The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race is held annually over Easter weekend the first 52 miles of which are on the Kennet & Avon Canal through Wiltshire.
This marathon race can be undertaken in kayaks or open canoes. The course distance is a total of 125 miles (201 km) and starts at Devizes Wharf
and ends at Westminster Bridge in Central London on the River Thames.
The marathon race crosses The Heart of Wiltshire
, through Pewsey
and beyond the villages of Great and Little Bedwyn on the Wiltshire border to Hungerford, Newbury and Teddington Lock on the River Thames.
There are 5 classes within the event one of which is non-stop from start to finish, the rest being run over 4 days. The event is extremely challenging (the competitors have to carry their boats around 77 locks) the final part of which is over the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill and stamina and crews who have to be extremely fit to compete. Beginners require an absolute minimum of six months training and familiarisation with the course beforehand. The race is at the risk of the competitors, bearing in mind that the weather over Easter is often cold and the water temperatures even colder, and safety training and survival skills are essential.
The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race is increasingly becoming an international event and attracts racers from all over the world.
As an indication of how tough the race is in 2011 world champion kayakers Ben Brown and Ivan Lawler attempted to beat the record but retired with injury and strong headwinds after 9 hours and 51 minutes. The race is organised entirely by volunteers. Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race