London, 21 April 2019 – In a sensational outcome, a mixed crew has seen off competition from all-mens crews from around the world to win the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race.
Alexandra Lane and Dan Seaford from Reading Canoe Club were considered outsiders for the race, often described as ‘the canoeist’s Everest’ and one of the world’s toughest endurance events. After enduring baking temperatures on Easter Saturday and historically low levels of flow on the Thames, Lane and Seagrove reached Westminster in18 hours, 1 minute and 58 seconds, more than 17 minutes ahead of the next crew, an all-male boat from Richmond and Maidstone Canoe Clubs.
The competition also included members of the Great Britain team and canoeists from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, and the US.
Lane, who has previously won the women’s class, said she was delighted. “We trained very hard but there were some great crews in the race,” she said at Westminster today. “We knew if we kept going, we would be alright, but to win is obviously very special.”
It’s the second time in four years that a mixed crew has won overall. In 2015 Great Britain Team members Keith Moule and Lizzie Broughton triumphed.
The non-stop race attracts entrants ranging from international athletes to the Armed Forces. Every year hundreds of amateur canoeists attempt the race but around one-third fail to finish, often defeated by the sheer effort of paddling for around 24 hours and portaging kit-laden boats around 77 locks on the Kennet & Avon canal and the Thames.
Among the favourites for the Senior Doubles title this year are past winners Keith Moule and Tom Sharpe from Chelmsford and Richmond Canoe Clubs. They pulled out at Reading after more than 50 miles of canoeing after Moule developing breathing problems.
A challenge from promising military crews came later in the race with strong performances from the Royal Marines and Royal Engineers, but Lane and Seagrove were too strong for them and the fastest three boats were all civilian entrants.
Race Director James Treadgold said: “The performance by Alexandra and Dan is truly remarkable. It again shows that on an ultra-endurance event women are every bit as capable as the men. I hope it encourages more girls into canoeing and to take part in the race.”
Competitors start their race at Devizes in Wiltshire on Easter Saturday but must time their departure to reach Teddington Lock in south-west London in time for the early morning ebb tide into London on Easter Sunday.
More than 300 hardened paddlers reached Westminster on Easter Sunday at the conclusion of a race described as ‘the canoeist’s Everest’, a 125-mile marathon from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster Bridge in Central London.
Unexpectedly warm temperatures combined with low levels of flow on the Thames to make the 2019 “DW” race one of the hardest in recent years.
Race director James Treadgold said conditions had again defeated almost one third of the nearly 200 non-stop crews who started from Devizes on Easter Saturday.
“It has been a spectacularly tough year on the weather front,” Treadgold said. “The lack of rain means there is very little flow on the Thames and it makes for slow times. Crews find themselves on the course for an hour or two longer, and it often makes the difference between success and failure.”
Among the successful crews were Jonathan White and Lee Waters, two former Royal Marines injured in Afghanistan who beat many able bodied crews to reach London in just 26 hours 27 minutes 03 seconds.
White, who lost both legs and his right arm at the elbow after being injured by an IED on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan and Waters, who suffered gunshot wounds in an insurgent attack, previously completed the race in 2012. This time, however, the conditions were more arduous and there was much less flow, essential for a quick time on what is often described as one of the world’s toughest endurance events.
This year’s race included entries from the several Army regiments including the Royal Engineers and the Royal Signals. Personnel from the Royal Air Force also took part.
Another successful finisher was Ciara Lee from Longridge Canoe Club in Marlow. She paddled in honour of her husband Eddy, a keen canoeist and motorcyclist, who was killed in a road accident in 2018. Lee took up the sport just seven months ago but finished with clubmate Ollie Harding in 24 hours, 40 minutes, 11 seconds, raising almost £20,000 for Brake, the Road Safety Charity.
The race results can be found on the event website at: http://results.dwrace.co.uk/results/2019/Results/OverallClassResults.html
First three boats:
- Alexandra Lane and Dan Seaford, Reading Canoe Club 18:01:58
- Richard Hendron and Aaron Jordan, Richmond and Maidstone Canoe Clubs 18:19:06
- Alex Burt and Paul Hayes, Newbury Canoe Club 18:38:07
19. (Fastest all-women’s crew) Jo Bates and Elena Golder, Falcon Canoe Club 21:29:27