Monday 20 October 2014

111 Hawkesbury KM's for Davo.

This Saturday night I line up for my sixth Hawkesbury Classic, a 111km overnight race from Windsor, all the way along the Hawkesbury River to the Brooklyn Bridge (the video above records some of the action from last year's race).

I've been racing in this event since 2002, when I punted down the river in a wide, slow old plastic kayak in the excruciating time of 17 hours, 34 minutes. I've said it before, but that first Hawkesbury remains one of the hardest things I've ever done.
The start of the 2012 Hawkesbury Classic.
The past two years I've set myself the target of beating 11 hours, paddling our fastest true ocean-going sea kayak, the Tiderace Pace 18. In 2012 I did 11.05 and last year 11.08, so both times I've been forced to race the whole bloody way with my eye on the GPS knowing I was ever so slightly behind my target. Not an easy way to spend 11 hours I can promise!

This year I've switched boats to an ocean ski. It's a new challenge as I'll be more exposed to the conditions on the night, paddling a craft with no deck, but one that should see me down the course underneath the 11 hours I've set my sights on for the past two years.

It's run for the benefit of a charity, the Arrow Bone Marrow Foundation, just as most of the big events thesedays are linked in with a cause of some sort. Whilst I'm always respectful of this essential fund raising source, it does get a bit bewildering after a few different races to even remember which one is for what, so I mostly resist the call to send out fund raising notifications on social media etc.
The life & times of Barry Davison.
Last year however, when I sent the link for my Hawkesbury Classic fund raising page, I was surprised by the speed and amount that was donated by my old cricket coach at Randwick, Barry Davison. Baz was a fantastic coach who came to Randwick when we could at best be described as under-achievers, and in three seasons  took us to numerous premierships, two Sydney Club Championships and had a hand in turning several good first graders into Sheffield Shield players. At his first training session on taking over, he started by saying 'You Randwick blokes have a reputation for being pissheads & womanisers, and that's all going to change'! He then asked us to split into two groups for some fitness drills, whereby one of the club characters said loudly, 'Pissheads to the left, womanisers to the right'! Guess which group was the biggest?

He posted a lovely note with his donation, pointing out that his quality of life and roller coaster ride of dire predictions followed by strong recovery was facilitated directly by the hard work & research of the good people at the Arrow Foundation. Sadly Barry's rare bone marrow cancer took him from his loved ones earlier this year. Happily, before he passed away we all had a chance to send him off at a brilliant tribute night where he received a lifetime coaching award from Cricket NSW, and made a lovely speech to the gathering which rounded out his community involvement in the game he loved with great dignity.

Listening to Barry's catalogue of treatment for his disease, the costs of the drugs, the time spent hooked up to various machines administering measured doses of what at times were seriously experimental treatments that the Arrow Foundation had a direct hand in creating. He was in awe of the dedication of their doctors & scientists, and was pretty stoked that my pain in the Classic was going to be for the gain of others suffering with diseases like the one he endured.
Feeling the pain at the end of 100km
That may have also been the idea that he wasn't able to inflict much pain upon me as a cricket coach, me not being the most umm, dedicated of trainers, so he was quite pleased to hear that karma hat got me....
So, this year, after speaking to Barry's wife Sandy & his sons & teammates of mine, Greg & Rod, I'm going to make a hoo-ha about the fund raising aspect of my race, to honour & remember the very brave & generous man that was Barry Davison. I've targeted $2000 as a good result, but it would be great to exceed that amount. The race is this Saturday evening, and you can donate to the Arrow Foundation cause & sponsor my efforts by clicking the link HERE. Times are tough and I appreciate any support you can spare, and I in turn pledge to race my ski like it was stolen!

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