Friends take on 125-mile canoe marathon for charity

Friends take on 125-mile canoe marathon for charity

Sophie Flowers

Friends take on 125-mile canoe marathon for charity

Banter over a bar has led two friends to take on a 125-mile canoe 'marathon' for a children's charity.

Mark Fish, 49, was drinking in the Old Swan Uppers, in Cookham, when he was chatting to former barman and darts player Luke Clarke, 20.

A pint or two later and the pair had signed up to do the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon.

Setting off from Wiltshire today they will take four days to complete the journey, with overnight stays at Newbury, Longridge and Ham, before arriving at Westminster on Easter Monday.

Mark, of Court Road, said: "I used to run marathons but I'm 50 this year so I wanted to do this instead. It's a bit like the marathon, the people at the front are extremely serious and then there's people like us at the back doing it in four days."

He said the biggest challenge for the pair will be the portage because canoes aren't allowed in locks. It means Mark and Luke will have to climb out and carry their boat around each of the 27 locks on their route.

"It's fine if you've got a fancy fibreglass one but not a Pocahontas style one like we've got, it's fairly heavy," said Mark, who is operations director for health club operator Fit Space.

His wife Helen will be their support crew driving from lock to lock and supplying them with much- needed tea and cake along the way.

Luke, of Whurley Way, is now barman at the Craufurd Arms, in Gringer Hill, and plays for Maidenhead Premier Darts League and Bucks Superleague as well as representing Berkshire in the under-21s tournaments.

The pair are hoping to raise more than £1,000 for Amersham-based DreamFlight, a charity which pays for seriously ill and disabled children to go on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida.

Mark, who plays for Odney Cricket Club and Cookham Dean CC Seniors added: "It's a struggle for them with lots of cost increases recently. It's a great charity and it's fairly local."

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