The Mount Everest of Canoe Races
My friend and Babcock engineer colleague Doug Reid and I are taking on a very tough challenge at Easter this year; the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon. This event, often referred to as the ‘Mount Everest of canoe races’ has been running since 1950, and comprises a 125 mile course on the Kennet and Avon canal, and later the river Thames, with 77 ‘portages’ around locks on the way.
We will be attempting the blue riband ‘straight through’ version of the race, i.e. a nonstop effort which is likely to take around 24 hours. We will be paddling a two-man K2 racing kayak, and will receive food, drink and technical support from our six strong support team at various checkpoints. The recently deceased Lord Paddy Ashdown, who won the folding boat class during his time as a Royal Marine said about the race: “It was crippling. We took 25 hours to finish the course, and I can only think of one person in history who has spent a worst Easter”
‘Zero to Hero’
To complicate matters, Doug and I only recently (September) started learning to paddle racing kayaks. We have both grown up around watersports and have experience paddling ‘sit on tops’, swimming, and surfing, but this is a different craft entirely. Stability is a huge challenge in the narrow racing boats, which is only achieved through excellent technique, correct equipment set-up and a high degree of mental and physical conditioning. In practice this translates to hundreds of training hours spent paddling, running, stretching etc.
The last four months has truly illustrated to us what a difficult thing it is that we are taking on. It is our hope that we can now build on this period (largely dominated by capsizing, long cold swims, and posterior pain / numbness), and crank up the miles through a progressive schedule of training and racing. We are lucky enough to have the first class coaches and team at Fowey River Canoe Club behind us, without which we wouldn’t stand a chance.
Tree Planting Goals
We first heard of Moor Trees at a George Monbiot / Alan Watson Featherstone (Trees For Life) talk at Plymouth University a few years ago. Loving the great outdoors we feel planting native woodland to protect our planet, our corner of England, is exceptionally valuable.
We are part of Babcock’s 800-strong engineering design team. Many of the woodlands in Devon were felled in the last century to create ships, and so working with such a history of ship building, and enjoying being on water there seems a natural connection between us kayaking the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster and fundraising to plant trees and raise awareness for the local tree planting / rewilding cause.
We hope you will sponsor us. Please use the link below.
Tim Baker & Doug Reid
Funds raised (£)
Number of days to Race Day