The two powerhouses of men’s marathon paddling are set to lock horns again this weekend as Vejen in Denmark prepares to host the 2023 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships.

South Africa’s Andy Birkett, the reigning world champion and inaugural World Games gold medalist, will once again face a tough challenge from Denmark’s Mads Pedersen, who is desperate to regain in front of his home crowd the title he held in 2021 and 2019.

Portugal’s reigning marathon silver medalist, Jose Ramalho, will once again pose a serious threat to both Birkett and Pedersen.

In the women’s K1 Hungarian Vanda Kiszli, the most outstanding marathon paddler of the modern generation, will be aiming for a fifth consecutive world title. Kiszli has not been beaten over the longer distance at a world championships since 2018, and was also the inaugural gold medalist at last year’s The World Games.

Sweden’s Melina Andersson looms as the major threat to Kiszli, having finished second last year and coming off a strong canoe sprint season. Fellow Hungarian, Zsofia Czellai-Voros, was second behind Kiszli in 2019 and again in 2021 and will be hoping to return to the podium in Vejen.

South Africa’s Christie MacKenzie and Nicole Birkett, Spain’s Eva Barrios, Ireland’s Jennifer Egan-Simmons and Serbia’s Kristina Bedec will all make this week’s race one of the most even contests for several years.

The men’s C1 race is wide open, with all three medalists from last year back in action. Spain’s Manual Garrido and Manuel Campos, gold and bronze medalists from 2022, and Hungary’s Marton Kover, silver medalist for two years running, are among a star-studded entry list.

Ukraine’s Denys Davydov, bronze medalist in 2021, will challenge for the medals.

In the women’s C1 Ukraine’s Liudmyla Babak will be aiming for an incredible sixth straight world title. Babak has been at the top of the tree since claiming her first world title in 2017. Babak will also be looking to win back her short distance crown after losing to Great Britain’s Bethany Gill last year.

In men’s K2 all the medalists from the 2022 world championships are back. Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta, fresh from taking the K1 1000 sprint world crown, will be looking to defend his K2 title with Jose Ramalho, while reigning silver medalists Miguel Llorens and Alberto Plaza from Spain, and Norwegian brothers Eivind and Amund Void back to fight for the podium again.

Frenchmen Quentin Urban and Jeremy Candy, gold medalists in 2019 and 2021, are back to once again fight for a podium, while Olympic gold medalist and wildwater champion Max Hoff has joined with Andreas Heilinger to represent Germany.

In women’s K2, Spain’s Tania Fernandez and Tania Alvarez will defend their title, with Hungary’s Kiszli and Emese Kohalmi among the main challengers. Kiszli won her only K2 title back in 2017. Other strong challengers include South Africa’s Saskia Hockly and Michelle Burn.

In short-distance races, Pimenta and Pedersen will once again lock horns after an epic battle in Portugal last year. On that occasion Pimenta came out on top, but Pedersen has triumphed in 5000 metre races this year, including last weekend’s world championship final.

Spain’s Ivan Alonso, last year’s bronze medalist, Hungary’s Balint Noe, and Norway’s Vold brothers will all be fighting for the medals.

In the women’s sprint, Sweden’s Melina Andersson will be defending her title, but can expect a strong challenge from Kiszli, looking to regain the crown she won in 2019 and 2021. Another Hungarian, Emese Kohalmi, former Hungarian Sara Mihalik, now paddling for Finland, Norway’s Anna Sletsjoee, and Eva Barrios from Spain are all strong 3400 metre paddlers.

The 2023 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships begin in Vejen on Thursday and run through until Sunday.

More informarion can be found on our event website.

Canoe Marathon