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Echuca leg of Murray Marathon runs smoothly

Bush Pigs In Red’s Michael Dinkgreve and Gary Porter crossed the line first in yesterday’s leg of the YMCA Murray Marathon.

GEORDIE COWAN December 30, 2013 4:59am

Bush Pigs In Red’s Michael Dinkgreve and Gary Porter.


The Echuca leg of the 45th YMCA Murray Marathon went off without a hitch yesterday.

More than 200 paddlers started from the Victoria Park boat ramp for the 63km leg to Torrumbarry, well rested after paddling on Saturday was cancelled because it was a day of extreme fire danger.

Under race rules, the race is cancelled under extreme or code red days in the northern country fire district, resulting in the cancellation of the 76km leg from Picnic Point to Echuca.

Starting about 7am, the first paddlers crossed the finish line in Torrumbarry just after noon, with Dandenong Ranges friends Michael Dinkgreve and Gary Porter — Bush Pigs in Red — the first to finish.

In his 26th year of taking part, it was the first time Dinkgreve had claimed line honours, while it is Porter’s first try at the full distance.

‘‘After the first few times I competed in the event I thought I was a long way off being first across the line,’’ Dinkgreve said.

‘‘After 26 times it’s been a bloody long wait.’’

Porter said paddling a large distance at pace was difficult, but made easier if completing the challenge with the right people.

‘‘Just thrilled with the result. I’m sore, but having someone like Mick around has really helped me push through,’’ he said.

YMCA event manager Lee Conway said while cancellation of the second day was not ideal, everyone understood the situation and had reacted accordingly.

‘‘We are as pleased as we could be,’’ he said.

‘‘Everything we can control has gone really well.

‘‘It’s disappointing we haven’t been able to paddle every day but safety has got to be our priority and the decision to cancel day two was well understood and supported by paddlers.

‘‘Today was a fantastic day on the water in stunning conditions.’’

Paddlers reported a tough head wind later in the day, providing an extra challenge to tired competitors after what had been calm conditions in the morning.

The marathon will finish with back-to-back 75km Murrabit to Swan Hill legs today and tomorrow, with extra YMCA Murray Challenge paddlers expected today.

‘‘The next two days...should be great,’’ Conway said.

‘‘It’s an area that really rallies behind the event and it will be a great day to celebrate the last traditional marathon.’’

Organisers do not expect the recent grass fire at Swan Hill to impact on the marathon.

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