Marathon Kayak/Canoe Racing is an exciting kayaking competition with a world-wide following. Marathon races can be on lakes or rivers, open sea and even wild water. It's a true endurance sport for all ages, and long-distance racing at its best, with races from 10 kilometers all the way up to ultra marathons, using various types of water, and can include portages (carrying the craft for a short distance). Portages usually over about 100 to 500 meters, although sometimes up to a kilometer. Competitors often carry water or a suitable hydration fluid to drink during the race, which can be up to 6 or 7 hours, but usually about 1 to 4 hours. Under ICF rules, the minimum distances for international races are 20 km for men, and 15 km for women. The races may be divided in several parts and/or several days. World Cup and World Championship races normally are about 35 to 40 km long.
Canoes and kayaks used in ICF marathon races must meet the same dimension specs as flatwater sprint boats, but the minimum weights are lower. The marathon models are the same as the sprint models but the constructions are different in order to meet the rigorous demands of marathon racing.
As there are no maximum distances, marathon racing has its extremes, such as the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic in New South Wales, Australia, Devizes to Westminster Marathon in England (125 miles, i.e. about 200 km), the Tour de Gudenå in Denmark (120 km), the Texas Water Safari (262 mi), the Missouri River 340 (nonstop 340 miles), the Weyerhaeuser Au Sable River Canoe Marathon (nonstop 120 miles), the Berg River Canoe Marathon in South Africa (248 km), the YMCA (formerly Red Cross) Murray Marathon, 404 km down the Murray River in Australia, the longest annual canoe and kayak race, the Yukon River Quest (742 km), and the longest canoe and kayak race, the Yukon 1000 (1000 miles, 1600 km) on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to the last road access point on the river in Alaska.