I’m not asking for a penny in this old man’s hat but, the geese are as fat as they’re likely to get, and therefore, according to the rhyme, Christmas must be coming. Also coming soon to a very select few, will be their 2022 Canalslam Trophies, marking the traditional closure of the canal racing season. Although the ending may be traditional, my feeling is that this series has been slightly out of the norm.

For a start we had a female outright winner of the first event. This of course shouldn’t be remarkable in these times of equality – in fact I’ve been beaten by women on many occasions (probably a tale for a different website) – but this was only the second time, as far as I know, in GUCR/Canalrace history.

Next there was that little extra event based at Coventry. Billed as a never to be repeated one-off, and not part of the Slam, it was so popular with runners and our crews, that a repeat was announced almost before I’d had time to get home and unload the van.

And then last, and probably best of all, is that we have more than one female runner receiving this year’s lovely three-medal “slammers’” plaque*. In fact, we had a five-fold increase which – in a year that began with the TRA inviting ideas for increasing female participation – is very encouraging. Let’s hope the trend continues next year.

Talking of the new season, it too will be slightly out of the norm. Marking thirty years of our canal mania, we’ll all be heading the “wrong” way on the GUCR next May. While reversing the route-maps, we are taking the opportunity to try some new checkpoint venues. The hope is that these will improve facilities, comfort and safety for runners, as well as the wonderful volunteer crews. We hope to make similar improvements on the other two race routes which should make the 2023 series even more appealing for everyone taking part. It’s certainly calling out to me and, given the rate time seems to fly at my age, the Canal Family will be reunited in Little Venice before I know it. Bring it on!

Dick Kearn.

*lovingly crafted by Greg Barnard at Outhouse by Hand with help from Northern CNC

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