On the 10th September 2016, seven members of Wales URNU and two training officers set out on a 35-mile endurance race along the Monmouthshire, Brecon, and Abergavenny canal. We entered a competitive team and a social team. The first part of the challenge was a 5-mile canoe section which started at a drizzly Pontymoile. Both teams started out strongly despite of the weather (and a slight lack of canoeing experience) and finished within several minutes of each other. A strong start for Wales URNU.
Lieutenant Roberts, our team manager and motivator was waiting for us at the next stage with bikes, ready to take on the 17-mile mountain bike stage. This proved to be our strongest stage, powering along the canal side. It being flat may have been the reason for this being our strongest stage, however we all preferred to put it down to skill and practice. During this stage the heavens opened and despite being soaked through we all continued and put in good times despite mud constantly flying in our faces and encountering a few low bridges which posed a slight problem for the competitive team who had an average height of about 6ft. Ninety minutes and 17 miles later we reached Llangynider where we were met by Lieutenant Roberts who gave us all some much-needed refreshments which had been kindly provided by Mrs Roberts. The flapjacks were especially popular!
After fuelling ourselves with Soreen and dried fruit we set out on the 11-mile run which wasn’t our strongest event, perhaps from a slight lack of training, but each team supported each other, we even witnessed the slowest overtake as we spent 10 minutes alongside another team as they tried to run past us, but were also equally as tired. Finally, after bad weather all day the sun had started to come out and we were welcomed at the finish line two hours later by glorious sunshine, with the competitive team finishing 7th out of 16. After 35 miles, we were certainly all ready to go back home for tea and medals.
Overall the day was a fantastic experience with everyone having enjoyed themselves. Special thanks go out to Lieutenant Roberts for giving up his day to support us, and making sure we were at the right places with the right kit and keeping us well fed and watered! Thanks also go out to Navs who also gave up his day to support us all.
Wales URNU will be returning for the Canalathon 2017.