World Masters Games has been a good experience and an international event. All that I was hoping for.
The marathon races had attendees from Canada, USA, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Australia, England, Scotland, Czech Repulic, Bulgaria, and more. Events included Kayak1, Kayak2, Kayak4, High Kneel Canoe1, High Kneel Canoe 2, OC1, Marathon Canoe2, and Marathone Canoe 1, in both men’s and women’s. Competitors ages ranged from 30 into the 70’s. The depth of experience was incredible, and ranged from beginner racers to world class racers still actively paddling and retired. Concurrently running was the Canadian Marathon Canoe Championships. I have never seen such a good showing of marathone canoeists.
The distance course was challenging for some while others had full experience with the situation. The course was on a river and paddlers were having to deal with current and depth fluctuations which all effect boat speed. The current was changing daily because rains, and overflow from an upstream dam, so what was clean water one day could be shallows the next. It was not uncommon to see someone stuck in the shallows. To the experienced marathon canoeists this was a practised event, to the outrigger paddler it was a bit intimidating. For those of us who had little experience with river running we tended to follow the leader and hope they knew what we were doing. I have a greater appreciation for river running and the knowledge needed to create the “best line”.
The sprint events showed even more participation from other countries. The course was well layed out. Events included all of the ICF events and OC1 both in 500 and 1000m. Age categories started at 30 and went on to the 70’s. The races were well run and very punctual.
WMG’s has left some lasting impressions on me. Here, aging, which is happenig to all of us, loses it’s hinderance. Life becomes celebrated. One impression for me was at the medal ceremony for K1 Men’s -70. It was obvious that the fellows knew each other very well. They were from different parts of the world but very connected. Although I don’t know for sure, it is entirely possible that these men have been competing together for their entire paddling careers. For them, at this event, time had stood still. Another was in conversation with Hugh Fisher, Olympic Gold medalist. His comment that he began chuckling to himself in a race just because he felt like a kid again – charging down the river with international competition. Seeing these athletes competing at all ages is truly remarkable and I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to compete in this international experience.