Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Red Gum Watermen are rapt with Murray Marathon effort

Barry Bell and his team are delighted after a strong performance to finish 17th in the Murray Marathon.

MATTHEW GALEA January 1, 2014 4:10am

The Red Gum Watermen were easy to spot in their six-person outrigger. Picture: MDPhotography/Mark Dadswell

The Murray Marathon came to an end for another year at Swan Hill yesterday, and it was a rewarding journey for Barry Bell.

Bell and his team, which included Murray Marathon veterans Rod Clarke, Tony Bond and Rod Pell, as well as Dylon Gascoigne and Bell’s grandson Ashleigh, both of who were fellow first timers, finished off the gruelling event strongly.

At the finish line, Bell didn’t waste words in describing the feeling.

‘‘We’re knackered,’’ Bell said.

‘‘We’re glad to be finished, but we went really well today and set a good time.

‘‘We did it 20 minutes quicker than yesterday, which was the exact same course, so we’re rapt with that.’’

The Red Gum Watermen finished 17th in the overall handicap event, a result Bell and his teammates were more than happy with.

‘‘It feels good to have done it,’’ Bell said.

‘‘It’s a 44-year-old item I can scratch off the bucket list.

‘‘I’m used to sitting on the river and watching it back when I was a young fellow, and I used to say to my mates that I was going to do it one year.’’

The six-person outrigger the crew raced handled well and will now make its way to Shepparton, where Bell hopes to use it on Victoria Park Lake to get more people interested in the sport.

Shepparton’s Team Shampain also successfully completed the race, with Veronica Hibble and Robyn Mandaradoni taking the boat across the line despite it tipping over a few kilometres short of the finish line.

‘‘It was the toughest day for us two, we paddled two legs,’’ Hibble said.

‘‘We tipped it over, but one of the paddlers helped tow us to the side so we didn’t waste too much time and kept going.

‘‘What a feeling it was crossing the line, the girls had some champagne waiting for us, which was good of them.’’

The team, which also comprised Julie Natalizio, Maryann Linehan, Trish Francis and Robyn Banfield, finished the race in 29hours, 27min and 19sec, making it the 26th fastest boat.

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