The Raft Race - Sunday 4th October 2015.
On the River Dart, from Buckfastleigh to Totnes
Picture the scene, 7:30 in the morning next to the River Dart, mist in the valley and the water gently passing by… The field littered with rafts of all shapes and sizes, much like the people in their wet suits.Sausages and bacon on the grill with tea and coffee to follow, must be time for the River Dart Struggle.
Our raft builder was looking slightly nervous as we hadn’t even tested the raft. He should think himself lucky as he wasn’t the one going to be sat on it.
Into the water we went, did the cold take your breath away?... That is a definite yes! Start paddling boys, and yes, we had no rhythm or timing or whatever else you need to propel a raft downstream. Not to worry it is only 8.7 miles!
One of the first weir’s that we came to was huge, with four drops in a row... no problem. Off we jumped into the cold water up to our necks, up and over and down we go.
The rocks at the bottom are seriously slippery, and the first casualty off the raft is Jon, that was where we first started laughing (and thankfully it carried on for the whole journey). With more weirs and slippery rocks all the way down, our knees and ankles were taking a real hammering, our raft however was as solid as a rock.
I don’t think we passed one raft on the way down but those that passed us had had a real drowning and there was plenty of shouting.
A well needed soup stop about half way was really welcomed (and a little break for the arms and legs). With Marshalls posted all the way down, we were asking how far we had left to go. To tell you the answer was disappointing would be and understatement, we really had to dig in at times as it seemed we were getting no where.
Once into the lower section of the race the water became much deeper and this is when we really started to hurt. Our raft, as super strong as it was, was not streamlined at all and we struggled to make any progress. Everyone was feeling the pain; arms, back and legs were all hurting, along with the odd touch of cramp. Our spirits remained high and it was great to see family members and work colleagues giving support at the end.
We finished in 5 hours and 37 minutes. No record breaker, that’s for sure, but it’s the target to beat for next year. Stevie’s answer to how he felt it went summed it up for me…. He replied “it was emotional”.
In fact we all had our little 'things' to take away, Jon was running his own raft race, as he kept falling over and floating down on his own. My shoe laces kept coming undone and for some unknown reason I was really worried about it. Paul had the worst rhythm and timing known to man. We still wonder if he can count to more than two. Stevie tells the worst pirate joke ever, and boy did he tell it….!!!
A great bunch of lads, we all put in a massive effort that day.
We are all well up for next year (with the hope that some of our colleagues will join us).
Print Team Leader