Competitor Information

Liffey Descent 2023

Canoeing Ireland is delighted to welcome you to the 2023 Liffey Descent. Each year this event throws out its challenge to paddlers over the 32-kilometre stretch of the river Liffey creating a unique atmosphere of competition, fun and friendship.

Starting in the scenic rural countryside of the K Club in County Kildare, partakers envisage the 10 weirs and 1 portage as they watch the water levels rise from the scheduled dam release. Anticipation and excitement intensify as competitors make their way to the start. From the off, the next few hours will test the skills and endurance of each paddler as they focus on completing the course and making it to the finish line at the Garda Rowing Club in Islandbridge, Dublin.  

Six decades have made the Liffey Descent into the world-class canoe marathon it is today. Because of the commitment, determination and ambition of those involved, the race stands tall as one of the great events on the Irish sporting calendar. We would like to thank the race organisers who have worked endlessly to create an enjoyable, safe and memorable occasion..   

We look forward to seeing you at the starting line.

Yours in paddling,

Lynda Byron

President, Canoeing Ireland

Race Pack

Included in your Race Pack will be the following:

  • Race Bib(s)
  • Timing Transponder
  • Meal Card(s)
  • Clothing Voucher


The Rescue Coordinator will be in contact rescue crews and can be contacted throughout the day.

  • All competitors must wear approved buoyancy aids and all craft must have securely fitted and adequate buoyancy.
  • Where necessary, there should be footbars or adequate padding fitted.
  • It is compulsory for all competitors in K1 Class B & C, Wild Water Racers, Touring Doubles, and all Canoe classes to wear approved helmets. Competitors in all other classes are highly recommended to wear helmets
  • Adequate footwear should be worn, as the terrain at the start and at the portage is very uneven. It is also important to consider, because of the possibility of changeable weather conditions, that adequate thermal gear/wetsuit is worn or carried.
  • Competitors not reaching Leixlip portage by 15.30pm or Wren’s Nest Weir by 16.30 should retire from the race.
  • Water based rescue and First Aid will be withdrawn from 17.30pm.
  • If you wish to withdraw from the race please inform race control by phone or text to +353860410547 ASAP.
  • Water based rescue and/or diver rescue will be provided at all major weirs. Competitors are also obliged to give assistance should it be called for during the course of the race.

First Aid

The First Aid coordinator will be in contact with first aid and rescue crews and can be contacted throughout the day.

First Aid Crews will be located at the following points:

  • Straffan Weir
  • Salmon Leap Canoe Club
  • Leixlip Portage (Re-entry point) Sluice Weir
  • Lucan Weir 
  • Wrens Nest Weir
  • Palmerstown Weir
  • Chapelizod Weir
  • Finish, Garda Boat Club

Bib and Tracking/Timing Unit Collection

  • Race Registration bib & satellite tracker/timing unit collection will take place in the Garda Boat Club, Islandbridge on Friday, 9th September from 17.00 to 21:00.
  • Please bring your buoyancy aid to registration so your satellite tracker/timing unit can be attached.
  • It is the paddler’s responsibility to ensure your race bib showing your entry number is clearly displayed, it will be the responsibility of the paddler to inform the timekeeper of the number if there is an issue.
  • There is a €50.00 euro fine for non-return of bibs after the race. Please post bibs back to Canoeing Ireland, Irish Sports HQ, National Sports Campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, D15 DY62, Ireland.
  • There is a €30.00 fine for all GPS Tracker/timing units not returned.
    N.B. There will be no bib collection on Saturday morning in Straffan. Please make an arrangement for your bib and chip to be collected if you cannot make check-in on Friday.

Race Bibs

  • Your Race Bib must be worn with the “Canoeing Ireland” logo to the front. In C2, K2, T2, etc. the front crew member must wear the race bib. Bib Race Numbers must be clearly visible at all times. Do not obscure your Bib Race Number.

Shuttle Bus

Bus 1 leaves the Garda Boat Club for Islandbridge at 09.00am on Saturday morning. Please endeavour to board this bus as its a double decker and has larger capacity than bus 2. You will arrive in the K Club with plenty of time to wash your boat and clear scrutineering.

Bus 2 leaves the Garda Boat Club for Islandbridge at 09.15am

Scrutineering and Kit Check

Scrutineering will take place from 09:00 to 10:30 in the car park. All craft/equipment must be examined before the race by an official scrutineer. Do not leave the car park unless your craft and equipment have been examined. Any competitor who does not have a scrutineer’s approval sticker will not be permitted access to the river. Check that you have all your equipment before you leave the Car Park.

Scrutineers will be moving through the car park examining craft and equipment, or alternatively you can bring your craft and equipment to the designated scrutineering area, which will be located within the car park. Race Bibs should be fitted before you leave the start car park.

Equipment Checklist

  • Scrutineers will ensure:

    • You have an approved canoeing helmet if you are participating in a class that must have helmets. Ensure that your helmet is in good condition and pay particular attention to the helmet strap.
    • Your personal buoyancy aid is adequate and in good condition.
    • Your boat’s buoyancy and footrest are adequate and fitted securely. In particular, Canadians must have sufficient buoyancy.
    • Toggles, end grabs or handles are secure and usable.

If any of the above is inadequate or insecure, approval to participate in the race will be withheld by scrutineers. Your buoyancy aid and racing bib must be worn when passing through to the Start Area. Each year a small number of competitors are refused access because their equipment fails a scrutineer’s examination.
Avoid disappointment – make sure your equipment meets the necessary requirements.


GPS Tracking & Live Streaming

  • 2024 GPS Tracking for competitors will be available for the event.

Access to river and start

  • Announcements will be made in the Car Park at regular intervals advising competitors when to proceed to the gates which access the river. Do not leave the Car Park with your boat and equipment until instructed to do so over the PA.
  • River Access will at close at 10.30 sharp. No competitor will be allowed through the gates after this time.
  • Quickly get on the water and paddle upriver. If for any reason you need to exit the river do so on the river right bank. Do not get off the river onto the hotel grounds.

Please read and be familiar with the Race Start Procedure.

River Entry Area

  • When you get to the River Entry Area get on the river as quickly as possible, please do not hang about. An area of the riverbank will be cordoned off where you can enter the river. Anyone not at the River Entry Area by 10:30 will not be allowed on.
  • As soon as you get on the water you should paddle upriver to the PRE START ASSEMBLY AREA. All competitors must be in PRE START ASSEMBLY AREA before 11:30.

Location of Start and Pre-start lines

  • As you paddle upriver you will pass the START LINE, which will be indicated by a sign on river left. The PRE START LINE will be approximately 200 metres upriver from the START LINE and will be similarly identified by a sign on river left.
  • The ASSEMBLY AREA will start approximately 300 metres upriver from the PRE START LINE. The start of the ASSEMBLY AREA will be indicated by a sign on river left. You must paddle upriver to the ASSEMBLY AREA.  Do not congregate around the START and PRE START LINES.

Start Groups

  • It is necessary, because of the number of classes in the Descent, to group several classes together into START GROUPS. The sequence of the START GROUPS as listed below will also be the order in which each group will be brought forward to the PRE START and START LINES from the ASSEMBLY AREA.
  • In the ASSEMBLY AREA you should position yourself along the river in sequence with the order of the START GROUPS as listed below
  • Remain in your ASSEMBELEY AREA until your START GROUP is called forward. Your START GROUP will be given sufficient time to assemble and will be moved forward by the PRE STARTER from the ASSEMBLY AREA to the PRE START LINE. When a START GROUP reaches the PRE START LINE the PRE STARTER will hand over the group to the RACE STARTER.

Start Line

  • Each START GROUP will be led from the PRE START to the START LINE by the STARTER Any paddler attempting to break away from its Start Group will be penalised or disqualified, video recording will be present at the start.
  • Furthermore, any competitor not obeying start officials will incur five-minute penalties or face disqualification if an infringement of the Starter’s instructions continues.
  • When a START GROUP has assembled before the START LINE, a blast from a hooter will signal the start of the race for that START GROUP. After you leave the 
  • START LINE paddle quickly towards Straffan Weir – remember another START GROUP will be following quickly behind you.
  • The first start will be AT 12:00 with approximately 5- minute intervals between the different start groups. The timing of each start will depend on the situation below the weir. Be patient – you will be kept fully informed through the PA.
  • After you shoot Straffan Weir do not congregate below the weir. If you are paddling in a group wait just beyond the bridge on the river right bank.
  • Classes run at 5 minute intervals approx.

Junior Disclaimer

    • Junior paddlers who are competing in the Liffey Descent are requested to fill out the race disclaimer which can be found below – 

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