Saturday 14th October saw the first National Ladies Training Day since 2015. It was hosted by Reading Canoe Club, with volunteers from Reading and other clubs. Forty nine female paddlers, aged between 12 and 58, arrived early Saturday morning ready for action.
They came from 19 different clubs, from right across the country – from as far afield as Cornwall, Wales, Runcorn, Cambridge and Nottingham … as well as Reading. One paddler studying at Edinburgh University flew down specially for the occasion.
The first session of the morning was all in K1, with the participants divided into groups according to speed. We had seven coaches on the water from six different clubs, giving instruction on improving performance.
The next session was land based – a presentation on Strength & Conditioning, from Steph Morris. With a MSc in the subject and a great deal of experience, some of that with the rowing fraternity, she was enormously informative.
After lunch, there was a Q&A session. Nothing sedate about this, it was done in a special speed dating format! Who knew speed dating could be such fun and so illuminating?! We had five top female paddlers in the room and each table of 10 or so had 10 minutes to quiz them, before moving on to the next high-achiever. The five were Lizzie Broughton (just this year winning a Silver and Bronze in the Sprint World Cup in Portugal, winning the DW mixed K2 in 2015 taking the record and countless other medals in marathon too), Hayleigh Mason (just returned from the World Marathon Champs with a Bronze in K2 and with many other titles, including a Gold for K4 Sprints at the World Cup in 2011), Alice Murphy (another DW mixed K2 winner, Div3/Women’s B paddler, Level 2 coach driving high standards of coaching at Banbury canoe club and much more) , Dee Paterson (on the board of British Canoeing and British Para Olympics, with titles and GB representation across many disciplines including slalom, marathon, dragon boating, ocean racing and most recently, squirt boat World Championships) and Jo Bates (26 years paddling experienced, has raced for the GB team in both sprint and marathon, is lead coach at Falcon and just this year won Over-34s National Marathon title in K1). It was utterly fascinating and inspiring to converse with these five top-performing women and hear the different paths they have taken to achieve their phenomenal success.
Last on the schedule was the K2 session – the 21 K2 pairings expertly put together by the coaching team. All were new partnerships to make it even more interesting. Two 4k handicap races ensued, complete with portage. Terrific fun as had been the rest of the day.
The event had been masterminded by our own Kat Wilson, along with Alice Murphy and Lizzie Broughton on behalf of the MRC. They did a fantastic job, as did their band of helpers, including Tamsin and the kitchen team, who provided cake and hot drinks for break time, along with a hearty lunch of filled baked potatoes and salad, plus apple crumble and custard for pud.
When’s the next one? We can’t wait!
Summed up by Juliet Fookes of Devizes:
“Thank you SO much for Inviting me to THE MOST tremendous Ladies Day”