ONE HUNDRED budding canoeists braved the cold and wet weather to compete in the first ever Barrow Descent on Saturday.
The recent heavy rainfall meant that the race course, which ran from Goresbridge to the finish in St Mullins, was in flood-like conditions - exactly what these kayakers ordered. Along the 23km route paddlers had to negotiate ten weirs as well as countless stretches of turbulent water.
Waterways Ireland, who looks after all of Ireland’s navigable water routes, saw the Barrow Descent as an ideal opportunity to focus the public’s attention on what a great asset Irish rivers are. This view was shared by all the competitors last weekend, who praised the event’s organisation highly and promised to be back with more paddlers in 2012.
This event was organised by the Thomastown Paddlers Canoe Club in conjunction with Kilkenny Civil Defence, Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club, Barrow Valley Canoe Club, irishcanoekayak.com and many other local paddlers who all helped out by providing safety cover at the before mentioned weirs. Thanks went to all the safety cover who ensured that all contestants had a safe day out on the river. The catering crew from Thomastown Paddlers were also commended for ensuring that all race finishers were welcomed with hot soup and sandwiches on completion of the race.
With most members of the Thomastown Paddlers helping out with the race organisation, only two of the club’s racers completed the inaugural race. Both made sure they left their mark on this new event. Martin Walsh and Cáit Broderick had fantastic afternoons on the River Barrow. Martin won the Men’s Wavehopper class in convincing style, following on from his recent second place at the Liffey Descent. Cáit, paddling in the challenging K-Boat field, came third in the mixed junior section.
Elsewhere in the race, Liam McCarthy and Pedro Lopez from Dublin’s Salmon Leap Canoe Club (SLCC) were the first boat to cross the finish line when they won the Senior K2 class in a time of 1 hour 26 minutes. Gary Mawer from SLCC was the winner in the Senior K1 category, while other local medal winners were Ken Boland from Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club (KACC) who was second in the Veteran K1 and Phil Brett and Liam Cassin (KACC) who were also second in the Canadian group.