Barron River Challenge – Post Race Report

The BRC titles of ‘Barron and Barroness’ head interstate for fourth year in a row with Canberra paddling partners Craig Elliott and Laura Lee extending their overnight lead to finish at Kuranda Beach in a time of 3 hours 37 minutes and 8 seconds, 1 minute and 13 seconds outside of the race record set in 2019 by Local paddler John van Ryt and Steve Jenje.

In our inaugural race in 2011, two local paddlers battled it out on the original 52 km continuous paddle course. John van Ryt narrowly nudged out Struan Lamont to be named our inaugural “Barron”. 13 years later and history repeated itself with John paddling into second place under a minute in front of Struan. In fourth place was last year’s female BRC20 winner Nicky Donaldson who was guided by paddling partner Geoff Pearce who also notched up his 10th BRC50 this year.

In the BRC20 held on Saturday, local Robbie Miller finally stepped onto the top rung of the podium with a second best Long Plastic time of 1 hour 43 minutes and 31 seconds. In second place was Atherton local Tony Marnane in 1 hour 44 minutes and 48 seconds. Our most experienced paddler at 73 years of age Steven McLay, paddled into third place with a time of 1 hour 45 minutes and 45 seconds for the 22 km section of the Barron River.

First Female was Jane Gunton who paddled with her son Levi Gunton who also became the Junior Male winner with a time seconds under 2 hours and 4 minutes. Cordula Kath collected second place with her personal best paddle in 2 hours 7 minutes and 23 seconds. In third place was Leith Hawke who paddled with her niece Shiloh Gunton. Shiloh became the Junior female winner with a time of 2 hours and 9 minutes and 32 seconds.

Conditions this year were testing for even the elite paddlers. In the wake of Jasper, the river banks softened and many large trees choked the river course following two further rain events. Whilst enjoying the greatest river volumes in our 14year race history, paddlers had to slalom around and under many obstacles, an exhilarating experience. Those who swam the least produced personal record times.

The Barron River Challenge is run on the last weekend in May each year down the Barron River from the John Doyle bridge to Kuranda beach via Bilwon. Pencil in May 24/25 2025 for our 15th BRC50.

Come and try paddling days and training sessions are conducted on flatwater on Tinaroo Dam and in moving water on the Barron river in the Mareeba area throughout the year.

Further information and Full race Split times: search Tinaroo Canoe Club or the Barron River Challenge BRC50 on Facebook.

Winners BRC50 Craig Elliott and Laura Lee on High Rocks Rapid – Day 1

Winners BRC20 Jane Gunton and Robert Miller

Junior Winner Shiloh Gunton with Aunty Leith Hawke

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