K1 champs defend their Dusi titles

20 January 2009

Defending K1 champions Ant Stott and Abbey Miedema successfully defended their Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon titles on the weekend. While Stott withstood a strong challenge from Michael Mbanjwa, Miedema cruised to victory.

Mbanjwa was attempting to add the K1 title to the K2 crown he clinched the previous year with “Dusi Duke” Martin Dreyer. He did, in fact, outperform Stott on the first and third day of the race, but Stott built up a massive lead on day two, which proved too much for Mbanjwa to haul in, despite a strong performance on the final stage.

Miedema’s only problems occurred right at the start when another paddler clipped her at the top of Ernie Pierce Weir, causing the defending champion to fall out of her boat. It took her six minutes to finally right herself, but after that she stamped her authority on the race.

Portaging prowess

On the opening day of the race, Thursday, Mbanjwa used his superlative running skills to dominate the first stage. In the Dusi, more so than in other any canoe marathon, the ability to portage is a vital skill needed for victory; because of this the challenge of the Dusi is unique.

Mbanjwa took the first day honours in two hours, 47 minutes and 28 seconds, with Ant Stott, the World Marathon Championships winner in a K2 in 2008, following him across the line, over four minutes adrift in 2:51:50. Third place went to Olympic canoe sprinter Shaun Rubenstein in 2:58:04.

After the stage, Stott admitted that he simply couldn’t keep up with the running prowess of “Banji”, as Mbanjwa is known in the paddling community.

Convincing win

Miedema, meanwhile, fought back from her horror start to haul in her opposition before going on to a convincing stage win. She finished in a time of three hours, 25 minutes and 56 minutes. Robyn Kime placed second in a time of 3:32:53.

The outcome of the men’s race was decided on day two when things went wrong for Mbanjwa, while and Stott enjoyed an excellent day.

Mbanjwa’s problems began when he damaged his rudder at the Washing Machine Rapid, which forced him to stop for repairs, costing him four minutes. Then, he took a swim at the Hippo Rapids.

Seized the opportunity

Stott, seeing his rival in trouble, seized the opportunity to fly past Mbanjwa and into the lead. The demoralised Mbanjwa then struggled on the flat water of the Inanda Dam, heading into the second overnight stop as Stott recorded a massive stage victory.

He crossed the line in three hours, eight minutes and 12 seconds, with Shaun Rubenstein turning in the second best time of 3:22:13, followed by Mbanjwa in 3:25:47, 17 minutes and 35 seconds behind Stott.

Miedema continued her dominance in the women’s race, clocking 3:44:57. Kime held onto second after finishing 10 minutes behind Miedema.

Final day

On the final day, Mbanjwa made up lots of ground on Stott as the race leader elected to portage over the dreaded climb of Burma Road. Stott, however, reclaimed most of his advantage on the way into the finish at Blue Lagoon.

With a third stage time of 02:38:51, he was 47 seconds slower than Mbanjwa, but the overall winner by a comfortable margin, clocking 08:38:54 to Mbanjwa’s 08:51:20. Rubenstein completed the podium finishers, finishing just over 14 minutes behind Mbanjwa.

In the women’s race, Miedema enjoyed a smooth final day as she cruised to victory in 10:18:51.

Robyn Kime, who had entered the day in second place, had a miserable time as she got caught up in hyacinth and gave up over 16 minutes to Abie Adie on the stage, which allowed Adie to come through and take second in 10:49:20, just over three minutes clear of Kime.

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