Shire canoe club face a very Hawkesbury Halloween

Big day: Sutherland Shire Canoe Club members. Picture: SuppliedWhile you and your kids are out trick-or-treating this weekend, some of theShire’s fittest and fastest will be spending their Saturday night in a very differentway.
Nanjing Night Net

Around 14 members of the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club have entered theannual Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, a 111km overnight paddle that raises fundsfor the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation.

The Classic, now in its 40thyear, starts at Windsor and ends at Mooney MooneyBridge at Brooklyn, on the Hawkesbury River.

The paddlers will leave Windsor in groups between 3pm and 5pm on Saturdayafternoon, with the fastest taking around 8.5 hours to do the route, arriving inBrooklyn at around 2am. The average paddler will take 13 hours while theslowest will take 16-19 hours – and probably get to see the sun rise.

“A few of our paddlers – and about two-thirds of the entire field – have enteredwhat’s called ‘Brooklyn or Bust’ which is simply focused on finishing the eventrather than racing,” club presidentSteve Dawson said.

“The rest are racing classes divided by boat type, age, and gender. Personally I’drather finish fast because sitting for longer in a boat is physically worse thanworking harder.”

Among the club members hopeful of good results are Dawson and his wife,Kate, who are record holders from previous years, as well as fellow husband andwife team, Ross and Robyn Bingle. Other hot tips are Bob Turner and JasonCooper paddling together, and Kristy Benjamin.

Steve and Ross covered the distance last year in less than nine hours (8h:46m).Bob and Kristy have also posted sub-ninehour paddles previously. Others whohave competed before but not this year will be at the river as support crew.

All the club members who have entered have been training hard. Most haveclocked up 40-50km each weekend; the Dawsons have been doing 60-80km.

Many have been cross-training too, either running or cycling.While it might seem a punishing way to spend a weekend, Mr Dawson saidfinishing the 111km race comes with a real sense of achievement – and more.

“The event has a great atmosphere. Everybody encourages others as they passin the night. In last year’s race, where Ross and I were racing for a podiumposition, we were paddling alongside the other leaders, chatting and swappingstories for almost the entire race,” he said.

“When we came across a paddler in difficultly, all the lead boats stopped tocheck they were okay, even though we didn’t need to. When we knew they werealright, we all went off again together.

“The chatter stopped in the final two kilometres as everyone got down tobusiness. We finished third, two seconds behind the boat that came second.

“There are tough times, because it is such hard work. Between 40km and 60km isthe worst, while the final 30km is almost a relief. Crossing the line is ecstasy.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the cause can do so via the club’sEveryday Hero account.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.