Steve Redgrave and three other Olymians drop out of the DW.

The boat race wasn't the only sporting event on the Thames last bank holiday weekend. Steve Redgrave also took to the water. This time in a kayak with rather less success.

Sir Steve Redgrave pulls out of Devizes to Westminster canoe race

He famously once said live on television that anyone who caught him getting back in a boat should shoot him.

And last night Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave might just have wished someone had carried out his gallows humour wish made in the aftermath of a famous Olympic victory.

During a glittering rowing career that saw him win five successive Olympic gold medals there were no opponents on water who could defeat Sir Steve. But switching to a canoe for what is viewed as one of the world’s toughest endurance race proved a challenge too far even for Britain’s greatest Olympian.

Around one third of those who enter the annual Devizes to Westminster canoe race fail to finish.

And yesterday, perhaps surprisingly, the Olympic oarsman joined their ranks, blaming “tiredness”.

Race spokesman, Peter Hutchinson, said the Olympian and partner Roger Hatfield “retired” from the race at 2.20am.

The pair had travelled about 87 miles (140km) along the 125-mile (200km) route and had reached Old Windsor Lock in Berkshire.

The race begins in Devizes, Wiltshire, on the Kennet and Avon Canal and traditionally takes place at Easter, heading for the Thames and a finish at Westminster Bridge near the Houses of Parliament.

Contestants pass through 77 locks and at many of them they have to lift their canoes out of the water and carry them around the locks.

Sir Steve, 50, was one of four Olympians taking part in the race including Ben Hunt-Davis, Sarah Winckless and Kate MacKenzie, all of whom failed to finish.

Sir Steve, winner of gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games between 1984 and 2000 at Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney said just before setting off that he was not “looking forward” to it.

“It’s a funny sort of race. I’m used to quick blasts of 2,000 metres,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the training but I’m not looking forward to the race.”

Sir Steve, who only took up canoeing last year, said the furthest he had paddled before was 55 miles.

Before retiring he had been expected to reach Westminster Bridge at about 7am yesterday. There are five classes in the event including a non-stop version of the race, which is the longest non-stop canoe race in the world.

By yesterday afternoon 40 crews had retired with 87 of the 120 “through team” completing.

“It has been very wet and cold on the approach to London and dry cold before,” a spokesman said. The prolonged dry spell also made for slow waters at some stages making the canoeing even more gruelling.

The current record time for completing the race is 15 hours and 34 minutes, set in 1979 by Tim Cornish and Brian Greenham. The event was won by Richard Hendron and James King for the third year in a row.

Sir Steve Redgrave pulls out of Devizes to Westminster canoe race | This is Bath

Says a lot about the event.
I started training for this some years back but broke a rib which stymied it, and haven't had time since due to work. But you have to be dedicated. I was in contact with the REs and they kindly sent me their training schedule which is two months of total pain by the look.

The RM send their lads to do it as well, and I think it is an SBS thing. Wasn't it Paddy Ashdown who after completing it said that he only knew of one person in history who had spent a more miserable easter.

Worth doing I think.

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