The STIHL Umkomaas Marathon 2020, happening on the 28th & 29th March, will be targeting both novice and international paddlers, who will tackle the Umkomaas River for a unique paddling experience.
We are loving all the excitement around paddling and with very few paddlers reporting the dreaded ‘Dusi guts’ it is time to grab your big water boat and start making plans.
This year the organisers have introduced two variations in order to make it more accessible to new Umko paddlers. We pick it up from the organisers themselves. The race has a proud tradition and history amongst the paddling community, but is now shaping itself on a more “user-friendly” model to allow novices, juniors and female paddlers to feel safe and comfortable on the river. There is an option to start the second day from below Rapid No.8, which is opens the race to all A grade paddlers including under 16’s. Doing so leaves out No.1 to No.8 which is the challenging A+ rated section of the race. This is an opportunity to experience the race and river and then step it up the following year to the full experience. Paddlers taking advantage of this option are still credited with an official Umko finish. Paddlers are welcome to make this decision on race day, based on the water level.
What this means in paddler English:
Day 1: Josephine’s Bridge to Riverside – 35km. This is the easier of the two days.
Start time: 08h00 Reverse order start
Option1: Hella Hella to Josephine’s Bridge – 32km. This can be daunting as the first half of the river is usually reserved for white water rafting. But there will be marshals along the way and we are sure that the seasoned paddlers will be more than happy to let you follow them through the right lines so it will be a phenomenal learning experience. We pretty much guarantee your paddling will never be the same once you have done this stretch in a K2.
Start time: 07h00 Reverse order start
Option 2: There will be a Batch starting below No.8 on Day 2 for those who are new to the Umko, or not wanting to take on the bigger No.1 to No.8 rapids. This effectively opens the race for any A rated paddler, and is meant as a gateway to doing the full race in the future. Anyone doing this will be credited with an Umko finish, but will not be eligible for the racing prizes. U16 entries will be accepted for this Batch. The good news is that you only have to decide on Sunday morning so paddle Saturday first and see how it goes.
Option 3: Ditch the kayak and go down and watch paddlers take on 1 – 8. It will be AMAZING!! That way you will see how the big water paddlers use different paddle strokes to line up their canoes before entering a rapid and change direction in a rapid. You will watch the difference it makes to paddle through a rapid and you get to join in the gees on the banks. You will love the experience.
Want to be inspired? (and forewarned 😉 ) check out the amazing videos and river reviews done by the guys at My River by clicking HERE:
WHAT YOU NEED:
An entry before the 20 March 2020.
Helmets and PFD’s compulsory. All safety equipment to comply with CSA specifications
- Helmets must have the following characteristics;
- – Must fit securely on the head without moving.
- – Must have a chinstrap.
- – Must protect the forehead, temples and back of head.
- – Foam must line the inside of the helmet.
- – The harness must be strong.
- – The helmet must be made of polypropylene or polyethylene, or suitable material.
- – Holes may be moulded into the helmet for ventilation.
** CSA Handbook so bicycle helmets are out.
Please note all paddler’s to be 16 on day of race if doing the full course, no exceptions made.
Senior Entry (Paddler Portal only!) R930
Junior Entry (Paddler Portal only!) R610
Late Entry fee R200
Normal entries close on the 20th of March 2020. A late entry fee applies after this date. Towels are not guaranteed for late entrants.
Overnight Camp at Hella Hella
The traditional overnight camp will be held at Hella-Hella for those paddler’s wanting to enjoy the true spirit of the Umkomaas Canoe Marathon. Accommodation in the form of three dormitories housing 100 beds is available. They are also allowing private camping. There are a number of options available for those wanting to spend Saturday night at Hella Hella.
This race is a MUST as it is a great way to finish off the summer River Season, The water is clean as there are very few people living in the Umko valley so so what if you swallow a few drops as you go through a rapid. Plus the vibe is amazing, the war stories are real and the people are what make the paddling community so special.