Gruelling 125-mile race in a Second World War kayak

Mick Dawson (back) and Steve Grenham.
Mick Dawson (back) and Steve Grenham.

“It was good, but hard work,” admitted Mick Dawson after completing the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race in a gruelling 32 hours 54 minutes and 25 seconds.

The non-stop 125-mile race comes with the added task of 77 portages, which left Mick and his pal Steve Grenham having to carry their Second World War klepper kayak – which they liken to a bathtub – for parts of the energy-sapping race.

And despite Mick joking that he’s suddenly ‘become more aware of my shoulders’, the pair finished second in their class and, for many, that may be seen as quite an achievement.

But for Mick and Steve, this is merely phase one of their warm-up itinerary as they train for the Cockleshell Endeavour - where they will circumnavigate the 650 miles of the Falkland Islands in spring 2016.

The duo both served in the Atlantic as young Royal Marines back in 1982, and they will return next year in a bid to raise cash for Armed Forces charities Care After Combat and the Falklands Veterans Federation.

The challenge also aims to give additional focus to Steve, who has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after serving in both the Falklands and Northern Ireland.

“I think it has demonstrated to us that we are capable of doing it,” added Mick when asked what he had gauged from his near-40 hour race.

The duo are now planning their next task, a five-day mission along the 60-mile length of the Caledonian Canal and back.

Bostonian Mick and Steve will set off from near the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge in late May and carry all their food and camping equipment with them.

The canal connects Scotland’s northeast and west coasts, from Inverness to Fort William.

“We’ll be camping out this time,” Mick added.

“This will be our first real attempt at doing anything similar to what we’ll be doing in the Falklands.”

The Falklands circumnavigation will see Mick – a record-breaking rower who previously made the cross-Pacific journey from Japan to the USA – and Steve take on the unrelenting waters, as well as the threats of whales and landmined beaches.

The Devizes to Westminster race saw Mick and Steve joined by their support team of , with their support team of Tony Grenham, Phil Booth, Si Reed and Ric Strange inspiring them along the way.

To sponsor their quest, log on to www.cockleshell