Monday, 1 April 2013

The Devizes to Westminster 125 Mile Canoe Race.

The start line.

The supposed spring and Easter have arrived again, and the annual world famous canoe race started on Good Friday from Devizes Wharf.  Canoeists come from around the world to take part in this long distance canoe race, which finishes in London outside the House's of Parliament.  The conditions this year were the worst for sometime, and at one stage the organisers considered cancelling the race on the grounds of extremely cold weather.  The photo above shows a twosome at the start of the race at the Wharf.  These two have 125 miles to paddle to the finish line, fingers crossed that they make it!  I have since read, that over a third of the racers give up because of the cold weather conditions.

 Canoeists preparing their boats and equipment outside the "Wharf Theatre."

Officials this year were rigorous in making sure that all the participants were well prepared for the cold weather.  Early on Friday morning, when the elite crews started, there was ice on the canal, and several canoeists had to run along the towpath carrying their canoes.  Later narrowboats moving along the water broke the ice, and late starters reaped the benefit of an ice free canal.   Timing is all, as the canoeist aim to reach Teddington lock when the tide is going out, and they can benefit from the fast flowing water.

A view from the start, overlooking the whart.

The first race began in 1946/1947, when a few servicemen and a farmer chatted in a local pub about paddling from Devizes to London, just for fun!   Someone later offered a prize for the best time, and every year since then the race has taken place, with teams from all around the world participating.  It has been cancelled on a few occasions, the last being during the outbreak of  Foot and Mouth disease in 2002.

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