Luckily you're not in a boat all that time. At my age, after 2 hours my legs start seizing up, but fortunately there are only a couple of sections where that's an issue (the beginning and the end) because the rest of it there are regular locks where you need to carry your boat. So there's quite a bit of running - we did a stretch of around 2 miles of running on day 1 because some of the canal stretches had been drained. That's quite a long run carrying a 22kg boat loaded with stuff. And generally day 1 is more a test of running and carrying, as it has a whopping 35 locks. It's a lot like a series of cross-country sprints with some paddling between.
Am extremely impressed with the sheer fitness and skill of the people who can do it well - apparently Tim Brabants (Beijing gold medallist) is a 4-minute mile runner too, and when he showed up in a scratch pair at the Small Boats Head to try his hand at rowing, he came fourth.
So anyway, for anyone looking for something different, warmly recommended. Felt a bit weird being in the "Just Get Round!!!" category, as for the moment it's a wonderfully hard-arsed event.
Devizes to Westminster turned out to be Devizes to Teddington, as they called off the final stage. Bit of a shame, but pleased with a paddle which started a bit lazily and cautiously but got quite good towards the end, and completed 108 miles in just over 20 hours. A properly fun event too, and excellent organisation; ambience-wise and logistically, it's a bit like doing one of the big running relays (Welsh Castles, Green Belt etc.).
Will have to do it again because riding down the tide to Westminster is the fun bit.
Applied a T-cut and turtle wax makeover to our boat's hull, checked the rudder, found some alarmingly loose nuts on footplates, and scrubbed some of the caked mud from inside the boat. Might try some light paddling depending on work/school one evening this week but otherwise it's all carb loading.
Day 1 (Friday) is the tough one. 34 miles, but no stream, and 35 locks to "portage", each of which is a falling-in risk and involves stopping, hauling the boat out, running up and down steep muddy banks (I wear my XC shoes), getting back in and setting off again. The really good boats can do this with almost no loss of forward momentum and it requires skill, strength and aerobic fitness. We can't and we lost perhaps a minute on each in the practice race to boats who were otherwise no quicker. Although we've been working on it.
Then of course you've got to pack all that into the car, recover, and do it all again the next day. Days 2 and 3 are similar and a little longer, although with fewer portages and more stream; being on the Thames gives you 1mph or so. Target pace for day 1 is not much more than 4mph; should hit more like 5-6 on the later ones. Missing the cutoff on day 1 is a real risk, especially if we have capsizes.
Day 4 (easter Monday) is a hilarious mass start on the Tideway at Teddington at 5:45am and a ride on the outgoing tide to Westminster. It feels like the open sea compared to the canals, but as a former rower I'm OK with that. Mrs Tmap is our support crew and also a former Cambridge cox, so knows a thing or two about supplying and motivating her crew, and gaffer-tape-and-spanner repairs.
2 weeks time, I'll hopefully have finished the Devizes-Westminster. Been interesting to get into kayak training and racing and compare with marathon running. We only really do one serious outing a week and some land training the rest of the time, but it feels much the same, with the weird point that you feel completely knackered but can still walk fine. And our one race (the Waterside C) would have been familiar to any marathon novice - first thirteen in record time, final ten in a painful death march. I suppose the odd thing with kayaking too is that increasing your effort actually makes only a marginal effect on speed, so it's even more important to be patient when you want to go faster - not really my strong point. And because the effort is a bit less, I find it easier to digest food and drink.
Plus, of course, it's weird having previously been quite good at marathons, and now find myself being the back markers keeping the marshals from packing up and going home.