Marathon racing is the most popular discipline in South African canoeing, and a vibrant calendar of events takes advantage of the many excellent paddling rivers and flat-water courses across the country.

The domestic river season starts with the Windhoek Berg River Marathon, a 4 day odyssey in the Cape winter from Paarl to Velddrif, followed by the Breede Marathon, Lowveld Croc, Hansa Powerade Fish, and Vaal Challenge marathons.

In the summer season the major races switch to KwaZulu-Natal for the Umzinyathi 50 Miler and peaking at the Unlimited Dusi Marathon, which remains the biggest race on the calendar. The Umkomaas marathon is arguably the roughest water raced in K1s and K2s anywhere in the world, and the river season winds down with Unlimited Dusi Nonstop, the Drak Challenge and Tugela Marathons.

The Flat-water Marathon Championships and SA Team selection take place in May/June ahead of the major world events in August to October.

Flatwater marathon racing is a highly tactical discipline that takes place in a lap format, with a portage at the end of every lap. Different distances are raced depending on age category and sex of participants.

South African Marathon Championship distances:

Junior Men: 5 Laps, 21km
Junior Women: 4 laps, 17km
Senior and U23 Men: 7 laps, 30km
Senior and U23 Women: 6 laps, 25km.