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Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race 30th March to 2nd April

Two Lincoln paddlers Gary Carter and Steve Gardner who live near Bawtry, Doncaster are attempting the 125 mile race for the first time this year. Please read more from Gary and Steve and send them your thoughts.


Steve Gardner DW Report : 3 Feb 2018

Training wise we have targeted 24 hours for the DW. Our strategy to succeed is to get at least 1 x long paddle in every week. We started training in early November. At first 3 hours in a boat was hell. I can’t say it’s comfortable but now 3 hours is manageable without too much pain. We are trying to make our long paddle a steady 3 to 4 hour ‘race pace’ and varying between canals and wider rivers (the Don or the Trent). Paddling at night is part of the plan. We are trying to paddle at least 6 or 7 miles every day. In reality we are achieving 5 paddles a week. To add variation we are on our shorter paddles (1 to 2 hour) including portaging at night and interval training. The canals around Retford are ideal with plenty of locks at 1 mile intervals. As you know to try and familiarise ourselves with the route we have done 2 x day paddles of 20 miles+ on part of the Thames. We have decided not to paddle the Thames warm up races. We feel the traveling time would be better spent on the local rivers and canals. We have however decided to do a day paddle later in February familiarising ourselves with the Kennet and Avon canal between Pewsey and Reading (23 miles). There are a lot of portages on that stage and it will be good to test our pace. So far, touch wood, we have avoided injury. It’s always in the back of our mind that an injury could scupper our plans. Getting the balance between training hard and staying healthy is important. So far so good….entries are confirmed and only 8 weeks of training left.

Gary Carter Report Devizes to Westminster canoe race 2018

Why do a 125 mile race in a canoe ? The answer is I don’t Know. At 57 years old and paddled from the age of 13 at ww racing and slalom for most of that time over short distances then sat in a canoe for 24 hrs was never going to happen. After joining Lincoln canoe club 10 years ago, going up and down, flat water 8 mile races and ultimately descent races on the liffey, what next ? The thought of long, paddles for training in winter was never something I wanted to do. So no I am not going to do it I told myself every year for the last 5 – 6 years.

Something changed in my life 2 years ago with my daughter and ultimately last year I lost a very dear friend ( Peter Jarrett) who had done this race 40 years ago when I was just starting canoeing. His son Theo, completed the race last year, which I have to admit along with peters illness at the time changed my mind.

The big but obvious question to me was who else would do it with me. The answer was easy telling Steve Gardener what he was doing this Easter. The difficult bit was how much time could we commit our self to doing it. Steve a very busy person, me working 12 hr shifts.

It started off last October looking at interesting paddling routes to paddle locally near Bawtry. We have the chesterfield canal on our doorstep with lots of locks like the first 54 miles of the race, this was perfect. We then discovered the river don from Sheffield to Doncaster had locks like the Thames ( not the same scenery) . The river idle at Bawtry linked all these together. A trip doing 44 miles over 2 days on the Thames with Archi and J.R last October I can honestly say along with Steve and all the planning with food, drink and equipment so far I have enjoyed every part of it.

Why am I paddling it now, I have a link to M.I.N.D charity making mental health awareness a issue. Some of it is for my daughter Gayle, some for Peter who started me canoeing the rest is for Steve in the back of the k2 because I don’t think he wants to push me for 125 miles ! I shall tell you after Easter this year how we coped.

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