2011 April - The Epic Tri

So why would a national fund-raising challenge have a connection with Burton? The answer is the village pub! When Ann France of the Kings Arms, Burton, heard on Facebook about a John O'Groats to Lands End cycle challenge passing through the village on Thursday 21 April, she promptly rang the support team and offered them food in the pub. The support team accepted with alacrity (perhaps they'd heard how good the Kings Arms food is?) and at around 9pm the support team vehicles pulled up outside the pub on Main Street, where a small group awaited the arrival of the mad cyclists themselves. 

The two cyclists Ant Emmet and Bruce Duncan along with their support team took over half of the pool room at the Kings Arms, much to the bemusement of the Sports Committee who were meeting in the other half, and proceeded to consume vast quantities of liquids along with the Kings Arms' excellent sausage and mash, whilst having their legs and shoulders massaged and treated by their team of physios, including Burton's very own Graham Theobald.

What made this trip somewhat different to others was firstly that it was being done on a tandem by Ant Emmet and Bruce Duncan - two of this country's top adventure athletes. And secondly, before setting off from John O'Groats on Wednesday 20 April they had already completed the Bob Graham Round, a gruelling trek over 65 miles, 42 mountain tops, overall a 27,000ft climb, all in less than 24 hours on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 April. 

On arrival at Lands End on Saturday 23 April at just after 2 in the afternoon - having cycled 874 miles, being rather saddle-sore and some 16 hours behind schedule after various adventures with the bike itself and having very nearly being driven off the road by a car just a few miles short of their destination - they had a short time to catch their breath and be photographed before being hustled into the support van heading on to stage 3 of their epic challenge. 

Stage 3 is the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, which takes place each Easter on the Kennet and Avon canal and the river Thames. Ant and Bruce are entered in the senior doubles section, with a purpose-built kayak created by Fyne Boat Kits of Burneside, near Kendal. The Devizes to Westminster isn't just a canoe race though: as it travels the canal the paddlers have to get out of their craft, get it out of the water, and carry it around 77 lock gates - obstacle to navigation which are called portages by the teams - and then get it back afloat again with them in it and paddle to the next portage point. On reaching the river Thames the crews have to catch the tide at Teddington Lock to aid their progress downstream to Westminster. The Devizes to Westminster course covers 125 miles and has to be done in less than 24 hours. By this time Ant and Bruce will have been on the go almost non-stop for 6 whole days, and at the time of writing have managed to raise £13,887.63 of their £25,000 target for Cancer Research UK. 

Barry Morgan took some photos of the visit which you can see here. To see larger versions click on an image. You can also navigate through the images using the Left and Right arrows on the larger versions.

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