The Canoe Sprint

18/09/2012 16:18 BST | Updated 17/11/2012 10:12 GMT

Continuing last week's watery, paddle-y, boat-y theme, Sunday saw me and a couple of desperately hungover companions take to a reservoir in Hackney, perhaps a slightly incongruous setting, for some gentle canoeing.

We arrived at Castle Canoe Club bright and early for a free taster session which I had found, again, through Join In UK (Incidentally, I can't recommend their website highly enough, if you're interested in finding some activities in your local area). It's amazing that even in the middle of the city, so many of these facilities are right there on your doorstep, although they may be fairly well hidden - I've lived in the area for 3 years and was completely oblivious to the existence of the club.

In stark contrast to last week's health and safety conscious exercise over in Barnes, at Castle Canoe Club they tell you might catch Weil's disease, hand you a sweaty jacket, and pretty much throw you, unsupervised, into the reservoir. It wouldn't be for everyone, but this is an approach I can get on board with. The Weil's disease curveball probably didn't do much to lift the spirits of my companions, though in fairness it is difficult to feel good about thought processes relating to rats' urine, with or without a hangover.

But a few laps round the reservoir and everyone seemed to perk up a bit. We were joined by one of the instructors who imparted a bit of kayaking (canoeing? I should probably figure out the difference between the two) knowledge to us, like how to "brake" and that I'd been holding my paddle the wrong way round for the best part of an hour. I must say, I seemed to move at a slightly more impressive speed once this fairly basic issue had been resolved.

After a while, we decided to have a race, which I'm counting as my first event - the Canoe Sprint - despite the fact that I didn't time it, collect any photographic evidence or measure the distance. Admittedly this isn't the best way to demonstrate my commitment to the challenge I'm undertaking, but you only get one free taster session, after all.

So, off we went, and it was good fun. Despite my high hopes for the canoe sprint, predictably, I was rubbish, and seemed to have real issues with speed, steering and not bumping into everyone, all the time. I lagged behind in third place as the others sped ahead, paddling in vain, with all my might. Fortunately, Jade was prepared to cheat and happily barged Harriet, who was bumped off course into some fairly fetid-looking vegetation, and I managed to finish in second place.

And you know what second place is? It's a silver medal, people - putting me firmly on my own medal table. I'm sure in a year-long competition with myself, I probably would have found a way on to the table eventually and I guess, ultimately, I have to win because no one else is competing in every single event, but regardless, I thank you, Jade.