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Background Information

Canoe Marathon is a paddling sport in which athletes paddle a kayak or canoe over a long distance to the finish line. The competitors race over a long-distance course on water. They must take the water as it is found and be prepared, if necessary, to carry their boats around an impassable obstacle or between two waterways.

With courses created to be covered in laps with a number of portages (artificial or real), this format has developed to encourage a more spectator-friendly approach to the discipline.

Canoe Marathon is one of the two canoe disciplines featured at The World Games 2022, together with Canoe Polo. The discipline will be represented in two categories, both on kayak, in the Short and Standard Distance.


The athletes arriving in the shortest time at the finish line are declared the winners.

The first finishers in the Short Distance will win the race.

Since athletes start in intervals in the Standard Distance race, the quickest athlete will win the race and not necessarily the first athlete crossing the finish line.


Short Distance

- 20 competitors are split into two groups of ten per heat.

- Five fastest competitors in each heat qualify for the finals.

- Additional five best boats of both races qualify for the final (15 in total).

- The best three paddlers in the Finals will receive the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal.

Standard Distance

- There are no qualifying rounds in standard distance. All competitors race in one event that is considered a final.

- The best three paddlers will receive the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal.


In the Short Distance, all boats line up at the starting line and use a stationary start. In the Standard Distance, athletes start in intervals of 30 seconds. Athletes alternate paddling with their boat on water and portaging their boat on land. 

Short distance will be 3.4 km and will have 2 portages. The distance is composed of two small laps (approx. 1.2 km) including two portages. The last lap is slightly shorter.

Standard distance will be 21 km long and will have 8 portages. The distance is composed of 10 big laps (2 km) including 8 portages (no portages in first two laps), and a small lap (1 km) at the end.

The boats have finished the race when their bows cross the finish line, with the athlete in the boat.


Should an athlete fail to follow the correct course of the race (for example missed a turning buoy) the athlete has broken the racing rules and will be subject to a penalty.

- If the Race Umpire believes the athlete has gained a small advantage on other athletes aTime penalty of 15 seconds will be given.
- If the athlete has gained a major advantage, a disqualification (DSQ) will be imposed.
- Should a buoy be missed as a result of a collision in group racing during a turn, this will be investigated and the boat that caused the collision will be disqualified (DSQ). The athlete who missed the buoy due to collision will not be penalised.
- Any athlete who is considered by a Course Umpire or Race Official to have been responsible for a collision, or who damages the canoe or kayak or paddle of another athlete or unnecessarily deviates from the direct racing line or deliberately blocks the path of an athlete may be penalised or disqualified.
- A collision will be considered to be an event where an athlete’s boat or paddle touches another athlete’s boat or paddle in a way that disadvantages another athlete.
- If it is considered that other paddlers have only had some minor disadvantage compare to other athletes as a result of the incident, the responsible athlete will get a time penalty of 30 seconds.

Athletes and Teams to watch out for

Mads Brandt Pedersen: By complete chance, the arrival of canoe marathon on the World Games programme corresponds with the emergence of a Danish athlete who is revolutionising the way the sport is contested. Mads Brandt Pedersen has emerged as the most powerful canoe marathon paddler of the modern era, repeatedly blowing away quality opposition with a race plan that is in no way sophisticated, but is definitely brutal.

25-year-old Pedersen made International Canoe Federation history in 2019 when he became the first athlete to win an U23 and senior world marathon title at the same event. To put this in perspective, the Dane outmuscled his rivals twice in a 24 hour period in gruelling kayak races each stretching more than 25 kilometres.

He did the same at that year’s European championships.

In Romania last year Pedersen had just the senior race to focus on. Feeling fresh and feisty, he toyed with his opposition for the first three laps of the eight-lap race, before slipping up a gear and blowing a field stacked with former world and European champions out of the water.

Unlike in China in 2019, when Pedersen was considered one of a handful of possible champions, in 2021 he was undoubtedly the man to beat. But if racing with a target on his back was meant to put doubts in his head, he didn’t show it.

“It’s something else when everyone else knows who you are, it’s really tough, But I think it’s amazing as well,” he said after clinching the gold.

“I’ve been training for two years and thinking about taking the title again, so coming here after a year of Corona and being back on the world stage and to take the world championship again, it’s absolutely amazing.

“I wanted to stay at the top and have very good rushes, and I knew for me it would be good to have a very hard race, hard speed all the way, so the race suited me very well.”

Canoe marathon’s most decorated male paddler is South Africa’s Hank McGregor, who won the first of his seven individual world titles aged 25, and his most recent at aged 39.

Spain’s Manuel Busto won the first of his six world titles also at the age of 25, and his final world crown at 34.

Pedersen won his first world crown aged 23. Even with a year lost to Covid, he is on track to join the all-time greats of the sport. But first, he has his sights on becoming the first ever canoe marathon World Games champion.

Appearances in TWG 2013 Yes
Title holders in TWG 2013

Double Men

  1. Team HUN
  2. Team CZE
  3. Team GER

Double Women

  1. Team HUN
  2. Team ITA
  3. Team FRA

Single Men

  2. Alfredo FARIA (POR)
  3. Bartosz DUBIAK (POL)

Single Women

  2. Vanda KISZLI (HUN)
  3. Anna ALBERTI (ITA)
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