Murray Marathon could sink or swim, depending on timing, says MP

NATIONAL Party colleagues Tim McCurdy and Peter Walsh lined up in the Murray Marathon again yesterday, hoping the event remains alive.

Mr McCurdy, the member for Murray Valley, was competing in his fourth marathon and Mr Walsh, Victoria’s agriculture and water minister is a veteran of eight.

Both live on the Murray — at Cobram and Swan Hill respectively — and say they understand the event’s importance.

But Mr McCurdy said changes had to be made and he hoped the marathon could replicate the success of the Great Victorian Bike Ride which is held outside the traditional holiday times.

“This time of the year doesn’t suit everybody,” he said.

“A lot of people do it year after year, but it is about getting new blood.

“There are fears about the weather — in November you would like to think you wouldn’t have them.”

Mr McCurdy and Mr Walsh were among the second wave of competitors to set off from Yarrawonga yesterday.

“Elite athletes always look after themselves over Christmas,” Mr McCurdy said.

“We always have a friendly rivalry with the CWA ladies.

“We just enjoy getting out on the river and getting amongst it.”

Team CWA was lining up for its ninth race with the 10-member team aged 40 to 80.

June Field is the senior member of the line-up, which includes her 78-year-old sister, Adele.

The highlight of their paddling was breaking a record that stood for 10 years before they broke it again.

The team has a giant cup cake on the end of a broom stick to alert its support crew ahead of change-overs.

“It is good fun,” Mrs Field said.

“We practise on the river here, but we didn’t start training this year until early November.

“The heat doesn’t worry us and we don’t like the idea of the race being cancelled because it’s a hot day.

“When we first started, we paddled in 42-degree heat.”

Nathalia’s Graeme Smith set the first paddlers off yesterday at 7am in his role as starter.

He had been race director for two decades and admitted he had misgivings about the change of timing for the event.

“I am not real happy because I am a traditionalist,” he said.

“People are not going to want you to take a month off work before Christmas for the race.

“I can see the advantages, but I am not so sure.”

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