Kim Chilton – 3 Rivers Marathon

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There are a number of aquatic marathons over the months of August and September, but none as versatile as the The Rydges Port Macquarie 3 Rivers Mini Marathon. Chrissy Jones chats with Kim Chilton about this annual event, set to take place on August 12.


This fun 25 km event, hosted by the Port Macquarie Rowing Club, is not just for rowers, is it Kim?

No, it’s for everyone who has a non-motorised water craft – kayaks, canoes, outriggers, sculls, surf and dragon boats, and even some of the more novel hybrids. In recent years, we’ve even had stand-up paddle-boarders complete it. For those with a competitive bent, the course offers the perfect sprint marathon distance.

For the recreational or family paddler, it offers the opportunity to take in the scenery at leisure, in a safe and picturesque watercourse. For spectators, it’s an opportunity to enjoy riverside entertainment, a BBQ and the mellow Jazz of the Blue Note Ensemble Band, while cheering paddlers over the finish line.

This is its 7th year of operation, and we’ve seen it go from 75 participants to over 220. I’m really delighted to see so many familiar names on the entry lists. People from all over NSW come back year after year to take part. It’s getting the status of a community tradition in Port.

Thanks to the generosity of major event sponsor Rydges Port Macquarie, there will be a pre-race waterfront cocktail party for participants, and a raffle with seven fantastic prizes of luxury accommodation at Rydges Port Macquarie and fine dining at Rydges’ Zebu bar on the Port Macquarie waterfront.

What are the ‘Three Rivers’?

These are the Wilson, Maria and Hastings Rivers. The mini marathon starts in the Wilson River, launching at the Log Wharf at Telegraph Point, below the highway bridge. Participants should arrive around 6.30am on August 12 to register and receive a craft number and their starting time and attend the briefing at 8am.

There will be a series of staggered launches. The course branches right into the Maria River within the first 6 km, where competitors can enjoy the quiet pastoral beauty of the surrounding farmlands, before finally joining the busier Hastings River for the final 4 km. The final leg takes competitors past the Hibbard ferry to the finishing line alongside Port Macquarie Rowing Club. Visit PMRC’s 3 Rivers webpage for links to the startling location, as well as a map of the course.

What type of craft can enter?

Any non-motorised floating craft may enter. In the past, participants’ craft have included sculls, recreational and competitive kayaks, canoes, dragon and surf boats, skiffs, outriggers and even fishing kayaks. It is important that they are sufficiently seaworthy to keep you afloat for the duration of the marathon!

Are there any hazards along the way? What safety controls are in place? 

Yes, there are hazards along the way, but they are well marked and explained in the pre-race briefing. The final stretches of the Maria are peppered with sandbars, which will be demarcated with lines of buoys. Participants should always be on the lookout for water traffic, especially once in the Hastings, and they must observe extreme caution with the ferry – especially if tides and wind are blowing them toward it.

If there have been recent heavy rains, there can sometimes be a lot of debris in the river. We do pre-sweep the course to remove flotsam, but competitors should keep an eye out regardless.

Safety boats, with first aid equipment, will patrol strategic points along the watercourse, and a sweep boat will follow the final participants.

What activities are there for spectators?

Spectators are invited to bring collapsible chairs, relax on the lawns of the Port Macquarie Rowing Club, and listen to the repertoire of the Blue Note Ensemble Jazz Band as they cheer on the finishers. There will be BBQ lunches, drinks and confectionery for sale, as well as a beer tent.

Participants are eligible for a free BBQ lunch as part of their entry fee.

Where and when is the cocktail party?

The pre-event Sun Downer Cocktail Party will be hosted by Rydges Port Macquarie at their waterfront facility on 11 August between 6 and 8pm. All participants, event sponsors and the media are invited.

The cost is $10 per person, which includes a selection of canapés. Drinks are available at happy hour prices.

This is an opportunity to meet paddlers across the spectrum of craft.

Where can raffle tickets be obtained, and what’s to be won?

There are seven fantastic raffle prizes to be won of luxury accommodation at Rydges Port Macquarie and fine dining at Rydges’ Zebu bar on the Port Macquarie waterfront.

Ticket cost is $2 per ticket or 3 tickets for $5.

For further information, visit or contact Brian on 0419 424 805 or Geraldine on 0439 480 834. Alternatively, email Kim at

Thanks Kim.

This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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