A marina on the Ripon Canal in Yorkshire was basecamp for day six of Sip’s mammoth challenge, traveling back to familiar territory for a twenty four hour paddle up and down the steady waters. After the heights and undulation of the last three days, climbing, mountain trekking and abseiling, canoeing and a more rural setting provided a more peaceful backdrop to todays challenge, an important one for Sip and the team to reflect on the scale of the achievement so far.
At the start of this day, remember that Sip now hasn’t slept or had sustained rest for over five days, or one hundred and twenty hours, being physically and mentally active for the vast majority of that time. Such an undertaking will take weeks to recover from both mentally and physically, with the effects possibly lasting for months. This kind of trauma is key to the wider message of this event; that one man’s pain and suffering, whilst being aided mentally and physically by a support crew, is nothing compared to what our dedicated service personal go through on daily basis, long term, without a support network around them or a light at the end of the tunnel. Aptly, as the water glistened in the summer sun, day six was all about a reflection of that, thinking of those who continue to suffer in silence.
The day began in the late morning, with incredible support from Aquavista who generously provided the use of their parking, toilet facilities and allowed us to erect a dockside launch area beside the lock. Through the day Sip paddled continuously for the twenty four hours, with Les providing waterborne support from another canoe. Both took it in turns during the daylight hours to teach members of the support crew how to paddle, so that eventually there would always be two in the boat with Sip during the night shift. When that point came, he wouldn’t have had sleep for 134 hours, and was starting to show the effects of that, nodding off whilst standing during the previous event. Safety, with water all around, became a priority, but that was expected at this stage in the challenge.
Once again, a display was setup with donation buckets on an adjacent tow path, which is frequently used by local dog walkers. We would like to thank those we met for their extreme generosity, with a special mention to the local lady (a baker) who donated and returned later with cakes for the team. That boost to morale, that excitement, gave all the support crew a much needed spur to the finish line. The night time activities passed without incident, Sip paddling a length of the canal sixty four times, a total distance of 65 kilometres. Sunday is now here, the final twenty four hour push, but how will Sip’s feet hold out after the trials and tribulations of trekking on Thursday? Check back tomorrow to find out.