Saturday, 5 July 2014

Cheshire Ring Race - 28th-29th June 2014

The Cheshire Ring Race (CRR) has been held annually since 1977, and follows a 96 mile route around the Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Ashton and Rochdale, Bridgewater and Trent and Mersey canals. The scenery ranges from wonderful countryside through to the industrial suburbs of Manchester and the eclectic bar areas of central Manchester's Canal Street.

Teams complete the circuit in many formats - individuals can paddle all the way, or teams of different sizes paddle it as a relay, changing over at recognised points. I was invited to join a team of four K1s paddling as a relay.

The only parts of the route that I knew were my local stretch of the Macclesfield canal, plus the route from Preston Brook back into Manchester on the Bridgewater canal. So since as paddler 2, I had four compulsory tunnel portages to negotiate, I made a few trips to inspect these beforehand.

Our team started at about 10:45am, and paddled through the night finishing just after 5am, in a time of 18 hours 20 minutes and 40 seconds.

Alan Armstrong sets off on leg 4
I paddled five legs:
  • Leg 2 - Marple Top Lock to Apethorn Lane - 5 miles, 2 tunnels, 16 locks
  • Leg 6 - Marsland Road, Sale to Burford Lane Underbridge, Lymm - 6.75 miles
  • Leg 10 - Valley Farm, Little Leigh to Broken Cross - 7.25 miles, 2 tunnels
  • Leg 14 - Rhode Heath to Red Bull, Hardings Wood - 2.25 miles, 10 locks
  • Leg 18 - Bridge 44, Bullocks Lane to Bridge 29, Clarke Lane - 3.25 miles

Kayaks in Ducie Street, central Manchesre
Alan Armstrong finishing leg 4
Alan Tonge sprints for the finish at 5am Sunday
I wasn't concerned too much about the paddling, I knew I had the distance in me, but logistics of finding car parking spots, handing car keys over, and a sore seat made for a fun day (and night). With the start times staggered to try to get the teams to finish roughly at the same time meant that it was also a very sociable event as everyone was meeting up at the various changeover points.

The team - Alan Armstrong, myself, Andrew Millest and Alan Tonge

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