Hundreds of kayakers to gather in Castlebar for intervarsities hosted by GMIT Mayo

And they're off: The starting line at the long distance race at a previous competition on Lough Lannagh.

And they're off: The starting line at the long distance race at a previous competition on Lough Lannagh.

Hundreds of kayakers from Ireland’s third level colleges are to gather in Mayo from today, Friday February 5, to Sunday February 7 for the 2016 Kayaking Intervarsities, hosted by students and staff on the outdoor education degree programme at GMIT Mayo. More than 500 competitors from 16 colleges will compete in the Kayaking Intervarsities which is one of the largest participation events in third level sport in Ireland. Competitive events will be held in the Castlebar Swimming Pool, Lough Lannagh (Bridge Street at St Gerald's ), the Clydagh River, and some events will also take place on the Clare River in Tuam.

Nigel Jennings, Sports Office, GMIT Mayo, says: “Most people around Castlebar will be familiar with the Clydagh River but how many will know that a rapid on the upper section called The Five Steps - with the optimum rainfall - is one of the toughest white water sections of any river in the country.

“We are looking forward to the competition and encourage members of the public to join in the entertainment on offer over the weekend. We thank Castlebar Municipal District Council for its co-operation in allowing us access facilities to make the event possible, such as the swimming pool, Lough Lannagh, and the car parks, and the setting up of a festival village to cater for the visitors' arrival on Friday evening. An event of this magnitude is a huge undertaking and it would not be possible without the generous support of our main sponsors McHale Caravans, Cabins and Marine, and Lough Lannagh Village.”

He added: “As the adventure tourism industry grows and the use of Lough Lannagh is optimized, it’s great to have an excellent accommodation option right on the campus doorstep with McHale Caravans, Cabins and Marine, and Lough Lannagh Village, a comprehensive equipments supplier in the locality. They are both supporting this national event.

The events kick off today, Friday, with kayak polo taking place all day in Castlebar Swimming Pool, there will also be the slalom competition taking place on Lough Lannagh at the bridge beside St Gerald's College. On Saturday morning the white water event will take place on the Clydagh River, with a freestyle event taking place on the Clare River in Tuam. On Sunday the competition will come to a close with a long distance kayak race starting from Lough Lannagh in Castlebar.

Event organiser and GMIT outdoor education student Ronan O‘Neill says: “Given the right conditions, the Five Steps Rapid on the Clydagh River is one of the most challenging sections you could hope to have. We are very lucky to have such a river on our doorstep and hopefully it will put its best display on for the day as watching the country’s top student paddlers take on this challenge will be a brilliant spectacle.”

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