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Duzi River Marathon
Birkett, Zondo win Dusi
February 15 2014 at 03:41pm
By Thahir Asmal
Andy Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi won the 2014 Dusi canoe race in emphatic fashion after another commanding display in stage three between Inanda Dam and Blue Lagoon in Durban on Saturday.
The pre-race favourites, who both endured forgettable final days 12 months ago in the K1 or singles classification, won the last stage of the doubles (K2) in a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 17 seconds for an overall time of 7:43.50.
Three-time world marathon champion Hank McGregor and partner Jasper Mocke came a distant second in an overall time of 7:53.59, but never really had any chance of victory after trailing by almost nine minutes two days into the 63rd edition of the three-day race.
Cam Schoeman and Czech rowing star Adam Jakub finished third with a combined time of 8:10.09.
Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa completed possibly the most remarkable story of the world famous race by coming fourth (8:15.34).
Kime, last year's winner, and Mbanjwa were 17th overall at the end of day one after breaking their boat at Commercial Weir, shortly after the start on day one.
Defending champions Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky won the women's race for a third consecutive time after one of the closest races in history.
Kime took her overall titles to five and Ulansky added a remarkable ninth win to her name in the world famous 119,62-kilometre race.
Their winning time of 8:50.59 was just over a minute ahead of Ana Adamova and Abby Adie (8:52.06) with Haw sisters Tamika and Bianca (9:36.35) coming in third. – Sapa
Birkett and Zondi claim first stage in Dusi Canoe Marathon
BY SBU MJIKELISO, FEBRUARY 14 2014, 11:38
ANDY Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi lived up to their pre-race favourites tag when they swept to a lead on the first stage of the Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday.
There was great excitement when the two announced last year that they would pair up for this year’s K2 race, and they showed everyone why.
They powered to a five-minute, 27-second lead ahead of Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke, while Cam Schoeman and Jakub Adam were 8:04 further back.
The biggest surprise of the day was K1 champion Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa breaking their boat on Commercial Road Weir a few minutes after the start.
It was a disaster for the pair who were expected to push Birkett and Zondi and it seemed unlikely that they would make up the 30 minutes spent on repairs.
Birkett and Zondi, both strong runners, took the lead from McGregor and Mocke at the Pine Tree optional take out and added some daylight at Campbells. From there they never looked back.
They built a 3:50 lead by the time they got to Mission Rapid, where they glided flawlessly between the rocks.
The pair had put in months of preparation for the race, spending as much time together as possible in the lead-up to the Dusi marathon, and it showed when they finished the first stage on Thursday in 2:33:30.
"The plan wasn’t to open up a gap early, but on Campbells we opened up a little bit of a gap, although we were still trying to keep a controlled pace," said Birkett, a three-time champion.
"We did the same up the Guinea Fowl take out because it was a long day and there was some tough portaging ahead. We knew we had a bit of a bigger gap, though, because we couldn’t hear any of the other boats.
"We then put the hammer down and tried to hurt the people that were chasing us.
"We had targeted the Cabbage Tree portage as the take out to use to open up a gap. We tried to go as hard as we could," he said.
"But we tried to save ourselves for (today) and didn’t want to kill ourselves on the first day because there are two more days of racing still to go."
Zondi, who dominated the K1 first stage last year but ended up finishing third overall, said he had learnt not to celebrate prematurely because of a lead.
Looking set to become the first black K1 winner, Zondi swam at Pump House weirs, giving Kime his maiden title.
"I was too excited after breaking the record last year," said Zondi. "Anything can happen to us today, I’ve learnt, and McGregor and Mocke might capitalise and catch us — you never know."
The women’s race was much closer as Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky edged 29 seconds ahead of Abby Adie and Anna Adamova, finishing in 3:02:01.
History of the Duzi River Marathon
The Dusi Canoe Marathon is arguably the world's most prestigious canoe (or rather, kayak) race, held between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa. It is run along the Msunduzi River, which is more commonly referred to as the Dusi (or Duzi) river over a total distance of 120km. The 2013 race attracted a total of approximately 10000 people - 1700 paddlers and seven to eight thousand seconders, helpers and supporters over the 3 days. The 2014 race expects to attract double the amount of people to the race.
The Original Dusi
The first Dusi was started on the 22nd of December 1951. Unlike the current race the first race was held on a continuous basis, with the racers only stopping when they reached the finish. Only eight paddlers took part in this first race. They were: Ian Player, Miles Brokensha, Ernie Pearce, John Naude, Basil Halford, Willie Potgieter, Fred Schmidt and Denis Vorster. Only Ian Player finished the race in a time of six days. This was despite having been bitten by a night adder during the race.
The canoe that he used to complete the race was made from wood and canvas and weighted roughly 70 pounds. It also held all the supplies he needed to complete the race.
The following three races were all held on a non-stop basis, before it was decided in 1956 to hold the race over three days. The reason for this change is the danger involved in paddling at night. Before the change was introduced, the winning time had been reduced to 1 day, 3 hours and 28 minutes.
The first known trip down the dusi was not in fact on the race itself, but rather by two Pietermaritzburg men William Foley and Paul Marianny in 1893. They covered the distance in seven days
The Current Race
The race is currently held over a period of three days, with each day having a defined beginning and end. The race is referred to as The Dusi Canoe Marathon.
The first day is 45 km which includes roughly 15 km of portaging with the canoe, with shorter portaging sections on day 2 and 3. Day 2 is also 45 km and ends with a 10 km stretch on flat water on the Inanda Dam. Day 3 is 35 km of clean cold water let out from the dam. There are several sections with large rapids, particularly on day 2 and 3.
Competitors have a choice to either compete in a K1 or K2 canoe.
The current record stands at around 8 hours (over the three race days).
The Race Organisers
The Race is organised by the Natal Canoe Club, a club affiliated to Canoe South Africa and consisting of approximately 450 members.
The club is based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The clubhouse is located on the banks of the Msunduzi River, at the exact start point of the race.