Easter Sunday is the pinnacle of the long bank holiday weekend and that’s reason enough to have a lie in and do absolutely nothing (other than eating). Not so for for three heroic young Royal paddlers who took on the Easter Half Marathon.
For Andrew Barton (under 16), Zoe Clark (under 15) and Ed Hubbard (under 12), Easter Sunday meant a long grind along the Wey navigation.
Starting at Wey Kayak Club, the Half Marathon covers a sizeable stretch of the Wey navigation. The race finishing just at Thames Lock, just above Elmbridge Canoe Club, where the Wey navigation joins the Thames. The 13 mile race also included 11 portages and a seemingly unlimited number of natural hurdles too (rain, hail, mud, more mud). But at least there was some sun for our racers to enjoy along the way.
Zoe had an almost perfect race, getting into the first portage the quickest and over the other side of the lock immaculately. It looked like a ninja was helping her! Getting away by herself, with still over 12 miles to go, Zoe slowed up to wait for some company in this gruelling race.
12 miles laters, and after working with a competitor from Addlestone Canoe Club, Zoe picked up the pace as the finish line came into sight. She steamed away from her competitor in the last 500 meters and won the Under 15 girls race in a time of 1.58.38. She clinched the win by 6 seconds – a sizeable margin for such a late sprint!
A long way travelled
A half marathon is a long way for any athlete. But for a man as young as Ed Hubbard, completing a 13 mile race in considerable achievement. Racing in the Under 12 category, Ed’s race saw him paddle three times further than in any race he has ever done!
Ed started first in his category and had clear water to settle into the race and establish a slick portaging routine. With his dad David following him alongside on the bike, with a bundle of supplies, Ed chopped through most of the race on his own, with no competitors for company. Somehow, he managed to keep any sign of exhaustion at bay until the 10 mile point. Ed persevered through the ever changing weather conditions at the end of the race and finished in 2.20.26, placing him on the 3rd spot of the podium. Congratulations Ed!
Climbing through the field
Andrew was a man on a mission. He chased down the earlier starters, rested, sped away. Repeat. And repeat again. This sound tactic saw him climb up through the field, until an unfortunate capsize near send. Following the capsize, Andrew he opted for the ‘speed up to warm up’ method and ploughed on quickly, finishing 2nd in 1.56.55.
Until next year…
Congratulations to all three Royal paddlers taking on this immense challenge and battled the elements for the prize of an Easter egg. It was inspiring to watch and support! Massive thanks are also due to parents and supporters on bikes and cars.
1st Zoe Clark (U15) 1:58:38
2nd Andrew Barton (U16) 1:56:55
3rd Ed Hubbard (U12) 2:20:26