Kaitlyn McElroy grew up as a cross country skier in Maine. Maggie Hogan grew up surfing and sailing in San Diego.
Both eventually discovered paddling was their sport and moved to Oklahoma City to train in the Boathouse District. They have been partners in a boat for two years, competing in 11 international events, and on Sunday they will try to qualify for their third consecutive World Championships in marathon racing.
The USA Canoe/Kayak Canoe Marathon National Championships conclude Sunday on the Oklahoma River. If their times are fast enough, the top two individuals or two-person crews in each race earn the right to represent the United States at the International Canoe Federation’s World Championships, which will be held in Oklahoma City Sept. 26-28.
McElroy and Hogan focus mostly on sprint racing, but the last two years they have also represented the United States in marathon racing at world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark and Rome, Italy.
The pair finished in the top 10 in the world championships two years ago. Hogan said the two athletes from opposite coasts have been able to successfully compete as a team faster than most paddling partners.
“We just kind of clicked off the bat,” Hogan said. “We kind of come at it from different angles but in the boat it works out pretty well. We each have opposite strengths,” Hogan said. “I can pull us the last 100 meters and she gets us off (fast) the first 100 meters.”
Their journeys to Oklahoma City also came from different angles. In Maine, McElroy started marathon canoeing as cross training for cross country skiing.
She discovered it was a lot of fun and began competing in races of distances from 70-130 miles. In 2008, she switched her focus to kayaking after a training accident prevented her from skiing at an elite level.
Growing up in San Diego, Hogan was an all-around athlete in ocean sports. A former collegiate swimmer for the University of California Santa Barbara, Hogan discovered kayaking while attending the San Diego Life Saving Academy where she learned to surf ski and was a nine-time champion in surf life saving.