Seventeen-year-old Alec Myles won silver at the 2017 Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships representing Trois-Rivières. Next week, he represents Canada and B.C. at the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in South Africa, which take place September 7 to 10 in Pietermaritzburg.
The annual event features long-distance paddling combined with portage in both canoe and kayak. And while his medal winning race at the sprint championships lasted about 36 seconds, the marathon will take between 85 and 95 minutes.
Myles, who considers himself mainly a sprint paddler, began marathon racing two years ago. At the world championships, he will compete in the Junior Men’s K-1 21km race. He’s registered with the Nanaimo Canoe & Kayak Club and representing B.C. as there is no provincial marathon association in Quebec.
As both a sprint and marathon paddler, Myles truly enjoys the sport.
“The part I like the most about the competition or even the sport in general is the fact that your success depends only on yourself,” said Myles. “So, no matter what the conditions or what the other competitors do, at the end it will all come down to you.”
Yet, he also notes a significant difference between sprint and marathon racing.
“The main difference with marathon is the mass start and the possibility you have to ride wash with other competitors,” said Myles. “It brings a tactical element of the race that you don’t necessary find in sprint.”
Preparing for two championships so close together means a heavy training load. Myles’s typical training day includes a morning paddle, followed by a run or weight lifting and then a second paddling session in the afternoon.
“My marathon paddling helps me for my sprint,” said Myles. “Marathon helps me to add more volume to my daily training and it also helps me to see the sprint distance from another angle.”
These world championships are Myles’s first international experience and he has set modest goals.
“My goal will be more to do the best race possible and acquire the most international race experience,” said Myles.
Alec Myles races on Thursday, September 7. See the event website for more details.