What is Canoe Marathon?

What is Canoe Marathon?

Marathon Canoeing is a fun, but challenging, endurance sport, that happens across the country on rivers, lakes and canals. It offers progressive challenges from a couple of miles or kilometres to the ultimate challenge of the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. As you learn more boat handling skills, it becomes tactically as well as physically challenging, with boats racing in groups and contesting sprint finishes.

The racing system in the UK is based on ability divisions, so you can learn as you race against people of similar speed to you. As you progress, you’ll get promoted to higher divisions and ultimately face some of the best paddlers in the world and country.

Racing boats are surprisingly accessible. Beginner boats are very stable and steer easily, with most races on calm inland rivers and canals. Top end boats are long, thin, and tippy as they are built for speed. This gives the sport the speed of running with the tactics of road race cycling.

Canoe racing clubs offer a combination of marathon, and sprint racing, with beginners equipment, coaching and club sessions to develop skills and fitness. Our sister discipline, Canoe Sprint, is included in the Olympic Games, and many athletes pursue both disciplines of the sport.

Over 70 regional or national events were held across the country in 2017, with over 12,000 race entries. In our flagship competitions, the inter-club Hasler Finals, the National Marathon Championships and National Short Course Championships, over 1,000 racers vie for honours across age and ability classes. Races are organised typically every weekend between March and October and a few over the winter too. All the competitive events are shown on the Flatwater Racing Calendar.

Canoe Marathon has seen strong growth in recent years, with more race entries and the Great British team consistently performing well on an international level. In 2022, Canoe Marathon had it’s debut at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. Sam Rees-Clark and James Russell achieved top ten places in both Short Course (3.6km) and Standard distances (21km).