20 July 2010
Hank McGregor powered his way to a seventh Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon victory on the weekend, wrting his name in the record books as he bettered the mark of six victories he had shared with Robbie Herreveld.
Robyn Kime dominated the ladies’ race over the four days, finishing over an hour ahead of nearest rival Donna Winter.
McGregor blasted to victory at the finish at Velddrif without another boat in sight. “I am really happy. My dad was here for my first win, and now he was here for my seventh. It’s a really special moment,” he said afterwards.
‘Hank deserves it’
Second placed Lance King praised McGregor saying: “Hank deserves it. He is a true professional. No one can match his skill, racing mentality, and experience.”
Heinrich Schloms raced a skilled and consistent race over the four days to finish in third place overall.
After a disastrous first day, when he got stuck in a tree block, the first under-21 finisher Pierre-Andre Rabie had something to prove. He outsprinted King to finish the fourth and final stage of the race in second place on the day and fifth overall. Rabie will be one to watch in the future.
Another face to watch is that of Marc Holtzhausen, who completed his race in fourth place in a qualify field.
The start of the 56.5 kilometre fourth and final stage saw the top paddlers setting off in the third of the batch starts at Zoutkloof at 8:30. The first competitors put their boats in the water just as the sun was beginning to make its appearance on a wintry Cape morning. If the paddlers were lucky, the ice was melting off the seats of their boats.
Racing off the start line, McGregor, King, Schloms, Rabie and Holtzhausen quickly formed a bunch and raced together until Kersefontein.
Watching from the banks of the river, it looked as though King was on his way to winning the final Bridge prize of the Berg when, from around the corner, raced a determined McGregor. Showing off his raw power, he sprinted ahead to snatch the prize from King. It meant he had missed out on only one Bridge prize during the race.
At Oordraplek, the final viewpoint for the day, it was a bunch of five that appeared over the horizon.
Dash through the mud
For the past two years, when the water levels have been exceptionally high, competitors have been able to paddle through the portage. However this year, it was a 500 metre dash through the mud, which saw McGregor pull out a 20 metre lead by the put in.
By the time the rest of the bunch had climbed into their boats, McGregor was already 100 metres ahead and pulling further away.
“I broke away at the portage with 40 minutes to go. I wanted to show everyone that I was here for the win,” said a jubilant McGregor.
A league of her own
In the ladies’ race, Robyn Kime was in a league of her own for the entire four days of paddling, finishing more than an hour and 12 minutes ahead of the second placed Donna Winter, with Robyn Henderson almost a further 15 minutes behind in third.
Kime, who at 20 years of age has a lot of Bergs ahead of her, finished 19th overall on the final stage of the Berg. She was 23rd overall over the four days.
“I had a great race, with no mistakes other than one swim, and I could have been fitter!” said Kime.
“I was very happy to finish in the top 20 today. My goal is to finish in the top 20 overall one day,” she added.
Riaan Manser, better known for his paddle around Madagascar and cycle around Africa, completed his first Windhoek Berg Canoe Marathon in just over 23 hours.
“The Berg is a special race where everyone, no matter where they are in the field, goes through the same things over the four days of paddling. I’ll definitely be back,” said a tired but happy Manser.
The only competitor to complete the 2010 Freedom Challenge, Keith Little, finished the paddling leg of the epic journey in a respectable time of 24 hours and 15 minutes.
Mark von Bentheim, the Marketing manager for Windhoek South Africa, felt the event was a great success, saying: “The Berg is a great fit for our brand. It definitely fits the adventure lifestyle that Windhoek supports and represents.”
Next year the race celebrates its 50th anniversary.
- Hank McGregor 16:04.32
- Lance King 16:10.50
- Heinrich Schloms 16:13.04
- Marc Holtzhausen 16:31.28
- Pierre- Andre Rabie 16:34.06
- Robyn Kime 17:57.15
- Donna Winter 19:09.22
- Robyn Henderson 19:24.06
- Jemma Hofmeyr 19:36.51
- Romy Findlay 21:17.10
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