Known as the Everest of marathon canoeing, the Devizes to Westminster is, for many, the pinnacle of long-distance canoe races. This year we had one crew in the non-stop Senior Doubles (K2) class, and three in the four-day stages race for Senior Singles (K1). Last year, the race was stopped early due to high rainfall and the river flooding – this year the heat was the additional challenge, as if 125 miles and 77 locks to portage aren’t enough.
The stages race is split over 4 days, with our three K1 competitors setting off on Good Friday. Neil struggled with his drinks system, and by day 3 decided enough was enough for this year. Felicity and Robyn – with a lot of help from their support crews – got through all four stages, paddling the last day together to finish alongside under Westminster Bridge. The support crews deserve as much respect as the paddlers – needing to be constantly available at the portages, with food, drink or moral support. Sometimes it’s tough love – knowing what the paddler is truly capable of, and persuading them to continue through the tiredness and pain.
The straight-through race starts on Saturday, and the crews paddle all day, and through the night, to hopefully finish at Westminster on Easter morning. Chris and Lee managed this in just over 24 hours. Another mighty performance, and only possible with help from their support crews.
If you’re interested in taking on this challenge next year, do get in touch. Our next Open Afternoon is on Saturday 8 June