Triumph – The Vohandu Marathon

Ergert Kamenik

Dave Rawding and Andy Davies, senior instructors and members of Kingston Kayak Club, have become the first all British crew to compete in the gruelling 100km Vohandu Ultra Marathon in Estonia. Their remarkable achievement in this prestigious event, known as one of Europe’s toughest challenges, marks a milestone for them as their first ultra-event.

Preparation for such an arduous endeavour required rigorous training both on and off the water. Dave and Andy spent countless hours paddling on the River Hull, complemented by daily sessions at Haltemprice gym for cardio and strength training. Even when the weather turned unfavourable, they persisted, utilising a kayak ergo at home to maintain their conditioning.

Their partnership as a couple played a pivotal role in their journey, providing mutual motivation and support throughout training and racing. However, the Vohandu Marathon posed unparalleled challenges, pushing their physical and mental limits to the brink. Battling freezing temperatures, ice buildup, and shoulder pain, they forged ahead with unwavering determination.

Despite the daunting obstacles, Dave and Andy’s resilience prevailed as they tackled the demanding course, navigating through four portages and six white-water sections. Their extensive experience as white-water coaches and competitors served them well, especially during the turbulent rapids where many struggled.  They’d set themselves a target of completing the race in under 10 hours and they achieve it; 9 hours, 59 minutes and 15 seconds!

Photo Credits : Taavi Nagel

Reflecting on their accomplishment, Dave remarked, “The Vohandu was a challenging, physically and emotionally draining experience but hugely rewarding. Andy and I are delighted to have become the first British crew to complete the Vohandu!” Their triumph is not only a testament to their perseverance but also a source of inspiration for aspiring paddlers.

Beyond personal achievement, Dave and Andy’s journey took on greater significance as they raised over £3400 for Dove House Hospice, a cause close to their hearts. Their fundraising efforts underscored the power of community support and solidarity in making a positive impact.

Looking back at the marathon, Andy recalled memorable moments such as the adrenaline-fuelled mass start and the heartwarming support from local spectators. However, he acknowledged the challenges of completing the race without a support crew, highlighting the importance of having additional assistance for rest and refuelling.

Andy and Dave are very grateful to the support they’ve received from Peak Paddlesports, providing the bespoke Buoyancy Aids and paddle cags and Tailored Branding for the Hoodies to promote the challenge and fundraising.

As Dave and Andy bask in the glow of their accomplishment, they encourage others to embark on similar challenges, emphasising the indelible bonds forged amidst adversity. Their journey, fuelled by passion and fuelled by purpose, exemplifies the spirit of resilience and camaraderie that defines Kingston Kayak Club.

To learn more about Dave and Andy’s Vohandu Challenge and contribute to their fundraising efforts for Dove House Hospice, visit their page: Dave & Andy | Instagram, Facebook | Linktree


Featured image photo credits : Egert Kamenik