Week two of the International Canoe Federation’s virtual 5k Paddle Challenge has already attracted some of the biggest names in world canoeing, as Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted around the globe.

The ICF Paddle Challenge is designed to get people active and to also raise funds and awareness for the work of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Participants are encouraged to register online, where there is an option to donate to MSF.

The first week of the challenge attracted paddlers around the world, in canoes, kayaks, surf skis, creek boats and on stand up paddle boards. Those who were unable to get on the water because of coronavirus restrictions completed the five kilometres indoors on an ergo.

Olympians have joined the challenge in force this week, as local lockdowns are being lifted. Australia’s Alyssa Bull and Alyce Wood and Italy’s Manfredi Rizza have been joined by Olympic gold medalist Tom Leibscher of Germany, silver medalist Maxime Beaumont of France, and potential Tokyo Olympians including Dora Lucz of Hungary, Guillaume Burger of France and Bernadette Wallace of Australia.

The appetite among elite and recreational paddlers around the world to get back on the water is strong, underlined by the turn out for an online SUP challenge organised by Austrian paddler Christian Taucher.

What began five weeks ago as an event just for members of his Austrian club quickly morphed into an international event, attracting more than 250 SUP athletes to the “Corona SUP Time Trial”. After initially setting the challenge at 10 kilometres, several shorter events were also held.

Taucher encouraged all the paddlers who signed up for his challenge, to also join in the international ICF 5k event.

“I was blown away by the number of people who signed up for our event, it was certainly much bigger than I had planned for,” he said.

“This weekend is the final chance for everyone to record their second 10k time, and then I would encourage everyone to turn their attention to the ICF’s 5k challenge. It’s a great opportunity for people all over the world to get active again, and to have a bit of fun.

“Our corona SUP time trial attracted people of all ages and all abilities, and the ICF event is also open to all-comers. And its also raising money and awareness for a really important charity, which is on the front line of fighting coronavirus around the globe.”

The ICF challenge runs weekly, with leaderboards updated online on Monday mornings. All the competition rules can be found here, and the entry form can be found here. More information about the work being carried out by Doctors Without Borders can be found here.