MURRAY Marathon competitors will today paddle for the first time in years the original 96-kilometre stage 2 from Tocumwal to Picnic Point.
Wet weather in recent years has cut car access to the river on the Barmah Forest’s muddy roads, forcing organisers to re-run the opening Yarrawonga to Tocumwal stage on day two.
Race chairman Scott Chapman said it was a positive for all concerned that the famous five-day marathon was being run in its entirety.
“We’re absolutely rapt,” he said.
“People want to do the real race — they don’t want to repeat legs.”
About 500 competitors in 200 boats took to the water at Yarrawonga from 7am to 9.15am on yesterday’s stage one.
Those paddling the full 404-kilometre distance started first, followed by the relay teams.
“A couple of people fell out but, overall, it was a good start,” Chapman said.
“It’s a hot day and everyone is in good spirits.”
The 94 kilometres of yesterday’s stage makes it the second longest of the race after today’s 96 kilometre slog.
The leading paddlers yesterday arrived at Tocumwal at 2.30pm.
Among the first across the line was K2 team, Double Dragon, made up of veterans Jack Ward, 59, and Mick Carroll, 47.
The pair is determined to break the K2 race record which stands at a little more than 29 hours.
Chapman said the older paddlers often proved to be the strongest over the long distance.
Coming in well behind Double Dragon, was the SUP relay team.
SUP stands for stand-up paddlers — a novelty category in the race.
“It’s just like a big surfboard and they stand up and paddle with a big oar,” Chapman said.
“I must admit, they’re doing well but it’s hard to see the appeal.”
Competitors last night camped at the Cobram showgrounds.