6 February 2014
As the final field for South Africa’s Dusi Canoe Marathon takes shape, 41 paddlers from around the globe have confirmed their places for the starting line at Natal Canoe Club in Pietermaritzburg next Thursday.
A three-day, 120 kilometre marathon, the Dusi places not only a premium on paddling, but also on portaging, which is why international paddlers have traditionally been reluctant to take on its imposing challenge. In recent years, however, their numbers have been climbing.
Czech Republic marathon star Jakub Adam and his sister Ana Adamova are both returning to the race, with Adam partnering former canoe marathon world champ Cam Schoeman, and Adamova teaming up with the in-form Abby Adie for a shot at the women’s title.
They will be far from the only paddlers with foreign accents in the pre-dawn air at Camps Drift. The Hungarian under-23 marathon aces Gabor Mathe and Adrian Boros will be making their Dusi debut, and are eagerly looking forward to their first ever river marathon race that includes challenging rapids.
“There are no rapids at all on the Danube where we train, so this will be very different for us,” said Mathe.
Abbey Ulansky (nee Miedema), an eight-time winner of the race who earned the title of “The Dusi Queen”, has jetted back for another attempt to win the women’s trophy and the defence of the title she won with Robyn Kime two years ago. Now happily settled in the Canadian town of Kelowna, she brings a third continent to the Dusi field this year.
Australian accents have been a regular feature of the river races this summer as a zealous group from Down Under has enjoyed the unique South African river marathon scene since the Hansa Fish in September.
James Morfitt will be teaming up with seasoned Durban paddler Darryl Bartho for the three-day epic from Camps Drift to Blue Lagoon in Durban, and will be joined by several other Aussies who will jet in for the big race.
Some of the international field is made up of expat South Africans living in far flung corners of the globe, who have been drawn back by the irresistible attraction to “Do the Dusi”.
Exploration geologist John Ward will fly in from China for the race, while Gavin Richardson, flying in from the USA, might be sharing the same flight as Stand Up Paddleboarder Corran Addison, who will technically join Ulansky on the starting list as a Canadian.
Canoe polo world champion
The captain of the world champion German Women’s canoe polo team Alexandra Bonk is another European on the entry list. She will be guided down the uMsundusi and uMngeni rivers by local canoe polo stalwart Kevin Meier.
Darren Raw will be flying the flag for Swaziland, with the seasoned kayaker apparently trying to conjure up rains to provide big water for the three-day race, while another Southern African neighbour, Namibia, will be represented by Braam van Wyk.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2014 starts in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, 13 February, and ends in Durban on Saturday, 15 February.