Top European athletes take on the Guadiana Challenge
Portugal is at the forefront of the fastest growing water-sport in the world with a brand new, high profile event designed to test the abilities and stamina of some of Europe’s finest athletes.
On 28th March 2015 a number of professional and amateur stand up paddle boarders will descend 32km of the Guadiana River in a gruelling challenge from Mertola and ending 6-8 hours later in Alcoutim.
For those who haven’t come across this rapidly growing sport before it’s the favourite of many a list celebrities including Portugal’s own Rita Perreira. because of its ability to give a full body workout. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a new peaceful and tranquil way to explore the waterways stand up paddle is a rapidly growing activity.
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has been described as the closest thing to actually walking on water and consists of standing on a large surfboard while using a long paddle to move yourself forward. It needs balance and coordination but it’s much simpler, cheaper and quicker to learn than most other board sports and within 30 minutes most people go from beginner to getting a good session under their belt.
The greatest thing fans love about SUP is that you get your exercise without it ever being boring. Unlike a treadmill session at the gym you are playing in a beautiful aquatic environment, which is constantly changing and where you can see nature from a whole different perspective; it doesn’t ever feel like a chore.
Portugal is already the leading European venue for paddle boarding and has several top professionals who are taking part in the Guadiana challenge in preparation for the world and European race series. This year there will be a total of six domestic races taking place in Portugal in venues including Porto, Peniche, and Lisbon.
The Guadiana challenge is the brainchild of Nick from Algarve SUP who teaches SUP and wanted to raise the profile of the sport and it’s benefits. “The Guadiana Challenge isn’t just a simple float downstream” said Nick “32km is a good distance for the average paddler and those people who are taking part will be facing some serious challenges on their journey”.
In March the odds are that the weather will be unsettled. Should the paddle boarders hit a headwind, their day will turn into a severe battle against the elements.
The effects of the tide are felt as high up as Mertola over 70km upstream from the river mouth and when it turns from low to high, the challengers have to fight a strong water current to just keep moving forward. Combine that with the effects of the wind and you’re facing some seriously challenging conditions.
Who knows what the water levels on the river will be on that particular day. They could be raging high due to rainfall further upstream or if the water is low then the paddlers could be scraping rocks and carrying their boards over dry sections.
Never Give Up
One thing is for sure, this is not a challenge where you can easily give up if it gets difficult. The challenging route between Mertola and Alcoutim is very remote with only two small villages on the Spanish side, Pomarão and Puerto de la Laja. There is no easy way to get off the river or take a taxi back to the car. Sheer grit is the only thing that’ll get the paddlers to the finish line in Alcoutim.
The Guadiana Challenge is not a race, it’s just a fun and challenging event amongst keen paddlers in Portugal and will be excellent preparation for the race season.
It will be an exciting adventure and only one outcome is certain: all the paddlers who get to the finishing line of the Guadiana Challenge will have to overcome some significant barriers to get there.
Algarve SUP www.algarvesup.com is organizing the event with generous support from
Images from a previous paddle down the Guadiana River are available here: www.algarvesup.com/Guadiana-PR.zip
We will issue a follow up press release after the event. Please feel free to contact Nick for any questions:
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