14 April the Waterland Marathon was held in Amsterdam, organised by the KV Viking Amsterdam Club of which the great Edwin de Nijs is a member. This competition is included in the ICF World Classic Marathon Series.
On a chilly but sunny day, the channels around the Dutch city were the scene for the high quality race, where some of the greatest marathon paddlers came to fight for one of the first victories of the season.
From the start, the Dutch paddler, Robin Koenders took the lead and set the pace, with a bunch of paddlers on his wash including three world champions - Manuel Busto, Istvan Salga and Jorge Alonso along with the always strong, René Olsen. Finally Koenders, under a great deal of pressure relinquished the lead and two Spaniards joined an elite group of five to keep up the fight - Busto, Alonso, Salga and the Danish Olsen and Nicolai Blach. The last two paddlers fell off the group for a while and paddled behind the others for a few kilometres. René Olsen finally managed to come back while Blach struggled and had to face a solo paddle to the finish line.
Busto boosted his efforts at the last portage and made his rivals suffer. Olsen lost the wash and the top three faced the final sprint with Busto in the lead. He managed to keep this position in a long tough sprint, with Istvan Salga second, and Jorge Alonso third after being pushed out of the wash by Busto and Salga’s impressive strength. Fourth position went to René Olsen, fifth to his compatriot Nicolai Blach and sixth was the first Dutchman, the local Bram Brandjes, who won the sprint in the following group. With this victory, Manuel Busto gets his first 100 points of the season in the ICF World Series and is sharing the lead for the overall standings with Daniel Dal-Bo, winner of the Río Negro Regatta.
In the Women’s race, the Spanish Pilar del Villar maintained a good rhythmic pace along the course and claimed victory being almost two minutes ahead of the Dutch Hedy Pol in second place, and the German Pia Ruhm in third.
The Masters also contested the long course with the seniors and demonstrated the high level of competitiveness that this category shows race after race all around the world and evident at the ICF official championships. The winner was Olaf Heijne, with a magnificent time of 1h 49'16" (12th position overall). Heijne, who two months ago also won the International Regatta of Pas de Calais (FRA), competed over 2.000 and 200 metres, and demonstrates his good performance on every distance.