Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Devizes to Westminster

The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race is a kayaking marathon which begins in the sleepy Wiltshire town of Devizes and finishes in the one of the busiest capitals in the world. 125 miles of water, boats, locks and fisherman. They are just some of the many challenges each paddler faces during this epic sporting journey.

There are several different categories which you can compete in. You can decide to tackle the 125 miles over four days or you can try to complete it all in one sitting. Whatever the race, it's certainly not for the faint hearted. There is also an under 18's category where you paddle the race in four days and camp after each stretch of the journey is complete. So after the hard work of racing at 7 mph along the waterways for 6 hours, you then have to spend the night in a tent. Not the most comfortable way to finish a day, but it is all worth it in the end. I joined the Devizes Canoe Club's Junior members on their final training session before the big race. Junior Kayak coach Ed Dobson took me out on to the water to give me a taster of how the club have been preparing.

This was Ed's fourth year of taking part in the DW race, but for many of the children in the club it was going to be their first attempt. The glorious weather that was predicted for the race signaled trouble. Much of the training has been done through out the winter where temperatures have dropped below -5 degrees. Facing sunshine and warm temperatures of 25 degrees plus was something no one had planned for. What amazed me when I was out on the water is just how small racing kayak's are. They are very slender and the smallest amount of motion can set it off balance. This is what I found out in my second part of training with Ed.

From my taster session with the juniors I understand just how hard the race was going to be not only on their bodies but on their minds too. Having to get up and know you have about 30 miles of distance to cover must be a struggle. I watched the members of the junior team begin their race in Devizes all smiles and laughter. 125 miles later that turn into satisfaction, relief and exhaustion. Ed and his partner came 3rd in their class and completed it all in under 18 hours. A great achievement.

No comments:

Post a Comment