IN warm sunny weather over the Easter weekend canoeists from around the world took on the challenge of the Devizes to Westminster marathon.

The annual non-stop canoe endurance race ended in London on Easter Sunday as hundreds of canoeists crossed the finish line at Westminster Bridge.

For only the second time in the race’s history, the event was won by a mixed pair, with Dan Seagrove and Alexandra Lane of Reading Canoe Club.

The duo held off the challenge of some highly experienced competitors from the British Army and the Royal Marines.

The first three in the senior doubles were Seagrove and Lane with a time of 18 hours one minute and 58 seconds.

In second Richard Hendron and Aaron Jordan with Alex Burt and Paul Hayes in third.

Devizes' Simon Guest and Jonathan Osbourne came in came in soon afterwards with a time of just over 22 hours and 22 minutes.

Organisers said that more canoes would have reached Westminster but with warm temperatures and low levels of flow on the River Thames they described the 2019 “DW” race as one of the hardest in recent years.

Race director James Treadgold said conditions had defeated almost one third of the nearly 200 non-stop crews who started from Devizes on Easter Saturday.

“It has been a spectacularly tough year on the weather front,” Treadgold said. “The lack of rain means there is very little flow on the Thames and it makes for slow times.

"Crews find themselves on the course for an hour or two longer, and it often makes the difference between success and failure.”

Bradford on Avon's Nigel Unwin made it to the finish with his partner Kieron Blackburn of Newbury, while Devizes canoeists Steven Bush and Mark Ball also arrived in London.

Having left Devizes early on Saturday morning the first canoes arrived in the capital as dawn broke on Sunday morning.