Reading Canoe Club has long been one of the most successful and influential marathon racing clubs in Britain. In 2006 it completed the rare double of winning both the Hasler Trophy and the Spanish House – the two most important prizes for Teams in Marathon Racing.
For most flatwater competitors, their introduction to the sport comes through participation in events organised around the regional Hasler competition. Reading is an active supporter of the Southern Region competition. The Reading Circuits in one of the ten events which comprise the Southern Region championships.
The most famous event in British Marathon racing, recognised as a world class event, is the Devizes Westminster race held every year at Easter. A number of races are organised in preparation for this, which allow competitors to race over parts of the DW course. Reading CC organises two events: Thameside 1 and 2 which form an important part of the winter programme, as well as being part of the build up to the DW. Reading encourages participation in Marathon racing at all levels. At the top end, the club frequently provides members of the BCU’s international teams at World and European level. At the other extreme, the club is strongly supportive of novices and the youngest juniors taking part in Paddlesport, Lightning and Hasler “Fun Race” events. In between the two extremes Reading has paddlers ranked in all nine of the Hasler divisions.
Southern Region Marathon Championship
The basis of all Marathon Racing at Reading CC is participation in the Southern Region Hasler Championship.
In addition to the championship itself, which Reading has won frequently in recent years, the league also grants access to the Hasler Finals – the single most important Team event in GB Marathon Racing. The top four teams in the regional championship qualify for the finals.
Each region organises its own league with considerable variation in timing and number of events. However, the scoring systems and the divisional rankings are consistent across the whole country.
The Finals usually take place in later September / Early October, so the qualifying year starts in September. The Southern Region usually has ten events which are clustered in two groups: five in the early autumn (September – October) and another five in the Summer (May – August). Each team can discard its worst result, i.e. the best nine scores count.
The regional competitions serve not only to qualify clubs for the Finals but also individual paddlers. For an individual to appear in the Hasler Finals, they must be registered to race for a qualifying club and have started in at least three races during the season. The race does not have to be “in region”, i.e. any Hasler races across the whole country counts.
To race in the Finals in K2, any three appearances in K1 or K2 will suffice. To race K1, at least three races must be completed in single seat kayaks. Participation in Canoes (C1 and C2) is possible.
Southern Region Clubs participating in marathon racing:
- Banbury and District – Friendly club serving North Oxfordshire – lots of success recently with younger juniors.
- Basingstoke Canal – Nowhere near Basingstoke! Lovely setting on the Canal near Frimley
- Henley Canoe Club (Eyot) – Just over the bridge from Henley, organise a yearly event. One of the most challenging stretches of the Thames when the wind is in the wrong direction – which it usually is.
- Falcon – A strong club based at Oxford.
- Longridge Canoe Club – Based at the Longridge Activity Centre near Marlow.
- Pangbourne (Adventure Dolphin) – Great site by the bridge to Whitchurch, always competitive in the Southern Region races.
- Southampton – no longer at Woodmill – increasingly competitive in Hasler and Lightning events
- Wokingham – Newest club on the mid Thames.
- Windsor – Near the Leisure Centre.
Marathon Clubs – clubs from other regions that take marathon very seriously:
- Chester spiritual home of Marathon in the North from which Swallows regularly migrate south to take on the rest
- Elmbridge probably the only club that can claim to be more consistently successful than Reading at Marathon racing. Fiefdom of the famous clan Lawler.
- Leighton Buzzard Large club in Eastern Region – very adept at bringing on large numbers of juniors
- Nottingham on the Trent near the football and cricket clubs.
- Richmond Big and enthusiastic club on the Tideway
- Wey Organise a Hare and Hounds series every winter.
- Worcester biggest and best in the West Midlands. On the Severn by the Racecourse.
- Royal Canoe Club