SUP racing has exploded, with new formats and races being announced each year, and out of this SUP endurance racing has emerged. UK SUP a non-profit organisation has seized this desire to race at longer distances, and has developed 3 events spread over the race season. Race suprimo and co-founder of UK SUP National Endurance Series Joanne Hamilton-Vale (along with Peter Vale) introduces the 2018 series, and why paddlers should be pushing themselves in the 3 events of the UK SUP national endurance series.
Hello Joanne, Can you give a brief history of the UK SUP endurance race series?
UK SUP was set up 5 years ago to bring structured SUP racing to the UK. The UK SUP series has consistency in rules, prize money, low entry fees, disciplines and age groups, It is run 100% voluntary and not for profit – I even have to pay for my own race entry!
After 3 successful years running a national short distance series UK SUP, we found that while we were introducing new paddlers to the sport we were beginning to lose some of the more established racers. I understood this as I found the short race distances of 16km did not push me enough or satisfying my desire for bigger goals. After thinking about what would fill this gap and challenge paddlers I conceived, set-up, and with the help of Pete Vale, developed the UK SUP National Endurance Series.
What’s new for 2018?
With the introduction of the UK SUP National Endurance Series we decided to bring in a few changes in the format, we opened the each race to every kind of solo paddle craft (K1, OC1, C1). This evolved after being told by a few paddlers, that some UK sit down endurance paddle events did not welcome or allow the registration of SUP racers, so we realised that there was a market for a multi-paddle sports event, each with their own podium. We are, after all, one big paddle family.
What is the endurance race format?
In 2017 UK SUP held 3 endurance races Norfolk broads, River Thames and The Great Glen Way, and will be holding the same events in 2018.
Can you talk us through each race?
Norfolk Broads – The first race is a 2 day 70km race on the Norfolk Broads on 9th and 10th June, this is a super fun race and one that requires you to follow a map, as we take you in and out of rivers and estuaries. The course has minimal flow and a lot of shelter from any wind.
Both days run in a loop format, which is wonderful, as you are constantly meeting up with other paddlers in the Challenge and it is always awesome to hear the support between paddlers. The registration point is also the same as the finish point for day one and the start/finish point of day two, as well as the camp site. This makes it logistically easy for all paddlers and support. At the end of day 1 all paddlers have the option to eat dinner together, and which is included in the entry fee!
River Thames – Our second race is a 52km race on the River Thames on the 24th June, this is a downstream race taking you through beautiful Villages and Towns of rural England including the Royal Town of Windsor, past Windsor Castle. Will the Queen be home and watching you race? It is a 52km stretch of water with ever changing scenery, that will keep you entertained and not focusing on every paddle stroke. The route does have some portages, which will require you to leave the water and walk your craft for a short distance. This will enable you to get the blood flowing back in your feet and is also the perfect opportunity to eat. Note that we do allow assistance to paddlers with their craft at the portages.
Great Glen Way Race – Our third race is the BIG one, race 92km across the whole of Scotland on the 15th and 16th September, we run this either non stop or 2 day format. The scenery in this race is absolutely breath taking, as it takes you through Loch Oich, Loch Lochie and the mighty Loch Ness. Will anyone meet the Loch Ness monster? In addition to these 3 Lochs you will navigate the Caledonian Canal. This race will be a downwind race, we will confirm the direction we will run 48 hours before the race. The briefing and registration point is halfway along the route at Fort Augustus, therefore easy to get to either start point. The huge size of the Lochs (especially Loch Ness) means sometimes they can resemble ocean conditions; UK paddlers have previously had their best downwind experience during this event.
Our prize giving after the Great Glen is a night to remember, a traditional Scottish party. Wear some tartan for your free shot of single malt whisky to toast the Year.
Are the races open for all?
In ultra endurance it is difficult to incorporate racing for children but we are trying to come up with a plan. However, if you do have anyone under the age of 16 who would like to paddle all or part of the route as a Team or Relay, we require an adult/s to always paddle with them and be responsible for their safety. Regardless of how many children or adults paddle in the Team there will only be one entry fee.
Any words of motivation?
We think of these events as challenges, whether you finish or not, you should be extremely proud you put yourself on the start line of an endurance race. Though I am pretty sure everyone will finish and will be wearing their medal at the end of the race.
In addition to race craft podiums we will also be running age group podiums. This keeps everyone pushing and develops individual races within our challenge.
How do we register?
Here are the race registration details, just follow the links!
Norfolk Broads Ultra 9th and 10th June (2 day) – 12 places remaining
Entry fee £75, includes food and water at checkpoints throughout the day and dinner on the Saturday night – every finisher receives a completion medal https://www.facebook.com/events/367649987008476/
Thames Ultra, 24th June (1 day) – 28 places remaining
Entry fee £40, includes food and water at checkpoints throughout the day and food and soft drinks at end of race – every finisher receives a completion medal https://www.facebook.com/events/2029028510460641/
Great Glen Ultra 15th and 16th September (2 day or non stop) – 10 places remaining
Entry fee £75, includes food and water at checkpoints. Every finisher receives a completion medal