The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon

A little over 35 hours is how long it took David Burton and Mattie Morgan to paddle 125 miles from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster in central London – a hugely demanding and impressive feat. We are incredibly grateful for their dedication to the Foundation. David shares their story below:

Setting off

The Race

Amazingly, almost unbelievably…I am absolutely delighted to report that Mattie and I made it to Westminster!

We are incredibly pleased, proud and relieved all rolled in one.  It’s still sinking in. 

114th out of 145 starters, with 31 retirees. 

The world’s longest non-stop canoe race – 125 miles, 77 locks, paddled non stop.  It is billed as one of the toughest endurance events of its kind.  I had quite forgotten that bit…  It requires close teamwork between both the crew and the support group, and huge amounts of empathy, understanding and determination.  Without it you won’t succeed. 

We hit all the cut off times down the course this time, but were slowed down by the conditions and just missed the second tide window at Teddington on Easter Day.  Which meant we had to wait until 0610 on the Monday to set off again on the next tide, arriving at Westminster Bridge at 0900.

Conditions were pretty tough – really hot during the day and really cold at night, thick mist and fog, no flow on the Thames and really rough water just before Westminster.  Many paddlers pulled out or were pulled out of the race for a host of reasons.  And incredibly sadly, as you may have read in the press, one paddler died shortly after reaching the finish. 

Our time was officially circa 44:24:57…. But it was actually circa 35 hours paddling for us without the short Teddington stop-over (which put us ahead of some of the other non-stop finishers!).

The Finish and the Team

Crossing the finish line

This was an amazing experience overall on so many levels – pretty emotional at the finish; a mere 34 years after my first finish with my very good friend Robert Martine who was there at the finish this time too.

We could not have done it without our amazing and ever patient support group. 

Or without Simon Jones (who amongst other things is in charge of kayaking at Bryanston School and has been incredibly supportive of us throughout) whose amazing no-nonsense and positive attitude towards the end helped push us to hit the final cut off time. 

Or without the friends and family who kept sending messages throughout and who also popped up from time to time along the course – even if sometimes we didn’t actually see or hear them because we were so tired!  

And I certainly could not have done it without my very long suffering, but still very good friend, Mattie Morgan, who’s own determination and positive “can do” attitude helped pull me through on many occasions.