top of page

Waterside'D' - for 'All Done'!

A Great end to the Waterside 2023 series

Type 2 fun occurs when a task is difficult at the time, but feels rewarding afterward, often because it challenges the practitioner to test their limits and grow. Examples of Type 2 fun include backpacking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking and more importantly for the purposes of this report - marathon paddling. Waterside D takes the contestants 34 miles along the Kennet & Avon Canal from Devizes to Newbury. It is a very, very long way to paddle and it represents an epic achievement for crew’s young and old alike.

Ex-footballer, TV star and current Type 2 super-athlete was spotted in the race as he prepares for the DW and super marathon across North America in aid of the charity he set up in his late daughter's memory.

The winner’s navigated 35 portages, including a 1km walk because of a closed section of canal and a 500m tunnel (well done to Keith Moule & Tom Sharpe who completed it in 4:24). For many of the younger participants who are still at school 6 hours of paddling may be the reality and some kayakers were out on the water for over 7 hours. Newbury Canoe Club had two crews participating - James and Luke as veteran men coming 2nd achieving a super 5:36, and Rob with son Patrick with an excellent time of 6:15 winning the Junior Veteran category.

Rob and Pat happily making it through the tunnel

For Race D Paul and I had the task of putting out the cones and traffic markings, then acting as controlling Marshalls at Wootton Rivers, and finally picking up the 70 or so cones plus the various signage and returning it all to the Clubhouse. This meant a 7am start which on a Sunday felt extremely extreme, but speaking to one crew support at Wootton Rivers their day had kicked off at 4am (from Tring), so it’s a long day for many. Wootton Rivers is the first support crew relief after a terrifically long paddle with no stops all the way from the Devizes start. This is 2 or 3 hours of continuous paddling. A stretch of the legs and wolfing down some food was a must for all participants.

After Wootton Rivers we checked in with the very well managed deviation route at Crofton, picking up cones and signage as we went. Paddlers were given an allowance of 15 minutes to do the 1km walk around the closed section of towpath. They were not being allowed to go back on until after this time so jelly babies and refreshements were on hand for those who made it round faster. Road marshall Julie was in the 'good news' position where she could point out that the brow of the hill was in sight and was all downill from there! She reported that many paddlers were smiling and commented that they were rather relieved by the opportunity to stretch their legs and hip flexors and munch a snack on their way around. Maybe not quite so favourable for those in K1’s and C1's! One lady had cleverly attached wheels to the back of her K1 – but her boat still looked heavy!

Thence to Dun Mill where a difficult road crossing was ably managed by Caroline, Lynne and other Marshalls. Drivers were invariably respectful and supportive of the race.

Footage of the race coming through Hungerford

Lastly we de-coned at Hampstead Marshall (a new verb registered for the picking up of a lot of cones) and filled the rest of Paul’s van with our plastic friends. A resident said; ‘I’ve enjoyed the race for 40 years, but thanks for helping preserve my bit of grass verge!”. Our cones are worth it. I had by the end named them all, Colin the Cone, Clive the Cone, Cathy the Cone, Carrie the Cone, Cecil the Cone, Cuthbert the Cone … you get the idea … and they all came home to our little garden shed at the Clubhouse … nice.

With nearly 7 hours together Paul and I covered a range of interesting subjects

. My favourite colour paint: magnolia

. My favourite wallpaper: woodchip

. My favourite edible item in the Marshall’s box: mini cheddars

Indeed by 7:03am after less than 5 minutes in the van together Paul was convinced that there were few area’s of commonality between his deep competences and my lack of any competence anywhere on anything. However, I can report that we both like Marks & Spencer’s Pain Au Chocolat.

Thanks to Paul and all the Marshalls for volunteering their time and good cheer. It was a long day with NCC volunteers being at the start in Devizes before 6am and the last finisher completing at 4pm. And that doesn’t include the work before and after. Well done to all but most of all well done to the competitors.

'Tail end Charlie' Mike Wright, trailing the last boat so the marshalls know when they can stand down.

Type 2 fun is characterised by; 1) increased esteem and pride as a result of proving you’re stronger than you think, 2) strong memories 3) self -discovery and perspective and lastly 4) strengthened resilience. I most especially give thanks to the junior athlete’s, their teachers, supporters and families for reminding us that our collective future is in good hands.

If you want to find out more about:

Devises to Westminster:

See you all next year I hope!



bottom of page