Three kiwi paddlers trekked across the ditch for the Australian and Oceania Marathon Championships over the weekend, coming away with some impressive results, most notably Liam Lace winning the U23 Oceania title.
Liam, alongside Tim Waller and Emma Kemp, travelled to Geelong, Victoria for Easter weekend where an electric atmosphere was created by more than 300 athletes over 4 days of racing.
The short course racing on Friday showed the high level of competition, with the kiwis getting caught up in carnage off the line, although all three paddlers managed to come away with top 10 results.
The long course races on Saturday was the focus and strong performances were put down.
Liam, the NZ National Marathon Champion for the last 2 years, stayed in contention through the fast start of his 25km U23 race and was in the front group with just one other paddler at the first portage at the 12km mark. From there, they worked together to stay out ahead before Liam was able to break away at around 18km. He held onto the lead to win the race by nearly 3 minutes and become the Oceania U23 Marathon Champion.
“Stoked to take my first Oceania title and it gives me more confidence and motivation as I head into the marathon season.” said Liam.
“It was a hard start but after some burns the field was whittled down pretty quickly. With quite a long portage (200m), I knew I needed to be in the front at the first one, and I accomplished this. Then I just tried to avoid mistakes and managed to capitalise on other people’s, which got me out in front until the end.”
Liam completed the course in 1.59.29.
Tim Waller finished 10th in the 29km Open Mens race in a time of 2 hours and 27minutes, 11minutes behind the winner Australian Josh Kippen.
The U23 Womens race was an incredibly close affair, with less than 16seconds between the top four finishers after 21km. Emma Kemp missed out on a podium placing by just 4 seconds, completing the course in 1.49.10.
Emma was back racing in the open Womens K2 race on Sunday, pairing up with Alana Johnson, a paddler from Victoria. Despite never having paddled together before, the women were able to secure the bronze medal in an impressive performance.
“This was an awesome experience and the Aussies know how to put on a wicked event. We want to thank everyone who helped us get here, in particular James Pralija for his help with boats and equipment and Terry Newsome for his support at the event.” said Liam on behalf of the team.
“We are really looking forward to the NZ Marathon Nationals in a few weeks, with our eyes on the 2023 ICF Marathon World Championships over the winter.”
Well done to Liam, Tim and Emma for their efforts.
See full results
The 2023 New Zealand Canoe Marathon Nationals are set to be held at Waitemata Canoe & Multisport Club in Auckland on the 20th and 21st May. With individual races on Saturday and K2 racing on Sunday, there are races available for all age groups and craft types.
Click here for more information and to enter