On Sunday 26th November, 190 paddlers took to the Oxford Canal for the annual Ross Warland Memorial Canal Challenge. The 20 mile race, starting at Banbury Canoe Club in Cropredy, to Nell’s Bridge in Anyho and back with 12 portages attracts paddlers from around the country including international level elite racers. This year GB paddler, James Russell smashed the course record for the Senior Men’s K1 by 2 mins setting the new record at 2:26:29. 

There was a definite chill in the air on the morning of the race but thankfully no ice on the canal as in previous years.  The race is run as a time trial so paddlers set off at intervals throughout the morning and started returning home just after midday. Many choose to race in K1s or K2s for the full 20 miles, others share the mileage racing in relay teams switching at the turn point at Anyho.

This annual race is held in memory of Ross Warland and other young people who did not have the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. Ross, who died of bone cancer in February 2000 at the age of 21, was an active and popular member who first joined Banbury Canoe Club when he was 8 years old. When no longer able to paddle he devoted his time to coaching and training club members. His attitude and courage towards his illness was an inspiration to all those that met him.  Ross’s father, Graham, said of his son “he was just a driven, inspirational person who did his upmost not to let the disease get the better of him. Canoeing and the kindness of the people in the canoeing world gave him a great deal of motivation”. All food and drink provided on the day was provided in return for donations to The Bone Cancer Research Trust, thanks to everyone’s generosity we have raised just short of £1,000 towards this cause.

The results for each category were as follows:- K1- 1st  James Russell (Chelmsford), 2nd Joe Petersen (Banbury) 3rd George Durden (Elmbridge); K2 – 1st William Stroud and Lewis Duffield (Chelmsford), 2nd Billy Butler (Falcon) and Jon O’Grady (Runcorn), 3rd Katie Brookes and Toby Bullock (Exeter); K1 Relay 1st Sam Dickson (Falcon) and Tyler Kinder (Reading), 2nd Peter Skinnner and Tymur Rudnyev (Reading), 3rd Patrick Allan and Samantha Martyn (Wey); K2 Relay 1st Imogen Collins, Amber Owen, David Hatton and Luke Rockey (Reading), 2nd Barney Kelliher, Toby Visser, Victoria Knee and Dan Hoyle (Bradford on Avon), 3rd Dave Long, Christopher Hearne, Bob Edmonds-Seal and Nick Barnett (Falcon). Congratulations to you all.