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Roxanna and Claudia prepare to paddle for MS

Roxanna Colebatch and Claudia Cox

This is a guest blog from fundraisers Roxanna Colebatch and Claudia Cox (pictured)

We are two 18 year-old A level students, Roxanna Colebatch and Claudia Cox, who have taken on one of the most demanding endurance events in support of the MS Trust. Having looked at the work of the Trust we decided to undertake the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (“DW”) in support of the MS Trust and all the inspirational work it does.

The training

Having never been in a kayak before, the training has been an adventure on which we have constantly been learning. One of the coldest and lowest points of our training was the first time we paddled the 13.5 miles from Bedwyn to Newbury in January. At the time the canal was frozen over in places, it was snowing and there was snow underfoot. About 0.5 mile into the training session we capsized into the freezing water… despite this setback we continued on our way, running parts of the course along the tow-path because some of the ice was just too thick to paddle through, finally finishing in Newbury just after dark, about as cold as we hope we will ever get!

Apart from the ice and the occasional snow, one of the most terrifying obstacles is the swans! Having been chased a few times it is safe to say that the sound of a swan’s wings beating against the water in pursuit of a small red kayak will always raise the goose bumps!

In order to prepare ourselves for the main DW event we have been taking part in the “Waterside Series of Canoe Races” which covers much of the same water as the early stages of DW along the Kennet and Avon Canal. You can see footage from the first two races on our web page and after the last race on 17th March we will be updating the webpage again so you can follow our progress there.

Four days, 125 miles

The Devizes to Westminster race itself is a commitment of 125 miles, 77 portages (where we have to get out and carry the boat around an obstacle such as a lock or a weir) and takes place over four days (29 March – 1 April 2013), camping along the way. After eight months of training in snow, ice and whatever else the weather brings we will arrive under Westminster Bridge early on Easter Monday.

The neurological condition of MS distresses the lives of those with it as well as those who live close to them. Claudia’s Great Granny began with experiencing muscle stiffness and spasms which soon meant she had difficulty walking. As the other symptoms, such as dizziness and fatigue, started to become more evident she was unable to look after herself and needed support from people such as those who work within the MS Trust.

by Roxanna Colebatch and Claudia Cox

If you would like to help Roxanna and Claudia reach their £5,000 target by sponsoring them, please visit their online fundraising page.

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