Hosted by the Marathon Canoe Club of SA for 28 years the Riverland Paddling Marathon (RPM) is not just a marathon it is a festival of paddling marathons with 6 possible events over 3 days on 1 weekend in the chilly month of June each year.
Every June long weekend paddlers from all over the country gather on the Murray River in South Australia’s beautiful Riverland to meet, greet and most importantly to paddle.
The Six events which run consecutively over the weekend include –
- The Murray 200 – a 208 km continuous paddle over 3 days from Berri to Morgan
- The 200 Relay – the same 208 km course from Berri to Morgan but paddled in relay with baton exchanges
- The Murray 100 – a 93km course over 3 days covering sections of the longer Berri to Morgan course
- The Murray 50 – a 49km course over 3 days, sharing day 1 and 3 with the Mini and day 2 with the M100
- Single day paddle – on Sunday of the event weekend, 26km from Devlins Pound to Waikerie
- Mini-marathon – an opportunity to try the event by paddling 11 or 12km on any single day or on multiple days
The RPM is genuinely a fun event with a wide array of craft taking to the river including international craft, recreational boats, sea kayaks, surf skis, outriggers, surf boats and canoes. The emphasis at the RPM at all times is about participation.
The AREG was invited in 2014 by the Marathon Canoe Club of SA to provide the safety radio communications network for this event which spans (as the name suggests) 200km of the River Murray from Berri to Morgan. This network would involve manning 20+ checkpoints along the river over three days as well as the supply and operation of a VHF commercial network to allow us to maintain contact with the on water support boats, the race director and the medic cars (which was done with the support of the Canberra Region Amateur Radio Club (CRARC) who held the required commercial licenses).
Due to the size of the event, AREG partnered with the Riverland Amateur Radio Club, who supplied some of the personel as well as access to their primary 2m repeater system VK5RLD (which covered ~2/3rds of the route).
Many months of planning took place with multiple radio survey trips to the Riverland, repeater installation days, commercial equipment assembly working bees and much behind the scenes plotting and scheming in order to gather together all of the resources to meet the event’s requirements. In the end, everything went smoothly and the organisers were very pleased with our contribution to their event!
The following words from Matt VK5ZM (president that year) summed up AREG”s efforts:
I’d also like to personally thank everyone that came and assisted the AREG through out this event. Without everyone’s support and efforts this event would not have been possible, I can’t thank you all enough for taking small parts of this event and just making them happen.
So here’s a quick 10 second overview of our TEAM success;
- We came, we saw, we communicated
- No paddlers were lost, misplaced or left behind
- No equipment failed
- We had *complete* coverage down the river
- We were able to answer *EVERY* question asked by the Race Director
- Everyone was fed magnificently for the entire event
- We were *very* visible in our Safety Green Shirts !
- We had lots of FUN and enjoyed ourselves !!!
- We made new friends
- We met (if not exceeded) the expectations of the Race Director and RPM committee in our first year
- The Race Director was ultimately happy
I think when Martin the Race Director said during his presentation at the finish in Morgan that “the AREG has lifted the safety of this event to a whole new level” that everyone who was involved with this event (no matter how small) should pat themselves on the back, a job seriously well done !!!