Blenheim can confidently boast it is the host to New Zealand’s only marathon qualifying flat-water kayak race, outside of the National Championships. Quirkily named the Beavertown Bad Boy, this grueling 32 kilometer race event celebrated its tenth anniversary on Saturday in perfect conditions.
The unique race capitalizes on Blenheim’s Opawa and Wairau Rivers, as well as the historic Roses Overflow, and comprises several portages or land crossings to connect these waterways in a congruous loop.
A strong field of competitors from as far afield as Hawkes Bay fought it out in this veritable highlight of the New Zealand kayak racing calendar which includes K1, Multisport and Team categories. Nothing could stop Wellington’s Glenn Muirhead from taking out the crown of 2011 Beavertown Bad Boy with his sterling K1 performance, finishing the race in 2 hours 26 minutes. James Feathery of Christchurch was two minutes behind Muirhead to take runner-up in the Open Men’s K1 with a time of 2 hours 28 minutes.
It was a double win for Wellington as Marianne Archer, current Female National Marathon Champion, claimed the 2011 Beavertown Bad Girl title in her K1, crossing the finish line with a time of 2 hours 47 minutes. Bianca Teague of Christchurch put in a great effort, coming in at 2 hours 59 minutes for runner-up. Blenheim’s Craig Harper comfortably won the Open Men’s Multisport section with his time of 2 hours 52 minutes.
The Veteran Men’s Multisport champion went to Sean Gidall of Nelson, who persevered to complete the race under the 3 hour mark with a time of 2 hours 59 minutes.
Race organiser Matt Thomson was disappointed he could not compete in the event for the first time since the race began in 2001 due to illness but was extremely happy the way Beavertown Bad Boy went on Saturday. “We had the best conditions we have ever had in the ten years we have been running it. It is an incredible course with so much deep, clear water, and it’s a real bonus to have the loop course that returns competitors to the start/finish in the centre of Blenheim.”
Following Beavertown Bad Boy tradition, prizes from local sponsors’ Kiwi-Oeno Limited and Meater’s of Marlborough were presented to winners and competitors. Quality cuts of meat and bottles of Marlborough wine seem befitting to honour those who successfully completed the event.
Thomson is already thinking about Beavertown Bad Boy 2012, hoping for more local support and greater participation – “it’s a great event for the community as it utilizes Blenheim’s fantastic natural resources, and pays tribute to the important historical significance of these waterways. Beavertown Bad Boy 2012 aims to be the biggest and baddest yet.”
Open Men’s K1
1. Glenn Muirhead, Wellington (2.26.21); 2. James Feathery, Christchurch (2.28.46); 3. William Wilkins, Hawkes Bay (2.34.12); 4. Paul Bourgeois, Blenheim (2.35.32); 5. Glen Richardson, Blenheim (2.44.13)
Open Women’s K1
1. Marianne Archer, Wellington (2.47.37); 2. Bianca Teague, Christchurch (2.59.00)
Open Men’s Multisport
1. Craig Harper, Blenheim (2.52.31)
Open Men’s Multisport Double
1. Mark Bryant and Craig, Nelson (3.04.50)
Veteran Men’s Multisport
1. Sean Gidall, Nelson (2.59.46); 2. Neil Taylor, Port Nelson (3.06.02); 3. Steve Millson, Nelson (3.40.52); 4. Darren Casey, Nelson (3.41.06)
(Thanks to Sophie Parker for the race report and photos)