COLD WEATHER MARATHON PADDLING

The cold and wet conditions that often confront paddlers during winter adds an extra dimension to the challenge of Marathon canoeing/kayaking. Cold conditions can undermine the performance of even the strongest paddlers. Everyone is at risk of hypothermia and exhaustion, however, with training, planning and preparation you can be comfortable, safe and competitive in most adverse conditions.

The RPM events are extremely demanding and medical emergencies may occur. For your safety and wellbeing we ask you to fill out the Confidential Medical Form to enable immediate and appropriate treatment to be given should it be required.

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia is a potentially fatal reduction in the body’s core temperature below 35°C due to a failure of its warming mechanisms to maintain a normal temperature. Victims may show signs of severe shivering, glassy stare, apathy, abnormal or poor coordination and stumbling, slurred speech, irritability and pale, cool skin.

Predisposing factors that contribute to the onset of hypothermia include:

  • Hunger
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Exertion
  • Low body fat
  • Low ambient temperature
  • Wind (high wind chill)
  • Inadequate clothing (ineffective insulation, unprotected head)
  • Wet clothes (rain, immersion, sweat, spray)
  • Alcohol
  • Underlying disease or illness
  • Age < 14 years or > 50 years
  • Injury

Preventing Hypothermia – Planning & Preparation

  1. Know your limitations and those of your paddling partner
    • Have you trained for this distance?
    • Have you trained in these conditions?
    • Have you experienced river paddling?
    • Is your seat comfortable?
  2. Are you prepared to pull out?
    • If you are unwell?
    • If you are unsure of your ability?
    • If you are uncomfortable with your boat?.
  3. Have you “read” the river conditions?
    • Is it likely to be a head wind?
    • Will there be waves you can cope with?
    • Will it rain?
    • Will I cope if I have to paddle alone?
  4. Have you got the right gear?
    • Do you have the appropriate Life Jacket?
    • Will your clothing keep you warm?
    • Will your spray jacket keep you dry and protected from wind?
    • ill your spray deck shed wave wash?
  5. ·Is your boat in good order?
    • Have you checked for leaks lately?
    • Is your floatation adequate?
    • Is your rudder system maintained and working reliably?
  6. Are you in good order?
    • Have you eaten adequately to support the distance and to stay warm?
    • Are you carrying enough of the “energy” liquid and food you have been training on, to sustain you for extended periods of effort in adverse conditions?

Tips for Paddlers

Participants are required to carry food and drink to sustain them during each stage of the event. Have a good breakfast before the beginning of each stage, ideally with foods of low GI (glycemic index) such as oats, cereals, nuts, etc. While paddling, food and drink with high energy are good, such as sugary drinks or energy bars, biscuits etc. Don’t make sudden or radical changes to your regular diet before the race.

Wear your water resistant and windproof paddling jacket if it is windy. If it is cold, wear a hat or a beanie – most of the body’s heat loss radiates from the head. Warm, close fitting thermal layers, ideally made of polypropylene, polyester or wool is best for winter paddling as these fabrics continue to insulate when wet. Avoid cotton clothing for winter paddling.

In addition to Life Jacket, food, drink and paddling attire, paddlers are required to carry the following items in a waterproof container- see “Rules and Conditions”

  • An additional energy snack
  • An extra thermal top layer
  • A windproof/water resistant jacket (if not already wearing)
  • Thermal emergency blanket