Sixty year old cancer survivor Doug Hodson of Wembley Downs shows that anyone can be a part of the adventurous Avon Descent, if they are willing to put in the effort.
Doug Hodson was born in Kenya and has retired from a long career in the oil and gas industry. During this time, he and his wife raised their two sons.
In 2008, Doug had an operation removing cancerous cells. His left leg became difficult to move and he relied on a plastic splint, but that hasn’t stopped his love for adventure and testing his limits. He replaced his love of running for a sport that focuses on his upper body strength – kayaking.
Doug started to kayak and formed a strong friendship with other kayakers on Saturday mornings where he practiced flat water rafting. In 2013, discovered the Avon Descent and he quickly became eager to participate. Since then, he has competed in three Avon Descents.
Competing in a Team of two in 2016, Doug and his racing partner Roland Bodt, chose a team name, very close to Doug’s heart – “Sock it to Sarcoma”. By displaying not only the name on his paddle, but also wearing the foundations color pink, he raised awareness for Sarcomas, which a very rare form of cancer. (www.sockittosarcoma.org.au)
The Avon Descent is a 45 year old institution where participants paddle or motorboat a 124km race from the Avon valley in Northam to the Swan River. Hundreds of people compete each year as they experience a water race not like any other. Competitors can focus of flat water or test themselves by going on the rapids. Over the years, Doug competed in two teams of four and one team of two, and they have practiced throughout the year, something Doug strongly recommends.
“I think it’s more fun if you’re in a team than if you’re on your own, because you’ve always got someone interested in going with you,” says Doug.
Practice is essential for anyone, whether it is their first time participating or fifteenth. The WA Canoe Society provides many opportunities for individuals to perfect their form and get used to the wide range of conditions that the river might provide. This training helped Doug achieve his goal of kayaking down half of the river in 2016 – a feat he is hoping to accomplish again in the future.
The Avon Descent is on the 5th and 6th of August and the encourages anyone to push their limits by participating.