Spring has sprung, and the warm sunshine brings thoughts of pleasant outdoor activities, the generosity of Nature’s own grocery cupboard, and perhaps enjoyable daytrips on lakes, canals, or at sea. If you haven’t yet decided where to holiday or spend a long weekend this year, now is the time!
Sweden’s largest canoe event – the Dalsland Canoe Marathon – recently celebrated its tenth year, with hundreds of paddlers all keen to complete the 55 km / 34 mile course in the fastest time possible! The annual race, is held on the second weekend of August each year, takes place in Dalsland’s lush, forests and sparkling glacial lakes, with canoeists traversing the four lakes – Laxsjön, Svärdlång, Västra Silen, and Lelång – with water so pure, you can drink it. It is open to all abilities (there’s even a shorter course for kids) and participants celebrate in Swedish style with a crayfish party afterwards.
Perhaps it was my male intuition. Perhaps it was the sudden arrival of my long-awaited sixth sense. Perhaps I was just exceptionally perceptive that morning. I guess I’ll never know. But whatever it was, something told me that getting heavily inebriated the night before a canoe marathon was not a wise move. I looked at my friend, Andy. He wore a puzzled, thoughtful expression, and I wondered if he was experiencing a similar epiphany.
“But you hate canoeing. And you have that weird fear, right? Raftophobia or something?”
“It’s bathophobia – and I don’t hate canoeing. I’m just not very good at it.”
For the record, bathophobia is not a fear of baths. It is a fear of deep water. Especially contained deep water, such as a lake. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, despite being a perfectly capable swimmer. And as for canoeing, ‘not very good’ was putting it lightly. I’d only ever done it once before and it had ended with me literally going round in circles before unceremoniously capsizing, and then panicking because my feet didn’t touch the bottom.
Perhaps my other half was right to be concerned. I had just told her I’d accepted an offer to take part in a canoe marathon in the lakes of Dalsland, West Sweden, in a few days’ time.
“What about training? It’s a marathon – they’re like 26 miles, aren’t they? Surely you need to train?”
“Actually,” I swallowed hard, “it’s 35 miles. But they said anyone can give it a go. I’ll be fine!”