Basingstoke Canoe Race
On Sunday morning, my alarm went off at the crack of dawn (7:45) to wake me in time to get to the canoe race I was competing in at Basingstoke. And before I go any further, I think I should explain how the world of marathon kayak racing works.
- There are nine divisions – 9 being the slowest, 1 being the super-duper-amazingly-fast fastest.
- Divisions 9-7 race over 4 miles, 6-4 over 8 miles and 3-1 over 12 miles.
- Divisions 6-1 must have a portage. This is where they cruelly make you jump out of your boat, run a certain distance while carrying your boat, then jump back in again. Most of the time these are around locks.
- In every division, there is a K1 (one person per boat) class, and a K2 (two person per boat) class.
- You race against people the same speed as you – age and gender don’t matter.
There, I think that’s everything you need to know to have an understanding of what I do most summer Sundays. So, for this race, I was racing in a K2 with a guy called Dave from our club, in division 4.
(Photo taken by Tamsen Flack)
It was really fun to be racing again after a whole winter of not doing very much, and we actually won our race! This is most certainly because Dave is super quick and has been doing a ton of extra training which managed to more than make up for my total lack of training while I’ve been at uni.
It’s not just the racing bit that I enjoy so much though, it’s the whole atmosphere. All the 4 mile races start in the morning before the 8 and 12 mile ones, so everyone who’s not racing while other people are will stand on the bank and cheer you on and take photos. A win in a race not only makes you a winner, but it spreads through the whole club as they feel a part of it all by watching and encouraging.
It’s not only people from your own club that congratulate you and make you feel good either – after the race, I had to walk up to where everyone was watching at the finish to get the car keys so I could get changed and a woman who I’d never met before and didn’t recognise at all stopped me and said, “You just won that race didn’t you? Well done! You looked really good out there.” That totally made my day. How nice of her to say those things when she didn’t have the foggiest idea who I was. But that’s exactly what the canoeing world is like. Everybody understands each other and encourage and congratulate people if they’ve done well, regardless of anything else. Obviously, there can be a few spats during the races, but what happens on the water stays on the water (most of the time!) and you get your own back by training even harder and flying past them at the next race.
Although I’m concentrating on trying to pass my exams at the moment, the thought that keeps me going is the hugely long summer holiday I’ll have afterwards when I’ll be free to train and race as often as I want.
AND I CAN’T FREAKING WAIT!!