# Monday, July 02, 2007

“Ow ow ow how I ache!” I know that’s what you wanted to hear but sadly for you I feel strangely fine after completing The Cheshire Ring Race (for those of you who have been living on the moon for the past few months this was a 96 mile canoe race my brothers, canoe coach and I were doing for charity –if you’ve not yet donated and would like to, please do this at www.paddlathon.co.uk).

So how was The Cheshire Ring Race?

The race went particularly well despite various navigational and kit issues we completed The Cheshire Ring Race course in just over 22 hours (22 hours 57 seconds to be exact) without any injuries or drop outs. We came home with a gold medal –which I think was because we won our division but part of me says they’re all gold for just making it around!

We were also all awarded a certificate and mug to prove we were there (see photos below) and our time so check it out all you doubting Thomas’ ;)

The race

I don’t know if it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done what with completing things like my gold DOE and climbing Ben Nevis to mention a few but it was certainly one of the most challenging events I’ve competed in.

We had a fairly good first leg, holding between 6-7mph and overtaking the guys that started a few minutes ahead of us, but then we had a few issues with getting to the next checkpoint in time and ended up not swapping over with Pat and Paul and instead chasing them around the next few checkpoints playing catch up. We finally met them at Relay Point #5 Ducie Street.

The first mile or so of the next leg through central Manchester was pretty much just portaging lock after lock. I didn’t count them all but there must have been a good 8 or 9 locks and a few tunnels too (complete with dodgy locals of course). Before the next relay point we passed another boat with a broken rudder which has to be a massive PITA as you don’t want anything like that going wrong on a long distance race like The Cheshire Ring Race.

Due to mega traffic in Manchester, the support crew decided to skip the relay point and continue onto the next checkpoint (7. Lymn (Burford Lane Underbridge)) which would have been ok if we had taken our water with us and had more to eat before setting off –neither of which we did as we thought it was only a quick 6.75 mile leg. I think this slowed us down somewhat as both Sam and I ran out of steam half way through the next leg and ended up drinking the canal water to ensure we could continue (not a good thing to do really but it was that or fall in).

By the time we got to the next relay point we were pretty tired and I was seriously hypoglycaemic –to the point I was feeling faint but our super support team had food and drink already prepared for our arrival.

Again, with somewhat sketchy directions, the support team managed to battle onto the next relay point just in time to meet Paul and Pat. The next leg included our first tunnel –and film crew! Had they not been there we would have ended up paddling through the tunnel and missing our next relay point! I would have loved to paddle the tunnels but it’s instant disqualification if you do...

Somehow Pat and Paul wangled a short leg which was a PITA as I wanted to sleep and no sooner than we had got into the car we were off again!

The next few legs were pretty uneventful, just a lot of water and canal boats, but waiting for Paul and Pat at relay point 11. Broken Cross, we were greeted with your typical Saturday night brawl –great entertainment I can tell you! No idea what it was about mind you however I know it involved Michelle and a lot of shouting. Sadly we had to set off before the police were able to get there and sort it out.

Things got a little more interesting as the dark came in. Just as it had got real dark we were doing leg 12. Middlewich Big Lock which included a “make or break” portage –basically if we got it wrong we would either: Go the wrong way and head off to Sheffield, go in a loop back to a checkpoint a few miles back or continue on the right way. Wanting to get it right, I made a point of memorising the directions but when we got there things didn’t make as much sense as they perhaps should have and we ended up wandering into a housing estate before thinking “sod it, let’s try and work it out ourselves”. Shortly afterwards we saw the support crew drive past so we knew we’d gone the right way for once!

Although I’ve paddled early in the morning and late at night in the past, until this race I don’t think I’ve paddled in the pitch dark, due to the rain the moon was covered by cloud which meant when we got out of the urban areas it was seriously dark which made navigation very hard. Sam did a sterling job and managed to get us around without any major incidents (though we did come close to crashing into a lock! –it’s amazing how something so large can be so hidden by darkness...!)

By about 4am however dawn was starting to break and paddling became a lot easier, we had a couple of very nice legs however leg 16. Bridge 77 Congleton was nasty as there were 12 locks to run up right at the end! On the plus side however we did see a couple of kingfishers.

Sam and I then paddled leg 18. Bridge 44 Bullocks Lane to the finish, meeting Paul and Pat at 19. Bridge 29, Clarke Lane to paddle the last 3.75 miles before finishing together at Bridge 18 (also the start).

A breakdown of the relay points:

  1. Bridge 18 (Start/Finish)
    Distance to next point: 5 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  2. Marple
    Distance to next point: 5 miles
    Locks: 16
    Tunnels: 2
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  3. Apethorn Lane
    Distance to next point: 3.25 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  4. Dunkinfield Junction
    Distance to next point: 6.25 miles
    Locks: 18
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  5. Ducie Street
    Distance to next point: 8 miles
    Locks: 9
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  6. Marsland Road
    Distance to next point: 6.75 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  7. Lymn (Burford Lane Underbridge)
    Distance to next point: 6 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  8. London Road Bridge
    Distance to next point: 6 miles
    Locks: 0
    Tunnels: ½ (relay point on top of the tunnel)
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  9. Preston Brook Tunnel
    Distance to next point: 3.5 miles
    Locks: 1
    Tunnels: ½ (relay point on top of the tunnel)
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  10. Valley Farm, Little Leigh
    Distance to next point: 7.25 miles
    Locks: 0
    Tunnels: 2
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  11. Broken Cross, Bridge 184
    Distance to next point: 5.5 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  12. Middlewich Big Lock
    Distance to next point: 6.75 miles
    Locks: 9
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  13. Wheelock
    Distance to next point: 4 miles
    Locks: 14
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  14. Rode Heath
    Distance to next point: 2.25 miles
    Locks: 10
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  15. Red Bull
    Distance to next point: 5 miles
    Locks: 3
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  16. Bridge 77 Congleton
    Distance to next point: 5.75 miles
    Locks: 12
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  17. Bosley Top Lock
    Distance to next point: 4 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Paul/Pat
  18. Bridge 44 Bullocks Lane
    Distance to next point: 3.25 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam
  19. Bridge 29, Clarke Lane
    Distance to next point: 3.75 miles
    Locks: 0
    Paddlers: Tim/Sam/Paul/Pat

The weather

The weather was pretty poor throughout, it seemed to start raining every time we were about to start a new leg of the race. I don’t mind paddling when it’s wet but it certainly makes it hard to get out of the toasty warm support vehicle!

Although it rained for a lot of the way around I feel we were pretty lucky on the whole as there was a severe weather warning around Manchester on the weekend. The weather was pretty mild which meant the rain wasn’t too much of a hindrance –if anything it helped you cool down from the paddling!

The team

We had a fantastic team both on and off the water. I can’t begin to explain how crucial the support team is in an event like this and ours was fantastic. Our support team for The Cheshire Ring Race consisted of:

They all went above and beyond the call of duty and made sure the change over paddlers were in the right place at the right time (most of the time) and also that food/drink was readily available for the paddlers who had just got off the water.

The training

My recent training routine has clearly paid off, I did mean to blog more about how I was improving in the run up to the race however time simply got the better of me. The long and short of it however is that I felt great during the race, ok I was tired at the end of the legs but by the time we had got to the next relay point I was ready to go.

The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the running, according to one of the marshals, the race involves nearly 10miles of portaging (getting out of the water with your boat and running until you get to the next part of the water i.e. around locks), that was particularly tough however I have been including running in my recent training routine so was able to manage it –I’ll be doing more now though!

I’m very pleased with Sam’s training too as that has clearly paid off which makes my job easier! I can’t really comment on Paul or Pat’s training as we never ended up paddling together which is a shame in many ways but they were both looking good –all be it a little tired on the last leg.

What have I learnt?

Those of you who spoke to me before the race know I was aiming to beat the previous relay record (around 16 hours) and after doing that race I’m sure it can be done –and we’re already fit enough to do it. However having completed the race it’s evident that you need far better directions for the support crew and probably included a couple more drivers (which was the plan but sadly a couple had to drop out) to ensure they were able to rest between legs too.

I also think from the POV of the paddlers, it’s important that you drink and eat a lot more than we did. Due to the navigational issues Sam and I didn’t refuel correctly on a couple of our legs which really affected our paddling the next time. Sam and I recon we burnt off in the region of 12,500 calories over the duration of the marathon –I’m going to weigh myself shortly to see how much weight I’ve lost but I recon it’s a couple of pounds.

It’s imperative that each team member concentrates and concerns themselves with only their area –i.e. paddlers on refuelling and resting, drivers on driving, navigators on navigating etc. As soon as you start mixing them up you run into issues.

The last thing I think I’ve learnt is to always go with your gut feeling –it may be a couple of extra kilos but always take your water pack, dehydration of even just 2% can massively affect your performance.

So what’s next?

Replace the 12,500 calories I burnt off!

I would love to do another long distance race at some point, longer term I’d like to take part in the Devises to Westminster race but short term we’ve got the Hasler Finals (national canoe finals) in September to train for. Sam and I are aiming for a medal so I’ll keep you posted.

Will we be doing the race next year? That’s a hard one, at the moment I’m doubtful but if we can get the support crew together again and the rest of the team are up for it I wouldn’t mind taking that record :D

How much did you raise?

We’re still not sure at the moment as there were four of us raising and the website –that and a few people are still promising to make their pledges but I think we’re going to be close to (if not over) our £2,000 target. As soon as I have tallied up the totals I’ll update www.paddlathon.co.uk

In closing

I’d like a moment to thank all those involved with supporting us during the event –without you all we wouldn’t have made it around. That also goes for the event organisers, co-ordinators and marshals, I’m sure there was a phenomenal amount of work involved to host the event –it was well worth it!

The photos

I’m going to get some more off Sam, Pat and Paul shortly but here is a selection of mine...

  • My 'small' pre-race drink
  • So how do I make this thing go?
  • Do we REALLY have to go?
  • I've got an itch
  • Zoom zoom! Forget timing and go fast!
  • No stopping us
  • The back was sliding out we were going that fast
  • Steady on
  • Finally after an hour in the car, we're off again
  • We have cross over!
  • What's that attached to our heads?
  • Should we have told Paul and Pat it was a canoeing race not a walking race?
  • ZOOM! So fast the photo's a blur -and check out the timing!
  • Far, far, far away already
  • Sam wondering where his dinner is
  • First sight
  • And across the finish line we go
  • Our well deserved prizes while eating our even more deserved dinner!
  • Paul: 'They're all mine!'
  • A winners breakfast
  • Cheshire Ring Race Certificate
Monday, July 02, 2007 8:07:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, June 11, 2007

I've been somewhat quiet on the blogging front recently as I have been training hard for the mammoth canoe race we're competing in at the end of this month. The Cheshire Ring Race for those of you who haven't been keeping up with the little news I've been posting recently is a 96 mile canoe race we're doing this year in aid of charity (if you've not already made your pledge, why not pop over to www.paddlathon.co.uk now and make a donation -we've got a fair way to go to our £2,000 target).

Last night I decided it was time I sat down and started planning the route for the drivers, which first meant plotting the route for the paddlers and oh my god is it a long way! Until now I've thought "100 miles, yeah that's not too bad, we'll do that in a few hours..." (ok the few was around 20 but still). Plotting it on the map however shows just how far this thing is!

Instead of feeling daunted by the distance, I'm now even more psyched than before -and have even more reason to hit the gym hard! If you're interested, I've uploaded the route plotted on Google Earth. Currently it only holds the point data but in time I'm going to expand it so it includes information about each route (for the paddlers and drivers) and perhaps once we've done the race, pictures of each point.

For those of you interested in how my canoe training routine is going -it's good. I'm holding a steady 12st 6lb at the moment -sometimes dropping to 122st 4lb and I've blown my previous routine out of the water. Sam and I -despite some misfortune with our kit- have been kicking ass on the past couple of races -taking around 10-15minutes off our times from last year. I'm hoping to complete The Cheshire Ring Race in less than 18 hours at this rate...

Monday, June 11, 2007 10:35:26 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, May 04, 2007

Ok, I promise to post something technical and interesting shortly (yes I know, that’ll be a first yada yada…) but I want to get some information up here about Paddlathon 2007. I’ve written a very quick site which I will be adding more information to shortly but it already has a lot of information about our charity canoe race and more importantly a donation form so once you’re done reading this pop over to www.paddlathon.co.uk and have a look.

I wanted to compete in the Cheshire ring race 2007 for a few personal reasons but the initial motivation was that I missed out on taking part in the Transpennine race –this was stopped the first year I was old enough for my canoeing club to allow me to participate so ever since I’ve wanted to take part in a long race (preferably overnight etc) as I felt it would be fun so when I was handed a flyer for a 96 mile canoe race last season at Bristol I decided it was the perfect choice! There is another long race called Devizes to Westminster which is around 124miles at Easter –which didn’t leave enough time to train or find a partner.

The Cheshire ring race is a 96 mile canoe race but at the end of June which meant more time to train and as it was nearer to summer it would also be warmer. Until a couple of seasons ago, I paddled with my canoe coach –and long term friend Paul Rose but sadly he damaged his back (thanks to me) going over a weir. He’s getting back into canoeing, but having vowed to paddle together again I suggested the Cheshire ring race as a worthy race.

Paul was immediately up for it and once we had got chatting we thought it had enough of a “wow” factor to be worthy of sponsorship and so Paddlathon 2007 was conceived… a 96 mile canoe race is without a doubt a bloody long way and knowing he may still have issues with his back over that sort of distance we decided doing it as a relay race would be better so we decided to get my two brothers Sam and Pat on board as they’re both keen paddlers and are always up for a challenge.

Originally we were going to raise money for a single charity but decided as there were four of us, it would be better to pool our collection efforts and raise for four charities together. The charities we’ve chosen are:

  • Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust

    Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust Logo
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society

    Multiple Sclerosis Society Logo
  • CLIC Sargent

    CLIC Sargent Logo
  • Mac Millan Nurses

    Mac Millan Nurses Logo

To my knowledge, I’ve never asked for anything for the information I openly share on my blog –and I probably never will (beyond the Google AdSense that appears in the design that is) but I would very much appreciate it if you were generous enough to donate a couple of quid as there are some great charities who dearly need your help.

I’ll post more information on the charities, the team and the boat over the forthcoming weeks but the race is June 30th – July 1st, if you fancy coming and seeing us off –or having a pint with us after the race that would be awesome.

Read more or donate online at: www.paddlathon.co.uk

Friday, May 04, 2007 7:56:27 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, May 03, 2007

I found out this morning that my Joost account has been credited with 999 invites (I kid you not) so feeling all summery I thought others might want to join in the Joost fun and I’d share them around a little.

I’ve only got 999 Joost invites so it’ll have to be strictly on a first come –first served basis (as if I’m ever going to get rid of them all haha).

I don’t want anything in return but if this offer is too generous or you feel I’ve helped you in the past and you’re debted to me, why not click some of the Google Adverts –or even better, make a donation to our 96 mile canoe race (the Cheshire ring race) in aid of the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, Multiple Sclerosis Society, CLIC Sargent and Mac Millan Nurses, I like to think of it of a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” arrangement.

Regardless of whether you want to donate to our worth cause or not, drop me an email (or leave me a comment) and I’ll send an invite over ASAP.

For more information on our 96 mile canoe race (the Cheshire ring race) in aid of charity go to www.paddlathon.co.uk or read my blog posts about the Cheshire ring race.

Thursday, May 03, 2007 4:46:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [11]  | 
# Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm currently thinking about participating in a 90 mile canoe race called the "Cheshire Ring Race" this year (30th June - 1st July 2007). I've always wanted to participate in a longer canoe race (normally I paddle 8 miles) and I've never had the chance to do anything over 20 miles since they stopped the Trans-Pennine Canoe Race the year I was old enough to take part. So when the opportunity to take part in the 90 mile Cheshire Ring Race came about I decided on the spot that's what I would do.

Eventually I would like to take part in the Devizes to Westminster race which assuming this year's training goes to plan, I plan to do in 2008. The Devizes to Westminster canoe race is about 125 miles of canal and river way starting at Devizes (no surprise there then!) and ending at Westminster. The race is usually at the start of April and can either be done non-stop or in stages over 3 days (for girls!).

The first time I do the Devizes to Westminster race I would do the race in a double (with my canoe partner and brother Sam I expect) so I thought the Cheshire Ring Race would be a nice warm up/test event for us (making sure we can keep up the training with work etc). I mentioned the fact I was thinking about it to Paul Rose (my canoe coach and close friend) wondering if he'd be interested in paddling with me in the Cheshire Ring Race and he was also up for taking part.

I then had two possible partners for the race -I was sure Sam would be up for it, so Paul suggested that we take part as a relay team -Paul damaged his back a few years ago while paddling in a Bristol canoe race with me so wasn't sure if he'd manage the full 90 miles. This sounded a very sensible idea. All that was left was to find another person for our relay team which where my other brother Pat steps in to make our team of 4 :)

Every year Paul Rose likes to do an event for charity and as getting sponsored for the race had already been suggested by Sam it was deemed to have enough of a wow factor to be "the event" to sponsor this year. We've agreed to raise money for two (maybe three) charities (which are yet to be confirmed) but are likely to be from:

Each has it's own reasoning and once we've decided which charities we're going to raise for I'll post a little background :) but for now I should get back down the gym!

For anyone else interested in joining in (you're welcome to be on our support crew if you'd rather not paddle -would be great to have you there!) here is the brochure:

  • Cheshire Ring Race 2007 brochure front
  • Cheshire Ring Race 2007 brochure back
Friday, January 12, 2007 1:14:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  |