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A report of the second GUCR held in 1996
Almost unnoticed by the rest of the world, the 2nd Grand Union Canal Race took place on 25th May this year. From an original huge entry of nine competitors, the field was reduced to two by the 6.00 am start time. In fact, at 05.50 it had looked as though no-one was going to start as we waited for someone to show. In a flash of inspiration/desperation I thought to look to the other side of the Basin and was rewarded by the sight of our gallant runners wondering where the hell the organiser had got to. After some frantic gesturing they duly appeared on the Gas Street side just in time to stamp their "passports" before the off. And so the duel began. Two runners, both with support crews, an even head-to-head to London -145 miles of almost flat running.
The prospect of so long a race without the distraction of hills is a bit daunting, but the Grand Union is a navigable waterway and is surprisingly busy. The scenery varies from industrial through urban to rural and the route takes in many places only glimpsed from car or train windows. The gaily painted narrow boats, pleasure craft, lock workings and associated industries all add interest as does the prospect of meeting your crew at any of the numerous accessible road crossings.
However interesting, it is still a very long way. And so it proved for our duellists.
Glyn Seal, who had been leading all the way, stopped at 3.00 am on Sunday, to officially retire at 3.30 am, having covered 81 miles. Gary Moss retired at 4.30 am after 84 miles. Honours more or less even.
Both have expressed intentions of "having another go', along with several of the initial nine who, for various reasons, didn't start.
Having researched the route and meeting points, I feel confident that we could cope with 40 to 50 starters and have decided to publicise the event more widely. British Waterways, who have been exceptionally helpful on both previous races, have provisionally offered sponsorship, as well as the menís and ladiesí trophies, already provided.