New Guinness World Record for paddling along the Thames in a double kayak for Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club members Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock

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Two adventure-loving Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club members have broken the Guinness World Record for paddling along the River Thames in a double kayak.

Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock, both in their 60s, broke the previous record by nearly 11 hours by sailing the 125 miles and 44 locks in 24 hours and 12 minutes.

They said: “We like to challenge each other in different ways because we share a common value – adding life to years, but not adding years to life.”

Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock during their world record paddle. Photo: Catherine Ayling (56234446)

Sze, who lives in Stortford, and Bullock, who is mainly a member of the Barking & Dagenham Canoe Club but trains in the town, began their epic journey at Lechlade Bridge, Gloucestershire, at 10.30am on Easter Saturday morning, with the mayor of Lechlade present as one of the official witnesses required by Guinness.

The duo chose a K2 racing boat for their challenge – taking the precaution of adding extra padding to the standard seats – and enlisted an 11-person support team to follow them on the road.

They paddled past Oxford and Abingdon, stopping only for pit stops with their support crew supplying them with energy drinks and pancakes. The team was also tasked with replacing the batteries in the on-board cameras and recharging the stopwatches, which allowed Chris and Gordon to monitor their pace.

Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock complete the challenge at Teddington Lock.  Photo: Catherine Ayling (56234448)
Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock complete the challenge at Teddington Lock. Photo: Catherine Ayling (56234448)

The couple were able to paddle through most of the 44 locks along the route, but some had to be ported. Just before midnight they reached Reading where their route joined that of the famous Devizes-Westminster long-distance race, which also ran throughout the Easter weekend.

They continued rowing into the cold night, when exhaustion sets in and pitch darkness on the river prevents boats and support crew from meeting, and past Old Windsor into the misty morning.

And their efforts were rewarded on Easter Sunday morning when Sze and Bullock reached Teddington Lock – the point where the Thames becomes tidal – in new record time.

The couple’s extraordinary feats will also benefit the Youth Adventure Trust, as they have so far raised over £2,300 for the charity.



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