Sweden’s largest canoe event – the Dalsland Canoe Marathon – recently celebrated its tenth year, with hundreds of paddlers all keen to complete the 55 km / 34 mile course in the fastest time possible! The annual race, is held on the second weekend of August each year, takes place in Dalsland’s lush, forests and sparkling glacial lakes, with canoeists traversing the four lakes – Laxsjön, Svärdlång, Västra Silen, and Lelång – with water so pure, you can drink it. It is open to all abilities (there’s even a shorter course for kids) and participants celebrate in Swedish style with a crayfish party afterwards.
Among the participants were a number of journalists. Here we catch up with Sian Lewis of Health and Fitness magazine, who, although a complete novice, completed the marathon in just 9 hours and 47 minutes!
How was your first experience of the Dalsland Canoe Marathon+?
At first I found the prospect of doing the race very daunting, as I’ve never attempted anything like it before. I was a complete novice, having only kayaked briefly in the Alps once before. Having done two marathons, I knew I was fit enough, but I also knew my lung capacity wasn’t going to be put to the test, it was my head.
You completed the marathon in an impressive time – did you expect to do so well?
I didn’t have a time in mind as I’ve never attempted this before. I had no idea how long it would take me to row one km let alone 55! Having spoken to a number of people the day before the race I was confident I would finish in less than 10 hours… and I did! I struggled to gauge distance and speed and the rudder on my kayak wasn’t working, so even though I could see the finish line, I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to eventually cross it!
The marathon is aimed at all abilities – how much canoeing experience did you have prior to the marathon?
I was a beginner – and I loved it! It was tiring and my body was drained, but everyone is so enthusiastic and motivating along the route that you forget the pain! As it was my first time in Sweden I really tried to appreciate my surroundings along the route – for me it was a pleasant day of kayaking!
What would you advise those signing up to next year’s event?
Familiarise yourself with your kayak and aim to do a few practice sessions to learn the right technique. Try not to listen to other people’s race tactics, especially when you’re a beginner, just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy it. A pair of rowing gloves would come in useful!
Would you recommend Dalsland lake district as a scenic canoeing spot?
Unfortunately the weather was pretty poor on race day but that didn’t bother me, the scenery was still beautiful and really helped this city girl clear her head!
What else did you enjoy on your trip?
Everyone was very friendly and had a great sense of humour. The locals are passionate about the region and what it has to offer.
Quick Facts about The Dalsland Canoe Marathon+
- This year The Dalsland Canoe Marathon+ celebrates its 10th year anniversary!
- The marathon has increased its competitors from 375 to 700 since 2003
- Half of the competitors are foreign guests!
Next year’s Dalsland Canoe Marathon+ takes place on 9 August 2014. Registration is now open and costs from £50/$85 pp. Visit http://www.vastsverige.com/en/Dalsland-Canoe-Marathon.