What are the American Canoe Association (ACA) Marathon National Championships & Marathon Team Trials?
The American Canoe Association (ACA) and USA Canoe & Kayak (USACK) joined in 2018. The ACA became the national governing body for Canoe/Kayak in the United States, and as such, will host the annual Marathon National Championships beginning in 2018.
The ACA Marathon National Championships also serves as the annual Marathon Team Trials. This is the assessment race that determines which athletes represent Team USA at the ICF (International Canoe Federation) Marathon World Championships. The top two athletes in each class qualify for the World Championship Team.
What is the International Canoe Federation?
The ICF is an international non-profit organization for multidiscipline canoe & kayak activity, including Flatwater Sprint, Flatwater Marathon, Whitewater Slalom, Para Canoe, Wild Water, Freestyle, Dragon Boat, Canoe Polo and Ocean Racing.
Date and Venue for the 2020 ACA Marathon National Championships & Marathon Trials?
Sugar Land, Texas is the host for this year’s national championships. The venue will be Brooks Lake, located behind the Lake Pointe shopping complex at the intersection of Highway 59 & Highway 6.
The dates are June 27, 2020 for the K1 & C1 (solo) races. Start time TBA.
Brooks Lake in Sugar Land was also the host venue in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.
What designates an ICF Racing Kayak / Canoe?
Racing kayaks & canoes are scaled from 10 to 1, with lower numbers representing a corresponding decrease in stability. A standard sea kayak would rate as a 10. An Olympic flatwater sprint kayak would rate as a 1. Between these extremes are a wide range of developmental boats that are mastered incrementally before progressing to the Level 1 boats used for Olympic Sprint or World Championship Marathon.
An ICF K1 must be 17.2 feet long (5-meters). There is no width restriction, meaning the hull can be as narrow as the athlete can balance. As a practical matter, level 1 ICF K1’s are approximately 12-inches wide at the widest point on the waterline. They are constructed of carbon fiber, Kevlar and/or fiberglass. For ICF Marathon, K1’s are restricted to a minimum of 18 pounds (compared to 26 pounds for Sprint).
For ICF flatwater kayaks, the athletes use carbon fiber doubled bladed paddles from a seated position.
For ICF flatwater canoes, the athletes use carbon fiber single blade paddles from a kneeling position.
How are the Classifications Divided?
- Seniors = ages 23-35. Note that older athletes are allowed to compete in this class, and often do.
Distance per Class for the 2020 Marathon Trials / Championship?
- Seniors kayak men – 8 laps, 7 portages (24 km / 14-miles)
- Seniors kayak women – 7 laps, 6 portages (21 km / 13-miles)
- Seniors canoe men – 7 laps, 6 portages (21 km / 13-miles)
- Under 23 men kayak – 7 laps, 6 portages (21 km / 13-miles)
- Under 23 women kayak – 6 laps, 5 portages (18 km / 11.2-miles)
- U-23 canoe men – 6-laps, 5 portages (18 km / 11.2-miles)
- Masters kayak men – 6-laps, 5 portages (18 km / 11.2-miles)
- Master kayak women - 5 laps, 4 portages (15 km / 9.3 miles)
- Juniors men kayak – 6 laps, 5 portages (18 km / 11.2-miles)
- Juniors kayak women – 5 laps, 4 portages (15 km / 9.3-miles)
- Juniors canoe men – 5 laps, 4 portage (15 km / 9.3-miles)
- Masters Women – 5 laps, 4 portages (15 km / 9.3-miles)
What is "Wash-Riding"?
Wash-riding is to canoe/kayak racing as “drafting” is to bicycle racing. While the concept is analogous, the execution is different. The lead kayak/canoe creates displacement waves that move forward and sideways away from the boat. To ride this combination of waves effectively requires much practice. Since the wave is diagonal, it draws the wash-rider into the boat he/she is drafting. The wash-riding paddler also has to take care not to plant his/her blade into the vortex created by the exiting paddle blade of the paddler being drafted. Studies have shown that drafting on the wings can reduce heart rate by 5% and oxygen consumption by 12%. Drafting in the rear of the diamond saves even more energy, though it requires even more skill to hold that position.
For spectators, watch the dynamics within the packs. Are they working cooperatively together to distance themselves from the rest of the field and/or to beat the time standard before settling matters between themselves? Or are they competing within the pack for optimal position? In canoe/kayak racing, four boats constitutes the ideal group for cooperative racing. When there are five or more boats, watch for more aggressive tactics to burn each other off the wash until the group settles into a more manageable number
Why does the start of the Kayak/Canoe Marathon resemble an Olympic Sprint?
The start of an ICF kayak/canoe marathon is nearly as fast as one would see in an Olympic sprint event. This is necessary in part because the lead boats churn up the water behind them. Thus, the lead athletes benefit from calm water in front of them (assuming good weather), while those behind are forced to paddle through the churned up water behind the leaders. Imagine the front runners in a running marathon on a smooth tartan track, while those behind them have to run on broken asphalt.
Why does the depth matter?
As a general rule, the depth of the water must equal at least half the length of the boat to eliminate the effects of bottom drag (affectionately called “suck water”) which slows any form of displacement hull, and requires more energy to paddle through it. Since Brooks Lake is 10-feet deep, and the ICF K1’s are 17-feet long, bottom drag will not be an issue for this course, except for a shallower section near the back buoy turn at Oyster Creek.
Describe the Portage?
The portage is a 120-meter run with the canoe / kayak that must be executed on each lap of the race following the first lap.
Support crews are allowed at the portage to hand drink bags to the racers as they run by. This is the only place on the course where such assistance is permitted.