Kayakers win gruelling canoe challenge

Alice in action at Southampton
Alice in action at Southampton

A WOODFORD Halse kayaker has won one of the world’s most gruelling international canoe races.

Alice Murphy, from Woodford Halse with Dan Golder, won the mixed doubles event in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon held over the Easter weekend.

Known, with good reason, as “the Canoeists’ Everest, the “DW” requires competitors to paddle non-stop for up to 30 hours to complete the 125-mile course.

It is considered by some to be the hardest endurance event in any sport in Britain.

This year the extreme temperatures made the event even tougher, with more than 25 per cent of the competitors failing to finish.

But Alice and Dan completed the course in 21 hours, two minutes and 46 seconds to win by more than three quarters of an hour.

Their time would have been even faster had heavy fog not descended in the early hours of the morning, for they had started very strongly from Devizes and were well inside the top 10 in the overall classification.

But the fog meant they had to paddle very cautiously on the Thames to avoid being washed over weirs, and this lost them perhaps an hour before it lifted.

They still finished 13th in the overall classification beating many of the top all-male crews.

At the age of 18, Alice is one of the youngest people to complete the race and possibly the youngest ever though this is yet to be confirmed.

Younger paddlers than this have to compete in a separate race staggered over four days.