A fascinating clash

2014-02-28 00:00

ONE hundred and fifty-six brave souls are set to take on the daunting task of today’s Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon, which sees participants paddle and run their way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban along much of the famous Dusi route, in just a single day.

With the mercury set to head past the 30° mark, together with clear skies and a medium water level predicted, this year’s already testing ordeal through the Umsunduzi and Umngeni River valleys appears it may well become even tougher.

The men’s title race promises to be a fascinating clash, as the powerful Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa go head-to-head with the unlikely combination of 2014 Dusi champion Sbonelo Zondi and canoe marathon world champion Hank McGregor.

Having had their Dusi title hopes dashed just kilometres from the start of the race earlier this month, Best 4 Healthcare/EuroSteel’s Kime and Build it’s Mbanjwa will be hoping a Non-Stop Dusi victory will help heal the last of the Dusi wounds.

With his confidence sky-high after his and EuroSteel team-mate Andy Birkett’s feat just a couple of weeks ago, Zondi will, however, be extremely tough to beat, especially with arguably the world’s greatest paddler ever, McGregor of Kayak Centre/Team Jeep in the boat with him.

With the Computershare Change a Life trio of EuroSteel’s Kwanda Mhlophe and Mmeli Cele, Thomas Ngidi and Banesti Nkhoesa as well as Zonele Nzuza and Nhlanhla Cele all enjoying the presence of at least one member having stood on the Non-Stop Dusi podium previously, it will undoubtedly be yet another tough day out for the two pre-race favourite crews, should they seek victory.

Fellow former Non-Stop Dusi podium finisher Kelvin Trautman, and his Duct/Syngenta team-mate David Wood, as well as Andrew Houston and Carl Folscher will also almost certainly be in the mix and likely to be counting themselves in with a good chance of a top-ranked result.

These seven K2 crews, together with the likes of Mark Mulder, Marc Germiquet and the under-23 Wilson twins Tyler and Travis, who are all competing in K1s, is set to produce a fascinating contest throughout the gruelling endurance event.

The women’s race can be seen as the battle of the K1 versus the K2.

Five-time Dusi winner Robyn Kime goes in search of Non-Stop Dusi victory number two alone while fellow Best 4 Healthcare/Kayak Centre team-mate Abby Adie and her twin sister, Alex, hope to overcome their respective Dusi disappointments and claim a rare title together.

As if tackling the event alone wasn’t tough enough, Kime’s challenge was made even harder yesterday morning as she was still limping around after her recent 240 km Drakensberg Grand Traverse effort.

The mixed doubles category has once again caught the attention of some of the country’s finest river paddlers and will see the division’s defending champions Jen and Jacques Theron go up against the last-minute combo of Hilary Bruss and Shaun Griffin.

While these two streak ahead, a curious battle between husband and wife pairing Ross and Laura O’Donoghue, Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius as well as dating double Jane Swarbreck and Ant Bown is set to unfold for the last step on the podium.

Eric Bothma may not be anywhere near the front of the field, however, the only man ever to have finished all 16 previous editions of the race will take on the challenge once more with partner Zane Driemeyer while a handful of others look to successfully complete their 10th Non-Stop Dusi.

Racing gets under way at 5.30 am at Camps Drift, with the leading men expected to reach the finish at Durban’s Blue Lagoon around 1 pm.

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