The last few years I've spent a bit of time winter training in another part of the world either to escape the cold or get a bit of a different stimulus on some other river, but this year I was lucky enough to be in the country and able to attend all 3 of the famous Stafford and Stone mini slalom series which takes place through January-February.
For me, they are an opportunity to get on a startline and race some full runs with real race poles, gate numbers, people watching etc. Although the water is not technically demanding I think that I can take a lot from the experience of racing itself by playing a few psychological games with myself. So every year, if possible, I will always try to make it back to Stone to compete- Plus it's a chance to spend a weekend at home (and have Grandma cook for me)!
Recently when I've made it back home to race on Stone I've also competed in the C2 category with my little cousin Andrew, I'm told he loves it and I enjoy the challenge of paddling in the back of the C2 for a change out of my usual position in the front with Greg.
This year was a successful series for me, I was convincingly faster than any other C1 with every run I did and made the overall final at the 3rd race. I had picked up a few penalties over the three races which has informed the project a little bit going forward, but I also challenged myself to go clean in the final which I achieved- job done.
Some good learning done and very valuable practice of racing, onwards to the next one! Next time I sit on the start line I will be racing again for a place on the Great Britain Team!
Racing in the C2 class with cousin Andrew McGranachan. Photo Credit: Ian Turner