Ralph racks up seven

Ralph racks up seven

VETERAN Ocean Grove based paddler Ralph Wright admits he has seen a lot of change since he competed at his first Murray Marathon event in 1985.
Wright, 48, has been involved in seven Murray Marathon events in 1985, 1986, 1987, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013 in his roles as a competitor and a support crew member.
The 45th YMCA Murray Marathon which has been operating since 1969, is an annual post-Christmas tradition much like the Boxing Day cricket test in Melbourne and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
These days, Wright said the popular kayaking event now focused on team relays rather than the individual gruelling 404km five-day stretch from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill on the Murray River.
“The last time I was involved (before 2008) was in 1987 and there was big team from the Ocean Grove SLSC went and I was part of the support crew helping them,” said Wright, who has been kayaking for 28 years.
“The biggest difference with the age groups was that everybody that was in it paddled the whole 404 kilometres.”
“By 2012, it is largely a lot of relays and school teams, they have probably got the bulk of the field.
“That’s the main change and the logistical side has become a lot smoother with the three camp sites rather than the five or six camp sites.
“It has got a lot of heritage the event it has been going 45 years and a lot of the people have been long-term participants.”
Wright, a school teacher who teamed up with paddling partner Sue Clough, an Ocean Grove local, won the TK2 Mixed Open Half Marathon in December on the Murray River.
“We paddled for four days out of the five days and roughly paddled 130 kilometres,” Wright said.
Wright, who is good friends with well-known local paddler Dave Renton, said preparation for the five-day event consisted training locally at Blue Water Lakes in Ocean Grove.
December was a busy month for Wright after he was part of an Ocean Grove team that participated in the Anaconda Adventure Race in Lorne.
Clough’s father Noel won a gold medal at the 1966 Commonwealth Games at Kingston, Jamaica.
He claimed victory in the 800 metres running event.
Noel and wife Janet helped daughter Sue and Wright as support crew during last month’s Murray Marathon.
The Murray Marathon will shift to a late-November timeslot in 2014 instead of its usual post-Christmas schedule.

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