A small international entry together with a determination to host the 2017 Canoe Marathon World Championships at Camps Drift to the highest possible standards has forced the organisers of the ICF Marathon World Cup to cancel the event, scheduled for 8 to 10 April this year, and replace it with a Marathon World Championship test event.
The long travel distances involved combined with tough global economic conditions and many international federations prioritising their Olympic disciplines in 2016 led to a very small entry of international paddlers by the closing date for numerical entries for the World Cup.
After consulting with the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Marathon Committee it was agreed to cancel the event as part of the ICF Marathon World Cup circuit, and instead use the solid local interest in the event to stage a “dress rehearsal” event that would test the logistics for the World Championships in September 2017.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to come to the logical conclusion to cancel the event as a World Cup,” said Tim Cornish, who sits on the ICF Marathon Committee and also heads up the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union.
“While the value of the Rand made the trip attractive, and there is always an interest in racing on a course that will be hosting the World Championships, it was simply not viable to stage a World Cup for such a small entry,” he added.
“For some of the Federations there are Marathon athletes who are part of the final stages of trying to qualify places for the Rio Olympic Games, which clashed with our plans to stage a Marathon World Cup at Camps Drift in April.
“The South African Champs in 2015 proved that Camps Drift is an excellent venue for Marathon format racing and we remain committed to hosting a top class World Championships at the venue in 2017,” said Cornish.
Cornish confirmed that the ICF Marathon Committee would continue with its planned meeting in Pietermaritzburg on the original World Cup weekend, and would work together with the local organising committee to stage the test event that would involve all the key structural elements including the full start pontoon and marathon racing buoys and portage layout.
Head of the local organising committee Brett Austen Smith said that cancelling the World Cup was disappointing but that the plans for hosting the 2017 World Championships were still firmly on track.
“Fortunately there will be plenty of opportunity for international paddlers to train and race on the course before the Worlds,” said Austen Smith.
“We will be hosting the test event this April, and next year we will have the KZN champs at the end of May, and the SA Champs on June 10 and 11 where the internationals can race on the course against our top paddlers.”
The 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships take place at Camps Drift from 5 to 10 September 2017.