Story & photos Eve Jeffery
To the delight of organisers, record numbers flocked to the third annual Mullum2Bruns Paddle on Sunday with close to 800 participants taking to the water, about 130 up on last year.
In a day that started out with clear sunny skies, serious paddlers as well as funsters, families and even a few dogs headed out from Heritage Park at Mullumbimby. The paddle is a fundraiser for Brunswick Volunteer Marine Rescue, Brunswick Surf Lifesaving Club and the Brunswick Heads Visitor Centre and is sponsored by The Echo.
Some of the paddle divisions – including the Open Paddle Challenge, the Stand Up Paddle Challenge and surf boats – took off from Mullumbimby at 9.30am.
The Board Challenge headed out from Torakina beach in Brunswick Heads but this year’s elite event the Paddle2Fitness Extreme Challenge – a 20km round trip – started at the Terrace Park in Brunswick Heads and finished in front of the Sound Shell in Bruns after a trip upstream to Mullum.
Though the rain and clouds fell over the event mid-morning, the river still had plenty of smiling folk who were enjoying the views and the company on the run downstream.
Tim Stellake put in a mammoth effort over the event with a win in the Men’s Open Paddle and then, with not much of a rest after the 10km run, turned around for a second place in the 20km Extreme race. Tim was not far off the win with less than a few seconds between him and the winner Brad Restall, who clocked up a mere 1:17 for the race.
Event coordinator Penny Fuller said that it had been a very busy morning and that there were many return paddlers in 2012; a large contingent of the 250 who pre-registered has said they had previously entered the Brunswick River paddle. She says that the committee will look forward to next year’s event to be held on the fourth Sunday of May 2013.