The start of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race has been delayed after a man's body was found in the canal, 100 metres from the start line.

Police closed off the towpath near the incident and spoke to race organisers.

Keith Bennett, who organises the Devizes end of the race, said: "It is very sad and our thoughts are with the gentleman's family.

"We will get under way just as soon as we get the go-ahead from the police."

Chief umpire Guy Dresser advised canoeists to go back to their vehicles and keep warm.

Bob Norbury, the 71-year-old former Para from Burbage who is hoping to become the oldest contestant to complete the challenge in a single kayak, said his thoughts were also with the family.

On a practical front he said: "I asked to go off really early as it is going to take some time, so this has really messed up my plans."

Liv Corbett from Dauntsey's School which has seven crews taking part, said: "With all the problems we have had during training with the weather, a delay like this is nothing. It is really sad."

The chief umpire, Guy Dresser, has just announced the incident is over and the race will start at 9.30