Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Paddlers finish first marathon leg

Greg Smith and Stephen Monger crossed the line first during the opening leg of the Murray Marathon yesterday.

December 28, 2012 4:07am

Greg Smith (left) and Stephen Monger were first across the line in yesterday’s leg of the Murray Marathon. Photo: Mark Dadswell.

The first leg of the 404km YMCA Murray Marathon started yesterday, with paddlers travelling from Yarrawonga to Tocumwal.

About 400 paddlers took part in the leg and hit the water in stages from 7am, with another 100 paddlers expected to join the marathon from tomorrow to Sunday as part of the three-day and one-day events.

First across the line were NSW’s Greg Smith and Stephen Monger in Two Short Men, completing the 94km stage in an unofficial time of seven hours, one minute and 50 seconds.

Smith and Monger, who are taking part in the full distance open veteran 50-plus category, finished ahead of 18-year-old Casey Haynes (Victoria) and full distance open veteran 60-plus competitor Tom Simmat (NSW), who has previously won the marathon on handicap.

It was the fourth time Smith and Monger have taken line honours — with the two paddlers racking up 14 combined appearances at the marathon.

‘‘Our aim was always to finish and enjoy ourselves,’’ Smith said.

‘‘We made sure we stopped and encouraged people as we went, which is what it’s all about.

‘‘We love the event, it’s all for a good cause. I don’t feel too wrecked, (but) we had some stiff competition.’’

In hot conditions, the tail wind which paddlers started with quickly turned to a stiff head wind.

But, in keeping with the spirit of the event, the early finishers shrugged off their fatigue and finished all smiles.

Today is a 96km stage from Tocumwal to Picnic Point.

The marathon will wend its way into Echuca tomorrow for the third day of the event, arriving at Vic Park from Picnic Point and will continue from Vic Park on Sunday morning, making its way to Torrumbarry.

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