Royal Marine veterans Jonathan White and Lee Waters - Photo courtesy of Nicki Douglas-Lee
Royal Marines

Injured Military Veterans Defy Weather To Finish 125 Mile Canoe Race

Two former Royal Marines injured in Afghanistan finished the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race on Easter Sunday

Royal Marine veterans Jonathan White and Lee Waters - Photo courtesy of Nicki Douglas-Lee
Royal Marine veterans Jonathan White and Lee Waters - Photo courtesy of Nicki Douglas-Lee

Jonathan White and Lee Waters defied scorching temperatures on Easter Saturday to complete the 125 mile canoe race, which usually defeats around one third of the 200 crews that attempt the non-stop race every year.

The pair beat many able-bodied crews to reach London in just 26 hours 27 minutes 03 seconds.

Race Director James Treadgold said:

“Both Lee and Jon are extremely inspiring men. Their completion of the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race shows their indomitable spirit and it is a tribute to them and to the Royal Marines that they met the DW challenge head on – and succeeded.”

White, who lost both legs and his right arm at the elbow after being injured by an IED on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan and Waters, who suffered gunshot wounds in an insurgent attack, previously completed the race in 2012.

This time, however, the conditions were more arduous due to the heat and there was less flow - essential for a quick time on what is often described as one of the world’s toughest endurance events.

The 2019 race was won by a mixed civilian crew, Alexandra Lane and Dan Seagrove from Reading Canoe Club, who saw off international athletes from around the world to score a sensational victory.

Competitors start their race at Devizes in Wiltshire on Easter Saturday but must time their departure to reach Teddington Lock in South-West London in time for the early morning ebb tide into London on Easter Sunday.

Royal Marines crew 435, Joe Maynard and Chris Maynard, paddling a folding kayak
Royal Marines crew 435, Joe Maynard and Chris Maynard, paddling a folding kayak - they finished in 25 hours 23 minutes

The first three boats to cross the line:

  1. Alexandra Lane and Dan Seaford, Reading Canoe Club 18:01:58
  2. Richard Hendron and Aaron Jordan, Richmond and Maidstone Canoe Clubs 18:19:06
  3. Alex Burt and Paul Hayes, Newbury Canoe Club 18:38:07

About the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race

Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race is the world’s longest non-stop canoe race.

The race started as a wager in a pub in 1948. Seventy years on, it has grown into a firm fixture in the world's canoeing calendar that is open to all comers.

Frequently referred to simply as DW, the race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire, and follows the Kennet & Avon Canal to join the Thames at Reading. The finish is in the heart of London at Westminster Bridge.

Covering the 125-mile distance in kayaks or canoes, DW is one of the toughest endurance events in the world and is open to anyone with the necessary determination and commitment to train for it.

DW takes place over the Easter Weekend every year with more than 500 volunteers and organisations, including the Canal and Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and the Port of London Authority, which give their support to DW.