The 100 mile canoe test was conceived as a personal challenge for youngsters coming together in teams from youth clubs all over the country. Over four days the participants call on their skill, determination and stamina to complete the 100 mile route. The achievement brings a sense of personal fulfilment and team camaraderie that will remain with them for life.
2017 sees the event will running for its 55th year and it will take place on the River Wye over the late May bank holiday. The event was originally developed for the network of youth clubs who are part of what was the National Association of Boys’ Clubs. This year participation in the event has been opened up, through partnership with British Canoeing, to welcome all canoe clubs.
The ‘Test’ alternates each year, between the Wye, Severn and Trent. In 2016 it was on a very windy Trent. One of the younger teams taking part struggled and was unable to complete the last day past Newark because of the waves being blown down the river towards them. Such is the determination of youngsters taking part, the team came back later in the year and completed their 100miles!
Teams will arrive at Fownhope on Friday evening (26th May) and set up base camp. On Saturday morning a procession of mini buses and trailers leave for the start at Glasbury and the first leg of paddling.
Each day Safety Marshall's set off first, scout the river for hazards and set up any necessary cover. The teams will paddle as a unit with, their own leaders, sometimes passing other groups and socialising.
Groups are checked on and off the water and their progress is monitored and supported by a team of both water and land marshals. At the end of the day the boats are stowed on the bank and the groups are bussed back to base camp. Each evening there is a briefing meeting for team leaders.
The event ends on Tuesday lunchtime at Monmouth Rowing Club with a mass paddle over the last mile involving all of the teams. During the four days the youngsters will paddle Symonds Yat twice (by popular demand).
PaddlePlus work closely with Hinckley Water Activities Club, Young LeicesterShire and Young Bristol to provide a strong, safe framework within which the event is staged. All of these organisations have a long association with the Challenge and have experience of delivering this and other paddling events.
Each team needs a competent leader(s) on the water, a driver and base camp support. The recommended minimum age is 14 yrs, however, it is down to the discretion of the canoe leader as to the ability of younger members to participate in the test. Practice before the event will make it more achievable and enjoyable for all concerned. Any craft can be used and teams find a mix of solo and tandem canoes and kayaks work best to keep paddlers motivated.
The cost is kept to a minimum, each canoeist pays £40 for camping, safety cover, medals and certificates. Team leaders are not charged. Each group is responsible for their own food and transport. Many groups use the training paddles leading up to the event to raise some funds to cover some of the costs.
We will be using Social Media to engage with young people as they prepare and train for the event. To do this we have changed the registration process and ask all groups wishing to be involved to send a deposit by the end of February to book a team place. This will enable us to connect you to the media pages and support your preparation.
Any affiliated youth groups that would like assistance or advice with their preparation and paddling skills can be offered links to local canoe clubs and coaches to help them get the best out of the experience. This includes training in qualifications, local contacts and developing skills at all levels.
The 100 Mile Canoe Test takes place during National Go Canoeing Week. Any miles paddled during the week can be entered at gocanoeingweek.org.uk and will count towards the the grand total for the week.