Ibbo's Big Paddle!
On easter weekend my crew and I assembled to set off on our 24 hour paddle around the Nottingham loop, raising money for the mental health charity Mind. With months of truing under our belts, we felt as ready as we could be for what we knew would be a tough paddle.
My crew consisted of Del Read, one of the most prominent ladies whitewater kayakers in the country, Sam Valman, a GB squad freestyle kayaker, Matt Stephenson, another GB freestyle paddler, and me, GB freestyle paddler and events organiser. Not a bad set of paddlers by a long stretch, but by no means a flat water crew. That is what made this challenge interesting.
We set off at 9am on the 3rd April, a fairly still day but with a few clouds over head. The start felt just like what had become a regular Saturday morning. Each lap taking about 2 hours 45 minutes to complete the 15.5km lap, we were making good time. On lap three we had some friends join the four of us on the water, which provided some fresh conversation. The sun even broke through the clouds to give us a wonderful afternoons paddle.
Lap four is when we began to see the sun set, and the temperatures drop. The clear skies gave us a wonderful view of the starts but did not help with the cold. Our only saving grace was the distinct lack of wind. Lap five took us up to midnight which felt like a big marker, Saturday was done and we were onto Sunday!
The temperatures kept dropping with every lap. Each time we finished a lap and grabbed some food we saw the cars being covered in more and more ice. A few changes of kit, extra thermals, and pogies for the hands got us through though! It was also so boosting to see people still coming out for every lap, offering food and hot drinks on the bank and jumping on the freezing river and canal with us. I am not sure any of us would have got through the night without the support!
Lap eight, the final lap. It began in the dark with Crispy Dave joining us. Crispy had been swotting up on his bird knowledge ready to give us a lesson as the birds woke at dawn, keeping us entertained. We couldn’t have asked for a better sunrise, the mist from the water made the colours of the sun magical. The slight warmth of the sun as it hit our faces gave us a new burst of energy. We were so close to the end!
Paddling up the final stretch of the canal was a moment we won’t forget. We were met by a group of friends at the last bridge, who followed us up to the final get off where a crowd of our friends and family were cheering us on. What a moment! We paddled up to the top side by side, all of us grinning ear to ear. WE DID IT!!
A few very quick photos and we hopped off, got into our warm dry clothes and said some quick thank yous and goodbyes. Home, shower, bed! But we knew we couldn’t end it like that, so in the afternoon (after a very good nap) we met back up for a glass of fizzy, debrief, and celebration of what we accomplished.
All of our hard work and persistence wasn’t just to make us feel good, or pass the time. It was all in order to raise money for the mental health charity Mind. During the lockdowns and pandemic our mental health has been under a lot of stress, and is important. Mind is a brilliant charity that provides help to anyone who feels they need it, no matter how big or small problems seem. Hundreds of amazing people donated to our page, helping us smash our £2000 target, reaching over £4000!! And the page is still open to donate now! .CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
Lastly, we have to say a huge thank you to everyone that supported us. Friends, family, strangers, and kayaking kit manufacturers. Anyone who paddled with us, brought us food, send good messages, and donated to the page. THANK YOU!!!
All Photo & Video credits to Tom Clare of Tom Clare Photography!