kms over five days, with options for individual competitors or team entries.
The event originated in 1969 when ten friends decided to paddle the Murray River to raise $250 for charity.
The marathon attracts on average 750 paddlers and 2500 support crew annually and from Yarrawonga passes through Tocumwal, Picnic Point, Echuca, Torrumbarry, Cohuna and Murrabit before culminating in Swan Hill.
Registrations for the 2013 Murray Marathon are now open, for more details on entry options go to www.murraymarathon.ymca.org.au
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