DW Canoe Marathon

Posted: 18th April 2024

On Thursday 28 March our DW paddlers headed to Devizes for the start of the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon.

After training since September, our paddlers were ready for the event having regularly braved gruelling weather conditions and long training sessions over the winter months. In fact, the weather conditions – and in particular the rainfall throughout March – had already seen the Junior race shortened this year. It was now being scheduled to finish halfway, after 50 miles, at Reading on day 2, due to the River Thames being ‘Red Boarded’ by the Environment Agency.

Easter Friday saw all of the race entrants and their support teams start to gather at Devizes wharf ahead of the 09:00 start. Our crews calmly checked their boats and made their final adjustments to their kit and were soon waiting for their start window. Aided by a good amount of water in the canal, and a steady flow, they performed well over the day. The canal waters were spilling over the locks and in some cases onto the tow path, causing some issues, but nonetheless all crews beat their PBs over this section of the race aided by their support teams who kept them fuelled over the day’s paddling.

In the afternoon I, and coaches from other schools, inspected the section of canal which they were due to race along the following morning, paying particular attention to the spots where river flow entered the channels. The difficult decision was made to withdraw our crews from the race. and informing the paddlers was a difficult and emotional task after everything they had put into training for this event, and as some of them were currently in first position in their class.

I hope to see them on the water again soon; they have had a fantastic journey and have been a pleasure to coach (most of the time!). Remember ‘it’s the climb’ that counts.

Article written by Luke Francis, Head of Humanities (College) and DW Coach.

Categories: Expeditions