A race to save the Duzi

2010-01-16 00:00

DURBAN — On January 21 extreme adventure racers Andrew King and Devlin Fogg will attempt to become the first competitors to complete the 120-kilometre Hansa Powerade Dusi canoe marathon carrying their kayak the entire way, as part of a groundbreaking initiative to raise awareness on the ecological challenges facing the Msunduzi and uMngeni rivers.

The Powerade Race For The River will see the nuggety duo running each of the three stages with their kayak on their shoulders, trying to stay as close to the banks of the rivers as is practically possible. Powerade and the team hope to focus attention on the challenges facing the environment along the race route, highlighting the work that is being done by the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct).

Duct was born out of canoeists’ concerns about pollution and environmental damage occurring on an ongoing basis along the two river systems, and in particular the hazard­ posed by ecoli levels responsible for the crippling “Dusi guts” illness that has dogged the race in recent years.

King and Fogg estimate that they will be able to complete each stage in roughly double the time that it will take the leaders to get to the finish line.

King is no stranger to seeking new challenges in the country’s oldest canoeing race.

He has completed the race numerous times, including an unofficial “up” Dusi (involving a mid­winter portage) from Durban to Pietermaritzburg­, a “sideways” Dusi, and last year’s “double” Dusi, where he raced each day twice with Brad Pearce to raise funds for a Bulwer orphanage.

Fogg is just as obsessed with extreme endurance challenges, and was part of a group that completed a nine-month odyssey from the North Pole to the South Pole using purely human energy to propel themselves around the globe.

“The health of a river system is entirely dependent on what is happening in its catchment,” said Duct spokesman Andrew Booth. “The Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust therefore has a wide spectrum of focuses­ in the Msunduzi and uMngeni­ catchments, one of which is combating sewage spills into the river. Our activities on the river are carried out throughout the year, but are intensified in the lead up to the Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon­.

“More than anything we need the paddlers to be our eyes and ears, and we hope that the Powerade Race For The River will establish a significant commitment to reporting problems when they see them so that we can act on their behalf,” he added.

Paddlers taking part in the race will each be given a sticker carrying the Duct hotline number, and will be encouraged to report any problems they see as they race down the Msunduzi and uMngeni rivers.

Powerade has supported the race since 1998 and the brand has a vested interest in giving back to the communities who are an integral part of the race and its success. The Powerade Race for the River aims to assist Duct by growing awareness of this organisation and its newly-established pollution hotline (033 345 7571), which communities and paddlers can use to report any damage to the environment along the rivers.

“Preservative-free Powerade sports drink is about putting the right ingredients and fluids back into your body to enable it to function to its full sporting potential. Much like the human body, the Duzi river works on a delicate ecosystem and it is necessary to reduce the amount of toxins in the river for it to function at its best,” said Ismail Nanabhay, Powerade’s brand manager.

“The river in recent years has attracted bad publicity around water quality,” Nanabhay added.

“This initiative serves to build awareness of the importance of putting the right ingredients and fluids into your body and keeping the wrong ingredients out of the river­.”

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