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Chris Sze claims gold medal on last appearance for Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club at Bedford Hasler Marathon





Chris Sze claimed a gold medal on what was probably his last appearance for Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club.

The experienced paddler, who is moving away from the town after nine years representing the club, teamed up with Ben Tubby to win the Division Four doubles in the Bedford Hasler Marathon.

They completed the eight-mile course, comprising several laps of the Great Ouse, in 1hr 10min 3sec.

Chris Sze, front, and Ben Tubby set off after a portage
Chris Sze, front, and Ben Tubby set off after a portage

The course included two false portages. Most marathon races include portages around locks or weirs, but where there are no natural obstacles, organisers instead mark out an arbitrary point at which competitors must disembark, run along the bank and get back into their boats.

Finishing just behind Sze and Tubby in the race was Stortford’s Joao Spinola and his partner Charlotte Ellis, of Leighton Buzzard CC, as they clocked 1:11.46 to take silver.

On the same course were Kerstin Queeney and Jasper Kirtland, with the latter taking part in his first race at this distance having been promoted. Nevertheless, the pair’s time of 1:17.13 earned them bronze medals in Division 5 doubles.

Joao Spinola and Charlotte Ellis portaging
Joao Spinola and Charlotte Ellis portaging

On the 12-mile course, with four portages, Stortford won more silver medals when David Gurney and Eddie Kirtland finished second (1:46.47).

Karen Bradley and Christine Meula took silver medals on the four-mile course with their time of 44min 53sec (Division Eight doubles) while Jacque and Dave Cayford won bronze in Division Seven doubles (48.35).

Amongst the club’s singles paddlers it was Jamie Bond who shone. Despite the unfamiliar conditions of a wide river made choppy by the wind, he was able to recover from a poor start in Division Nine and, near the finish, the lead paddler capsized so that Bond’s excellent time of 47.38 was rewarded with a bronze medal.

Kerry Tubby was going well in Division Seven on the four-mile course until, near the end of the race, a gust of wind sent her for an unscheduled swim. The high river walls made it difficult to climb out, so she lost considerable time before crossing the finish line in 51.32.

Some of the Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club members in Bedford
Some of the Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club members in Bedford

Joe Fitzpatrick finished in 1:48.37 on the 12-mile course, making him the third fastest singles paddler at the event and securing him a bronze medal in Division Two.



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