Easter weekend has been a busy weekend of long-distance races for Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club. Two of our junior paddlers raced at the Elmbridge junior half marathon on Sunday which takes place on the river Wey from Guildford to where it joins the Thames at Shepperton.
Ben Stratford raced in the under 16 boys’ race and was 1st while Katy Dixon raced in the under 16 girls and was 3rd.
Also taking place this weekend was the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe race. The course starts on the Avon Kennet Canal with a 15-mile-long pound which can be very painful on the backside. This then starts the 77 portages, locks to be run around while carrying the boat that is weighed down with emergency equipment initially taking the paddlers down to Reading where they join the Thames. From here they paddle down to Teddington where, due to this being tidal, the paddlers need to have timed their race to reach this point in the tide window otherwise they cannot get back on the water at this point. They then have a 17 mile stretch on the tidal Thames to Westminster bridge in front of the houses of Parliament.
While the club had two crews taking part in this race this year due to the need for support crews for food, drink and spare kit throughout the race it does become a whole club effort to keep the paddlers going through the race.
Bryan Handsley and Amanda Morris were returning to the course having competed together in 2017 and then deferring their entry from 2018 when the race was cancelled due to floods. They set out to beat 24 hours this time having been training hard in through the winter. They finished in 23 hours and 54 minutes; this places them in 47th place out of 114 boats that completed the race (31 boats retired). This places them 9th in the mixed doubles category, 32nd in the Civilian class or 25th in the veterans.
Also racing were Mike Martin and Beth Goodlad. While they have not raced together before they have both completed this race 5 times previously. They were ahead of their schedule until the tideway where they encountered some problems however they still completed the race in 22 hours and 36 minutes placing them 28th overall, 4th in the mixed doubles class and 19th in the Civilian category.
On Easter Monday was the Marathon Racing selection race for international racing at Reading. Robert Poole competed in the senior class while Maxwell Pickering competing in the juniors however the results from this race have not yet been published.