This past weekend’s Canoe/Kayak Canoe Marathon National Championships on the Oklahoma River also was a trial run for the world championships that will be held in the Boathouse District Sept. 26-28.
It will be the first time that the International Canoe Federation will hold its Canoe Marathon World Championships in the United States.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Oklahoma City paddler Kaitlyn McElroy, who on Sunday qualified with partner Maggie Hogan of Oklahoma City for their third consecutive world championships in marathon racing.
“There are a lot of people excited to come over to the United States and have that chance to race here,” McElroy said.
The last two World Championships have been held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rome, Italy. On the international stage, countries such as Spain and South Africa excel in marathon racing.
“The South Africans have an amazing presence in these types of races and so do the Spanish,” Hogan said. “The fitness level you will see at the World Championships is unbelievable. It’s unreal how fast they can run with the boats.”
That’s important because portaging is part of the rules of marathon racing. The marathon racers must dock after completing laps on the Oklahoma River and then sprint to a launching point, carrying their boat and paddles in hand.
McElroy said at the world championships in Rome, spectators would cheer the competitors during the portage as they raced by, much like fans do at a football game in the United States.
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