This year’s European Marathon Championships took place in Pontevedra, Spain, from 30th June to 3rd July, and Richmond had two paddlers on the GB team of 14 athletes. Freya Peters was competing in her first international marathon race in the Junior Women K2 event having won the only k2 assessment race in Burton paddling with Chelmsford’s Emma Russell. Both of these girls are only 15 years old so would be racing crews up to three years older than them. Lizzie Broughton, now one of the most experienced members of the GB team, raced in her familiar Senior Women K1 and K2 events with long term partner Fay Lamph. The racing was on a tidal river in the Spanish town, so the paddlers had to consider the flow on the river and choose the best line; an unusual change from the regular regatta lakes recent events have been held on. Another change from previous event was the use of an automatic start system where the front of the boats were held in place, similar to sprint races.
Freya raced first on Friday morning, in a field of 12 boats, having a great start and making the front group of four. They managed to stay in the group for the first of six laps, but eventually the fast pace from the older girls in the group meant Freya and Emma were dropped and caught by a chasing pack fighting for sixth position. They remained in this group for the middle part of the race until towards the end when the GB girls found some energy and broke free from the group and secured a sixth position finish. This was a fantastic debut in an international competition and is surely the start of more to come. Freya’s determination and Emma’ strength proved to be a strong pairing over the 19km race.
The Senior Women’s k1 race was on Saturday and Lizzie was entered in a strong field containing current World and European Champions. Lizzie was unlucky to be positioned on the opposite side of the start line from the main contenders, so needed a good start to make the front of the race. A big group formed after the start with Lizzie in
the middle of the washes, at the front were the favourites from Hungary and Czech Republic pushing the speed high. The group eventually split and Lizzie found herself in a pack of three chasing another three in the front. The speed stayed high throughout the race but Lizzie managed to keep enough energy to lead out the sprint to the finish and achieve a 4th position after a 2 hour, 26km race.
The final day of the Championships was for the Senior K2s, with Lizzie and Fay racing first against another very strong field. The familiar Hungarian pair, who are current World Champions, made a break at the first turn leaving the GB girls in a chasing group with the Czech Republic and Italian crews fighting for the remaining medals. This group kept the speed high throughout until the Italian girls began to suffer. Lizzie and Faye raced as hard as they could but were eventually beaten by the Czech boat in the finish sprint, though they were very happy to achieve the only medal for the GB team at this Championships.
The next international marathon event will be the World Championships in Germany from the 16th to 18th September. Another round of selection races will determine the team for this event, but the Richmond girls have put themselves in a good position with these strong results at the Europeans.
Full results available here http://piraguismo.pontevedra.gal/campeonato/resultados/