Page 46 - Cormorant 2019
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Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race
Lt Col Pete Hale and Lt Col Ed Wigmore
HOW BEST TO SPEND a sunny Easter weekend? How about paddling 125 miles, non-stop, in a tippy racing kayak? The DW Canoe Race is considered the Everest of canoesport events and over a beer at the start of ACSC22, we decided to give it a go. After all, how hard could it be?
To support our adventure, the Army provided a two-man racing kayak (K2) and we began regular training paddles on the Thames at Lechlade.
After getting used to the challenge of staying upright in our unstable, carbon-fibre racing boat, the British winter kicked in. Our training was mostly at night
in sub-zero temperatures, and it focussed primarily
on developing technique. By Feb 2020 we started entering build-up races on the Thames and the Kennet Canal, culminating in a 38 mile race.
The DW race itself was epic. Supported by two teams of friends, family and JSCSC mates (thanks
to Lt Cols Jon Searle and Joe Bigg!), we set off from Devizes Wharf on Easter Saturday at 0830. Eight hours and 54 miles later we reached Reading and the River Thames. The atmosphere from supporters, other racers, and the public was amazing. At
this stage we were tired, with sore bottoms and shoulders, and struggling to stay hydrated and well-fed. The following 50 miles paddling through
the night were very tough, and by dawn we had reached
Teddington and the tidal Thames: we were nearly there!
As we neared Westminster the London landmarks became more recognisable. Paddling was now a real struggle and we
were both hurting. We reached the finish at Westminster Bridge, met by our team,
in 24 hrs 41 mins. The DW was the hardest challenge either of us had undertaken: we were both very proud to have completed it, and for now
are happy to confirm “never again!”
     By Feb 2020
we started entering build-
up races on the Thames... ◆◆◆

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