Race Report written by Richard Carter
Photos by the NCC team
The Ross Warland 20 mile “out and back” race, was hosted by Banbury & District Canoe Club on Sunday 27th November. Run annually in memory of Ross, who died of bone cancer in 2000 aged just 21, this event combines fund-raising with the very best of marathon canoe racing. Nearly 200 paddlers took on the challenge, which covers the 20 miles from Cropredy to Nell Bridge, Aynho and back, including 9 of our very own club members.
Despite an inauspicious pre-morning downpour in Newbury a watery dawn with high cloud assured the early boat collection was a dry affair. Newbury Canoe Club had 9 entrants, Ed , Richard C, Rebecca and Mike W as a K2 relay changing at the 10 mile mark. Pat and Rob as well as Mike R and Dave as K2’s each doing the full 20miles and James T doing the full race in a K1. As a relay we had to pack the right things in two cars to make sure on the relay the right people with the right paddle were ready to paddle at the right location. It was all too hard to work out so we outsourced logistical thinking to Ed, and succeeded without too many kerfuffle’s.
The race runs along the Oxford canal, which is a narrowboat canal completed in 1790 linking the Thames to the Grand Union Canal and thereby the Midlands to London. The race has a fearsome reputation amongst our veteran paddlers as Patrick remembers ice on the canal at the last race in the calendar and Paul said it was always a freezing cold race.
At the start Dave was sporting a very smart new blue Dry Robe from Primark (£30) and looked the part despite no Range Rover.
Sadly our race captain Paul wasn’t with us but we managed to get our own numbers without too many hiccups. Paddling commenced from 9:15am onwards through to 10:00 when the bells of the village church sounded a beautiful send off.
As an ‘out and back’ staggered start race everybody had their own objective.
It was Mike and Rebecca’s first race and first 10miles in a K2. That’s a thing. For our serious K2 entrants under 3 hours was muttered as a good challenge and personally I consider any race that doesn’t involve being upside down in the canal and playing Mr Submarine a victory.
The canal locks are suitable only for a single narrowboat so relative to the Kennet and Avon canal it felt tight and very bouncy on the water, but very pretty with lot’s of canal history along the way.
You pass through the centre of Banbury, as well as a new shopping centre at the mid-point, under the M40 and past a gigantic Amazon warehouse – so all sorts to see. Our race was made more exciting by a bump with another competitor who wasn’t convinced that “River Right” applied to him. The audible crack of breaking carbon fibre may have adjusted his thinking.
When paddling with Ed I’m in charge of all inter boat communication and diplomacy – which basically involves saying ‘well done’ or ‘not far now’ or ‘sorry’ but we didn’t have time or inclination to exchange insurance paperwork mid race on this particular occasion.
Scores on the doors
This years Banbury Ross Warland 20 Miler was a super race in mild conditions.
James came 20th with a time of 2:57.
Dave & Mike and Pat & Rob were 41st and 42nd with times around 3:18.
Ed, Rich, Rebecca and Mike totalled a time of 3:41 to come 60th.
But more importantly the bacon sandwich and cake selection provided by the club was
terrific and well deserved after a good effort.
Race food: 10/10! – Ena kindly provided flapjack for breakfast and the cake stand was terrific
Race conditions: 8/10 – easy parking near the water and there were changing rooms so no need to change by the car – what luxury!
Race energy: 11/10 – Rebecca had so much positive energy and spirit she lifted the whole team! Bravo to Mike and Rebecca for their first race.
Opportunities for improvement: few – the coffee shop in the shopping centre could lay on hot chocolate canal side mid race and we could insist in future that Mike and Dave wear Santa hats and have reindeer horns on the prow of their kayak – it won’t slow them down any – and would add smile factor.