Woronora Marathon 2018

In a sleepy corner of the Sutherland Shire, nestled along the shores of the Woronora River, is the Burnum Burnum sanctuary. As the sun rose this weekend, there was a rustle of activity and excitement by the river as the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club’s annual preparations were in full swing … the Paddle NSW Marathon Series was coming to the Shire! Sutherland Shire is not just a racing club, it’s a social club. Some of our most competitive members took their first tentative splashes in the sheltered beaches and mangroves around the clubhouse, shepherded by one of the club’s non-racing members.

On Saturday, many familiar faces turned up to lend a hand. Bill and president John were first up opening the club and unpacking the marker buoys before the rest of our merry band arrived, and in no time the course was set, the timing tent up and the BBQ fired up. Expecting a hot day, the chairs were laid out under the shade of the trees, and soon it was great to see little pockets of paddlers arriving from clubs across the state.

With over 200 paddlers on the water, the Woronora Marathon continues to be one of the most popular paddling events of the series. Congratulations to club president John Denyer for his first marathon at the helm, and as always to Gary Rake and the Shire’s own Gandalf, Bob Turner, for a well-run event.

On the water, it was a great turnout for the club with some impressive results, and a paddler competing in most divisions and every distance offered. I’m proud to say both the youngest (Lachlan Stokes, 12) and the oldest competitor (Albert Laurendet OBE – Over Bloody Eighty) both hailed from the SSCC.  We even had a couple of hobbits in the running with Gareth and I aka “Team Hobbits” (EK sponsorship pending) glad to be racing back in the Shire!

Overall it was great to see the rivalries play out on the popular 10K loop and catch up with so many before and after the event. With the racing done and dusted, just like a blockbuster production once the lights, cameras and drones have packed up and gone away, Peter Jackson is nowhere to be seen, and only the real heroes are left – the volunteers. There were too many of you to mention, so a big thank you to all who gave up your race or came along to help out in the safety boats, tuckshop, as course marshal or carpark supervisor, and of course to our timekeeper Kaye Laurendet, who keeps us all in line. The last of the volunteers helped pack down in the afternoon sun on Saturday, sharing their time, their smiles and a few good yarns. They really are a merry folk, and as a Shire hobbit, I know there is nowhere I’d rather be. In Div 13 Albert Laurendet OBE came 5th in 33:45 ahead of Woronora local Alistair Rowe who was 6th in a time of 34:28. Lachlan was the fastest junior of the day and came in 7th in a personal best over 5k 33:56 – a time that would put him above a lot of the adults in the club time trial, well done!

In Div 12 (10K) Liz O’Farrell will be feeling very pleased with her newly purchased Think Zen taking out 1st place in a time of 1:07:04

In Div 10 (10K) Sue and Ian McGuinness came in 3rd place in just over an hour at 1:00:12, quick enough to hop out of the boat and onto the BBQ!

In Div 9 (10K) Jeff Buchan put in an impressive performance in Deb’s Stellar SR, managing to push it around in 54:44 for 7th place.  New double act Greg Archibald and John Mollard (7th 56:31) just pipped fellow Shire paddlers Bruce Sherlock and Janet Small to the line (8th 56:34)

In Div 8 (15K) great to seeIan Purves is stepping back up the distances once again, tackling coming in 6th in a huge field of 18 paddlers in a time of 1:23:49.

In Div 7 (20K) – With son Ash taking a break from the water today to man the BBQ, Janine Wassens paddled her first full marathon (borrowing my lucky black Fusion) and really showed off what all that open water paddling has been doing for her fitness, smashing the field and crossing the line first in a time of 2:03:08.  Naughty nanna Deb Buchan fell victim to a bit of boat wash but narrowly avoided the Nemo award, admirably got back in and carried on, still managing to finish in 2:18:14.

In Div 5 (20K) Andrew Giardini took great delight in finally showing off his shiny brand new black Ski complete with Sutherland coloured racing stripes! A bit of local knowledge and probably a few songs sung saw him into 4th place in 1:59:32

In Div 4 (20K) with Ross out of action for a bit, Robyn Bingle recruited John Denyer to form the latest Shire super team. With a blistering 1:52:20 (3rd over the line) for the new pairing, questions are being raised over Robyn’s involvement in Ross’s injury…

In Div 3 (20K) the Dawson boat certainly knew the way around the course after clocking up so many kms in training here and it showed with an impressive 4th place in a tight field with a time of 1:46:23.

In Div 2 (20K) Team Hobbits (Gareth Stokes and Peter Faherty) had a great battle with a couple of Lane Cove rivals Tim Binns and former Supersonic owner Ian Hoffstetter, but after dragging them around for 18K*, we managed to leave them in the final sprint to the line coming 2nd in a time of 1:42:49

*that comment should get me in trouble at the next Lane Cove race!

– Peter Faherty