A MARATHON is usually 26 gruelling miles of pavement pounding – but veteran triathlete Jean Ashley has just won a 125-mile marathon on water!
Jean, 50, of Malpas, teamed up with Wirral-based Adele Blakeborough to take on the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe and Kayak Marathon.
Starting in Devizes, Wiltshire, the race travels along 52 miles of the Kennet and Avon Canal before taking in 55 miles of the River Thames and finishing under Westminster Bridge in London.
Jean and 35-year-old Adele decided to enter the race last October.
“Training was hard this winter,” said Bishop Heber High School fitness teacher Jean. “On several occasions we got back from the River Dee covered in frost and ice.
“Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and daughters, who helped with housework and cooking to allow me to spend more time on the water.”
Jean and Adele started in their double racing canoe at Devizes at 11am and finished underneath Westminster Bridge outside the Houses of Parliament on Sunday at 9.21am.
They came 38th out of 180 starters and they finished in an incredible 22 hours and 21 minutes – winning first place in the ladies class and also taking the ladies veteran prize for over 35s.
They finished three-and-a-half hours ahead of the next ladies team.
“It’s certainly an amazing journey,” said Jean, who is a member of Chester Triathlon Club and Chester Sailing and Canoeing Club. “It was very tough and dark during the night, and we did attempt to sing a song at one point to help keep us awake!
“But paddling down the last mile of the Thames with tears of elation in our eyes, knowing we had achieved our goal, is a memory that will stay with us both for ever.”
The duo would like to thank their support crew, which included Jean’s husband Dave and daughters Kate and Lucy.
Their effort was also sponsored, raising just over £700 for Cerebral Palsy Sport.