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Oklahoma River First in Nation to Host Canoe Marathon World Championships
The Oklahoma River will host the 2014 Canoe Marathon World Championships, the International Canoe Federation (IFC) announced, which will make it the first to be held in the U.S. and the first world championship of any kind to be held on the Oklahoma River. “This event is a favorite with spectators in Europe because you can see the action right in front of you as the paddlers lap the race course and hop out to portage their boats,” said Mike Knopp, Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation executive director and head coach of the Oklahoma City University rowing team. “To have an event coming to Oklahoma City that will be hosted in Rome and Copenhagen in the years leading up to the Oklahoma River race truly underscores the remarkable success we are having with the development of the Oklahoma River. And it’s exciting for us to be able to bring a race that’s so popular in Europe and introduce it to a new audience here in America.” Cities around the world vie for the event through a competitive process. It has been awarded to Rome in 2012 and Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2013. Canoe marathon is a flat-water, long-distance race that includes portions of the race where athletes carry, or “portage,” their kayaks over land. The race is 20 kilometers for men and 15 kilometers for women with athletes making several laps on a course to cover the distance. Canoe Marathon World Championships are held annually with athletes competing in four age categories. The 2014 event will take place Sept. 26-28 on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City. "Hosting the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championship in Oklahoma City is a great honor,” said Shaun Caven, head coach of the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center and OCU canoe/kayak teams. “This will be the first time the event will be held in the USA, proving that the vision of the city leaders has been correct – build it and they will come.” Approximately 300 athletes will travel from around the world to Oklahoma City to compete at the event, bringing with them their coaches and families for the four-day event. The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation submitted a bid in March on behalf of the city for the event. Knopp traveled to Budapest, Hungary, in April to present the city’s bid to the ICF board of directors. Jorn Cronbereg, the Danish chairman of the ICF Marathon Canoe Committee, and ICF official Rutgerus Pieter Heijselaar toured the Boathouse District venue and race course in May, after which they recommended the ICF Marathon Committee award the 2014 event to Oklahoma City. “We are thrilled that the Canoe Marathon Committee will get to experience the best paddle sports has to offer through Oklahoma City,” said Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak executive director. “USA Canoe/Kayak always looks to Oklahoma City to raise the standard of competitive paddle sports. Now the international paddling community will get to experience why this city is our paddle sports capital of the USA.”