Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Jonas Saelens is the new Belgian Marathon Champion in a race won by Dutch Joep van Bakel at Neerpelt

Left to right: van Bakel, Cremers, Saelens and Broekx. Pic: Marc Faes (Neerpelt.in)
On Saturday it was held at Neerpelt the Kempen Marathon, flagged as Belgian Championships 2013. In a very cold day, the race was open, but first Belgian in each category earned the national title.

At the Men Senior race, over 22 km., a group of four paddlers was leading the race, including three Belgians (Tom Cremers, Toon Broekx and Jonas Saelens) and Dutch champion Joep van Bakel. But the race was broken after the second portage (out of three). It was then when Toon Broekx suffered of cramps in his legs, due to the cold and lost a lot of time until he recovered. Joep van Bakel then saw his opportunitty going onto the water to push hard, leaving behind Cremers and Saelens.

Comfortable win for van Bakel, but the thrill was in the second position, with the fight for the Belgian title, which finally fell on the side of Jonas Saelens against his teammmate Tom Cremers, who took silver. Finally bronze went to an exhausted Toon Broekx.

His sister Lize Broekx had a comfortable win in the Women senior race, but closely followed by junior Karolien Plas, who already played a nice role at Gent one week before. The Cadet race was won by Kobe Pannecoucke, little brother of Olympian Laurens Pannecoucke, who was not competing this time.

Beautiful race in the Masters, with all I, II, and III categories starting at the same time and up to eight boats in the leading group for the first lap of the course. After the first portage, three of them broke away: Olaf Heijne (NED) and Belgians Hans Meersman and Bruno Jannis. This last one tried to keep the pace slow at the fron so his teammmate Erwin Smits, who was slightly behind, could contact again. But after the second portage, Hans seemed satisfied with his Belgian title in Vet I (35-45) and the final sprint was just between Heijne and Jannis, with victory for the Dutch, but Jannis also taking the Belgian Championship in his category Vet II (45-55).

You can check the results at this link.

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