Marham Canoeist Takes on International Canoe Race Challenge

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire and finishes just downstream of Westminster Bridge in London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The race has been held annually over the Easter Weekend since 1948.

The race is 125 miles long and has 77 portages (locks). The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal, the next 55 miles are on the River Thames and the final section is on the tidal portion of the Thames.

The race is a severe test of skill and stamina which produces a memorable sense of achievement for those successfully completing it. The non-stop version of the race is the longest non-stop canoe race in the world!

This year Sgt David Duff from RAF Marham and Warrant Officer Mick Chandler from RAF Cranwell will be taking part with an aim of trying to beat the RAF record of 19 hours 52 minutes which has stood since 1984. Both paddlers have an extensive list of achievements in the sport and were both Inter-service champions in 2010. Despite currently ranked as the top RAF crew they are under no illusion how tough it is going to be to break the record let alone just finishing the race. Despite a lot of training the weather on the day of the race is a major concern because most crews fail due to the cold. Battling against fatigue, feeling tired and hungry in the middle of a cold night when your body is screaming for you to stop is always a challenge. A lack of rain and the resulting low flow is also another factor, which makes the race even tougher. However, the pair are prepared to stay focused and be mentally tough, accepting the fact it is not going to be easy!

When planning the event, both Dave and Mick knew that this could also be an ideal opportunity to raise some money for a really worthwhile cause. Sgt Duff wanted to support something in the West Norfolk region, which may benefit people from RAF Marham and the local community. The pair, being keen sportsmen were also keen to find a cause with a sporting flavour which helped young people. After some research the Kandoo Club was decided upon; a group based in nearby King’s Lynn offering unique opportunities to disabled youngsters to participate in sporting activities.

The Kandoo Club is held every Wednesday throughout the year from 6 till 7.30pm at Lynnsport, Leisure Park, King’s Lynn. A range of sporting activities are run by fully qualified sports coaches from local sports clubs in West Norfolk. The Club gives the youngsters the opportunity to take part in regular sports activities, get fit and meet new friends. With club coaches running the sessions the opportunity is there to go on and join a local club.

If anybody is interested in sponsoring us and supporting this very worthwhile cause please could you contact Sgt Duff on Ext: 6093.

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