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Pride comes before a… (Devizes to Westminster cock-up)

The day began well. During my lunch break I managed the longest run in six weeks. Granted it was only 15 minutes, but it was pain free. I collected my gigantic race shoes from Profeet for the MdS, extra big to accommodate swollen, tortured soles. And the sunset was great.
But then I arrived at Eel Pie Island where our uber-sleek kayak is stored.
It was time for our first training session, with the Devizes to Westminster race just over a week away and sensible warnings of the need for four months of training ringing in our ears. The Thames is in flood at the moment, and Eel Pie Island is accessible only by a footbridge, now located several feet from dry land. Fortunately an enterprising young scallywag was loaning welly boots so I arrived dry and keen.
The river was racing, the night was cold but bright. We lowered the sexy carbon fibre boat into the water. Lucy climbed in. I followed behind. We pushed away from the jetty. BANG – we were upside down in the river and the water was dark and cold and racing and we whizzed downstream and grabbed the paddles and the boat and the jetty and began hauling ourselves out of the Thames. I had not even imagined a kayak could be so unstable!
So our training evening turned into hot tea by the radiator and me squelching home early in too-tight borrowed jeans, a girl’s rugby top and plastic bags on my numb feet. Time for a rethink. Time for a search for a less sleek boat. Time for humble pie. Time to get up early before work tomorrow and get back out there and see if we can stay upright for more than one second…

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  1. Jackson Griffith Posted

    Stumbled across this articles from your archives Al – it has so many echoes of my own DW race back in 2003. We also just had a handful of training sessions as kayak virgins, all in a super sleek, ‘carbon everything’ kayak that spent more time upside down that not! Two weeks prior to the race, we ditched it and went for a sea kayak instead, built like the Ark Royal in comparison and duly christened “Camilla” (might be some old cockney reference to an old ‘boat race’).

    The organisers sniggered on the start line, Elite crews scoffed at us mere amateurs, race marshalls nominated us as “most likely to fail”, all in which we took great pride. But it worked, we finished DW in 38 hours (ish), 3rd from last (ish). Ludicrous times. Great memories. Thanks for the reminder!



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Shouting from my shed

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