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125-mile kayak race from Devizes to Westminster is just the warm up for Mick

A 125-mile non-stop kayak race is certainly not everyone’s idea of fun - but Mick Dawson can’t wait to take on the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe race.

Boston-born Mick, 50, and his pal Steve Grenham are planning to raise £100,000 for charity by circumnavigating the Falkland Islands in February next year.

But to make sure they are in the best condition possible they are preparing a number of warm-up challenges.

The first of those will be the Devizes to Westminster event, which demands the duo take part in two days and one night of continuous paddling.

And after months of intense training, Mick and Steve believe the estimated 35-hour slog will be a good incentive to see just how prepared they will be for the 2016 challenge.

“We’ve been in training for a while, but this is our first project and it’ll be a great test of ourselves,” Mick told The Standard.

“After that we’ll be in a position to judge just where we are.

“We’re novices, but we’re going along to be competitive.”

Mick may well be a kayak novice, but he is no stranger to the water.

In 2009 he and teammate Chris Martin became the first people to row the Pacific Ocean unaided.

Eight years earlier, Mick and his brother, also named Steve, rowed the Atlantic in 70 days.

He first met Steve Grenham when the two teenage Royal Marines fought in the 1982 Falklands conflict.

Last year in 2013 the pair returned to the islands and the seeds for their charity expedition - named the Cockleshell Endeavour, in honour of 1942’s Operation Frankton, which saw Marines paddle canoes into Nazi-occupied Bordeaux to raid the city’s vital harbour complex - were sewn.

Amazingly, Mick and Steve have been donated a two-man klepper kayak similar to the ones used in that Second World War raid, and they will be using that to take on the Kennet and Avon Canal and River Thames which link Devizes and Westminster.

The route - which they will begin on April 3 - includes several portages which competitors will be unable to paddle.

Meaning Mick and Steve will have to occasionally run with their kayak from one point to another - which will further test them physically.

“It’s a basic but traditional kayak in the tradition of the Cockleshell Heroes,” Mick added.

“We’re doing it as a double, so there are no stopovers. It’ll be two days and one night.

“We will have to get out of the kayak and carry it, hopefully, run with it, to get back in the water again.

“It’s a heavy bit of equipment, so it won’t be easy. There are plenty of stops, but they won’t be places to rest.”

The Cockleshell Endeavour will be raising money for a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) charity.

Steve has battled with the disorder, which is believed to stem from his time serving in the Falklands and Northern Ireland.


 


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