DW 2014 – Day 2. Newbury to Marlow – 36 miles, 31 portages

By the time I got to Newbury at 07:15, Isobel had already left and a very quiet and focused Megan was “champing at the bit” until the starters allowed her to get going at 07:30. There was no sight of Sam or even her boat, and Tom and Robert were somewhere along the course.

Another warm and sunny day in store, but the head wind was ever persistent.

I chased after Megan on the bike and watched the portages being effected with ruthless efficiency as she pursued Isobel. As we had not paddled the Waterside B course, the route was not so familiar.

Megan at work

Megan at work


But there is a limit to how hard one can keep pushing and Megan reached it just before Aldermaston, when cramps in her legs started to cause enormous discomfort. The lock cut into Aldermaston was agony as she twisted and turned in the seat to try and ease the pain. On the bank I felt absolutely useless, and phoned ahead to the team to ascertain what could be done.
Megan being re-built

Megan being re-built


At Tyle Mill she was anointed with ibuprofen gel, and a plastic bag was put over the seat to allow more movement. It worked! Soon she was back up to full speed and I was very relieved.

In the meantime, Isobel was making good progress being supported once again, by Ruth on her bike.

Isobel before Fobney

Isobel before Fobney


Soon they were together, and after some serious chatting, it was back to the job in hand.
Back to the job in-hand

Back to the job in-hand


It was on to Fobney where Megan took the muddy route under the bridge…….
Fobney - the muddy route

Fobney – the muddy route


……. and Isobel took a more unorthodox route and avoided the mud.
Fobney - the clean route

Fobney – the clean route


Onwards through Reading to meet the Thames and the compulsory portage at Dreadnought Reach.
Megan taking on sustenance

Megan taking on sustenance


It was all going fine until Marsh when Isobel hit-the-wall BIG TIME!
Isobel being brought back from the brink

Isobel being brought back from the brink


I have seen this scenario on a number of occasions and it does cause concern when the athlete suddenly losses all strength and coordination. Isobel struggled to carry the boat, was dizzy and her speech slurred. There is only one solution, eat like crazy! Isobel grabbed everything on offer and a combination of gels, energy bars and sandwiches soon saw her back to normal.

Ruth was back on the bike and escorted Isobel along the Henley straight and once again, I chased after Megan.

I hate the Henley straight! It can be calm and flat, or have wind and waves like “the North sea”! Today was an energy-sapping head wind with irritating waves.

Soon it was out of the way (until next year!) and we were focussed on the next portage where Howard, on request from Isobel, had secured some chocolate biscuits.

Chocky bickie anyone?

Chocky bickie anyone?


We were relieved to get day 2 over with and the girls started their recovery with a protein shake.
We just can't get enough of the recovery drink!

We just can’t get enough of the recovery drink!


After the second day, the C1 times were:

750 Megan Middleton, Fowey River CC – 13:28:09
732 Samantha Rippington, Brigidine School – 13:51:14
723 Isobel Smith, Basingstoke Canal CC – 14:51:04
708 Tom Barnard, Independent – 15:50:58
754 Robert Campbell, Bedford School – 16:09:51

Megan had taken the lead by 23 minutes, but Isobel’s “wobbly” meant she was now a whole hour down on Sam.

But this is DW, and the “fat lady” hadn’t even cleared her throat.

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