Why Race the 10km Series – with Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie

In a welcome boost for the Kayak Krazy 10km series, NZ Kayak men’s squad members Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie finished one-two in the open men’s race in Tauranga last month. Here the pair, who earlier this year secured a K2 1000m slot for New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics, offer their thoughts on why paddlers should compete in the series. 

1 – Better than a training session

As sprint paddlers, Max and Kurtis regularly execute 40 minutes or so of effort in their training pieces. So for the pair racing 10km for a similar length of time does fit in with their training needs.

“Racing 10km is like doing a really hard threshold session,” explains Max. “So by racing in the 10km series, it is a good opportunity to change up the training, but do so in a way which is slightly different for your mind and body.”

Kurtis admits competing in the 10km was a welcome step into the past.

“I remember back in the day as a younger paddler out of the Mana Club we’d often complete a sprint regatta by jumping in to a 5km – which the coaches always said would act like an additional training session,” he recalls.

2 – Enjoy the change of scene

For Max a big incentive to race on the Wairoa River in Tauranga was to experience a new place to paddle.

“I have many friends in Tauranga but I’ve never paddled there before,” he explains. “It is cool to try somewhere new and have a break from paddling on Lake Karapiro.”

Racing and experiencing a different environment was also a motivating factor for Kurtis’ presence in Tauranga.

“It was awesome to paddle somewhere I’d never been to before,” he explains. “It was a beautiful day and to compete in a new environment definitely makes paddling a bit easier.”

3 – Build race experience

Compared to European paddlers Max admits there are fewer competitive opportunities in New Zealand. So with this in mind, the 2019 World Cup K2 1000m A finalist would encourage young paddlers to engage with the series.

“I often find compared to many of our overseas rivals we do not compete as often, so it is important to take your opportunities when you can to race in New Zealand. I also feel if you can learn to experience hard 10km racing, when you race over 1000m or 500m is not as challenging because you have learned to hurt for longer racing over 10km.”

4 – Go through the mental process

Any opportunity to go through the mental process of racing is of benefit according to Max.

“If you do a hard training session you know it is going to be tough, but you don’t get nervous, like you would for a race, he says. “You want to embrace that feeling of nervousness so when it comes to racing at a national championships, World Championships or Olympics you are more accustomed to those feelings.”

5 – Stay connected with the club scene

The regular K2 crew-mates both enjoyed the experience of returning to their club roots in Tauranga.

“It was nice to compete in Tauranga and have people say how pleased they were that we’d made the effort to compete,” explains Max. “It was also nice to touch base once again with the coaches who had made such an effort into my development as a younger paddler.”

6 – Embrace the competition

For Kurtis – who like Max last competed back in February – the race in Tauranga represented an ideal opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and engage in a hard, tough competitive paddle.

“Coming out of lockdown it feels like I haven’t raced in a while, so it was good to race again and feel the competitive spirit,” he adds. “For all paddlers it is great opportunity – even if it is not your best distance – to measure yourself against your peers.”

Liam leads the way

Liam Lace currently leads the open men’s K1 standings after six rounds of this year’s Kayak Krazy Series. Ahead of the latest round – which takes place on Lake Karapiro on Sunday – we chat to the 20-year-old Cambridge-based athlete about his competitive efforts this winter and his paddling journey so far.

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