Rules & Safety for the 2022 Virtual Challenge (Revised Aug. 7th 2022)
This is a Virtual Challenge - you will be responsible for your own preparation and Safety.
The 2022 Challenge will operate on the Honour System.
You will be responsible for timing yourselves and completing the route that you have chosen.
You may use a stopwatch, wristwatch with timer, Smart phone - whatever you trust to be accurate.
Strongly Recommended: If you have a GPS-enabled smart watch or mobile phone you may wish to use a tracking App such as Strava (information here) - it's Free.
Please limit start times to 8:00 am through 4:00 pm (3:00 pm for 20 km. paddlers) on October 7th, 8th or 9th.
A special Note to Juniors:
Solo and Tandem Teams for participants under the age of 18 are limited to for Saturday the 8th between Noon and 4:00pm - there will be Safety boats on the water during this period.
They are limited to the 5km distance Classes.
We hope that those of you who can't take part during this time period will be able to talk your family into dusting off the Tandem boat and joining you this year for a fun family Challenge.
Please check the Race Course Map page.
The Start and Finish line is at Kelvin Grove Park and all routes take place on the North Branch of the Muskoka River.
The 5 km race goes downstream to a marker before the Hairpin Bend and returns upstream to Kelvin Grove Park.
The 10 km race turns around on the mark before Santa's Village Park and returns upstream to Kelvin Grove Park.
The 20 km race will consist of paddlers making a double loop of the 10 km route.
In the interests of avoiding collisions between boats meeting each other at the bends please follow these guidelines:
Going upstream - move closer to the river bank but not too close to shallow waters.
Going downstream – stick to the middle of the river ( except as noted above *) or slightly wide. The current is generally strongest in the deeper part of the channel.
There are 2 major areas of concern on the route:
You should be aware of an eddy forming at the foot of the Falls at Kelvin Grove Park near the Start/Finish. There is a safety buoy marking it. Stay Clear! Stay at least 100 metres away from the Falls.
There is a VERY strong eddy (sometimes bordering on whirlpool) at the point where the South Branch joins the North Branch. Stay closer to the shore on your right when paddling downstream and on your left when paddling upstream. Stay away from the dock by the INN!
If you have a crew with you to cheer you on, ask them to do your timing from the Start/Finish line on the dock.
If you are self-timing we suggest that you do a safe countdown to your start:
1/ Press Start on your timing device
2/ Get yourself settled in/on your craft, paddle in hand while you count down.
You should deduct this safety time (whether you settle on a 3 sec. or 10 sec. or whatever you choose) from your finishing time - remember - Honour System.
This will provide a safe start.
As you finish, take care as you press Stop on your device – that's not a fun time to dump.
When you've finished please let a member of the GMPE team know your time and collect your 2022 Medallion.
Canoe, Kayak & SUP Marathon Safety
The route can be a challenging. It is expected that you will be in good physical condition and reasonable health. It is critical that you are competent at paddling and have sufficient resources and experience for self-rescue and first aid.
Seasonal conditions can be unpredictable and can change quickly. You may be exposed to wind, waves, rain, snow (yes - it did happen one year), or cold temperatures. Of course we have experienced some really beautiful Muskoka Fall days too.
The course can be remote in some areas. As this is a Virtual Event you must be prepared to support yourself until emergency response can access your location.
You must carry mandatory equipment (listed below).
In an emergency situation, notifying EMS (911) if necessary will be up to you and your Buddy.
Once again, please remember that you will be responsible for your own safety during this Challenge.
The Buddy System:
As this is a Virtual Challenge, we suggest that participants team up with another Canoe/Kayak/SUP to start the race.
Ideally you will partner up with other participants of similar abilities. Buddy's should keep an eye on each other during the paddle and make sure that they connect at the Finish.
Note: If you have difficulty connecting with a partner please contact us here and we’ll try to help you out.
Mandatory Equipment required per Participant/Team:
A timing device (unless you have crew on land that can time your start and finish)
Map and Course Details (Waterproof map bag suggested)
Cell Phone - fully charged - in a water-tight bag
A buoyant 50 ft. (15 m) heaving line
Bailing device (not required for SUPs)
A sound-signaling device (e.g. whistle)
First Aid Kit including: Closure bandages; Adhesive Tape; Gauze Roll; Blister Pads; Antibiotic Ointment; Antibacterial Towelettes; Tensor Bandage and Scissors.
Required gear per Individual Participant:
A Transport Canada / U.S. Coast Guard approved Life Jacket MUST be worn at all times while on or in the water. Self-inflating PFDs are not permitted*.
A paddle (single blade for Canoes and SUPs; double blade for Kayaks and Pack Boats if preferred)
Minimum 1 L (2 L recommended) of hydration.
If you are starting later in the afternoon, please include a flash light / navigation lights in case you are delayed.
SUP Paddlers - remember your boots - the water is cold in October !
In addition to clothing worn at the start of the race, the following is a good idea for afterwards:
A wind/waterproof jacket and pant set
A dry set of full-length top and bottom clothing
Dry socks and footwear
A hat that provides warmth
Pair of gloves that provide warmth
Note: The wearing of PFDs (life jackets) is mandatory.
As this event takes place after October 1st, Ontario Marathon Canoe Kayak Racing Association says this: “Before May 1 and after October 1 all paddlers in every class must wear a lifejacket or PFD. It is not enough just to have a PFD on-board.”
We are under obligation to enforce this and there will be spotters at random places and times along the routes.
Failure to comply will result in disqualification.
For this race, due to COLD water temperature, inflatable life jackets and belts are not acceptable*.
*Why disallow inflatables? The primary reason for disallowing inflatables is that the Muskoka River is COLD in October. Inflatable life-jackets provide little or no thermal protection. It has been noted that inflatables would not necessarily be inflated by people who fall in but expect to continue to race. Continuing to paddle with an inflated PFD is very awkward, so there is a disincentive to inflate. Also when you deflate them they are no longer valid and legal because the cartridge has been used (unless you insert a spare cartridge).
Race competitors may not use alcohol or any substance that impairs their abilities or functioning before or during the race. Failure to comply will result in disqualification.
The Lady Muskoka is docked in Port Carling this year and it's route will not be a concern for our paddlers.
Participants must be aware of the added risks of extreme weather and take reasonable precautions. The decision that weather conditions are not favourable, when made by a GMPE director, is binding on all participants. Any one going on the water against such decisions does so at his/her own risk and will be disqualified from the Challenge. Paddlers and boats will not go on the water in unsafe currents, high winds, waves or possible thunderstorms. If weather conditions change for the worse during the Challenge, paddlers will stay close to shore and take refuge as soon as possible.
Do not try to outrun a storm. In the event of lightning and thunder, the 30/30** rule will be followed.
Heat and humidity can increase risk of heat stroke, sunburn, dehydration and fatigue.
Cold weather increases risk of hypothermia.
**If you count 30 seconds or fewer between lightning and thunder, go immediately to shore and seek appropriate refuge. Remain at least 30 minutes after the last thunder.
Current and forecast weather conditions for Bracebridge can be seen online here.
Participants must adhere to all Covid-19 Rules in place at the time of the Challenge (for complete Covid-19 information, go to our Safety Page.)
Please remember that Covid-19 Rules may require that team mates in Tandem Classes be members of a family or social bubble. Team mates can be changed before the paddle date if the GMPE is notified by October 6th.
If you have any symptoms indicating that you may have contracted Covid-19 - please stay home - and feel better.
Concussions in canoe/kayak/SUP’s are rare, but can occur while participating in any sport or recreational activity. While there are relatively few reported concussions sustained while marathon canoe racing it’s important to remember that aerobic activity can exacerbate the effects of a concussion. Since the circumstances under which a concussion can be sustained are so varied, it’s important for all GMPE participants to be aware of the signs, symptoms and what to do if a possible concussion occurs.
Learn more at Rowan's Law here.