THOUSANDS of people have poured into Swan Hill for the final leg of the 44th annual Murray Marathon.
With more than 400 competitors, 170 volunteers and up to 3000 support crew, family members and friends tagging along, the marathon has brought an estimated $3.5 million to communities along the river.
The team Two Short Men, Steve Monger, of Gosford, and Greg Smith, of South West Rocks, took line honours earlier today after winning each leg of the five-day 404km event which started at Yarrawonga last week.
The pair were grateful to reach the finish line at Swan Hill, sporting blistered hands and aching butts, after 5 hours and 40 minutes of paddling today, with an unofficial race time of 30 hours 32 minutes and 57 seconds.
Mr Smith said they had previously competed in the marathon in 2010, but hadn't set out to win this year.
''We just aim to finish, to do our best,'' he said.
The first junior home was Casey Haynes, 17, of East Seville.
The rest of the field included paddlers as young as 13, two sisters in their late 70s, and entrants from every state and territory of Australia, as well as visitors from France and Canada.
The last stragglers are expected to pass the finish line later this afternoon.
Nationals deputy leader, Peter Walsh, who also is Minister for Agriculture and Food Security and Minister for Water, continued the tradition of conservative pollies in sport, taking part in his fifth marathon.
Rather than emulate federal opposition leader Tony Abbott in Speedos, or Victorian Premier Ted Ballieu's neoprene in the Lorne Pier to Pub swim, Mr Walsh opted for sunsmart clothing: long sleeved shirt, hat and lashings of sunscreen.
The Member for Swan Hill was part of a team of six, with fellow Nationals MP Tim McCurdy, Swan Hill councillor Greg Cruickshank, Lachlan Thom, Jennifer Thom and Kim Kirby.
''It's great (to) come back to the marathon community and see people you haven't seen for 12 months,'' he said.
''The city MPs get involved in the swims, the bike rides. This is what's unique to our area so it's important we support it.''
In the past, Mr Walsh trained heavily for the event, notching up 300-400km a week on the water.
This year he struggled to find the time.
''Before I was a minister I'd put in 300 or 400km a week,'' he said.
''But this year I've only been out three times. I just haven't had time to train, which will tell.''
Mr Walsh got the marathon off to a good start when he handed over a cheque for $40,000 to Murray Marathon management committee chairman Scott Chapman.
Sponsored by VicSuper, the Murray Marathon is run by YMCA Victoria as a charity event.
- Race results will be posted at murraymarathon.ymca.org.au