Berg River Marathon: Hank McGregor paddles closer to a record seventh win

2010-07-16 00:00

IN the second and shortest day of the Windhoek Berg River Canoe marathon, defending champion Hank McGregor made a critical move, on the full-flowing river, toward a record seventh Berg title, while a last-minute landmark decision, which allows female conten­ders to ride the waves of fellow male competitors, saw women in the race move into a new era.

The start of day two saw Lance King starting three seconds behind McGregor in elapsed time.

King worked hard to catch McGregor and they spent most of the day racing together, having dropped Heinrich Schloms just after the start.

“Hank wasn’t allowing Heinrich to catch us. It was a very clever move and I applaud him,” said King afterwards.

The river rose a dramatic 14 cumecs overnight after heavy rain drenched the Cape, throwing channels into play that would not normally be open.

This set the scene for a dramatic breakaway by McGregor, ensuring him a four-minute lead going into tomorrow’s 74,8 km day three stage.

Said McGregor, “Thirty-five minutes from the end of the race we came to a place where the river split into two channels; I took the right-hand line and Lance took the left. When I saw him again three minutes later at the end of the channel, he was 60 metres behind me. This is when I put down the hammer.”

As a paddler well schooled on the lines of the Berg, King said, “That line is not normally open; Hank took a risky line, which is unusual, but he pulled it off.”

In the women’s race, Robyn Kime opened up her day one lead to 30 minutes over second-placed Donna Winter.

The unexpected last-minute decision made by race officials, allowing elite women to ride male paddlers’ waves, has been met with mixed reactions from competitors.

Both Kime and Winter agreed that competing on the same waves and finishing within 10% of the men’s time is the only means to eventually have prize money for both men and women equalised.

Further back in the field, Solo Adventurer Riaan Manser, who has only been paddling on the river for over a month, spoke to us about his experience on day one of the Berg.

“Since this is the fourth time I am sitting in my boat, I feel like I am doing remarkably well.

“I felt strong at yesterday’s finish, despite my 10 swims — one of which happened when I turned around to chat to a fellow competitor.”

Tomorrow is the longest stage of the Berg, with paddlers undertaking the 74,8 km from Bridgetown to Zoutkloof. For more information, visit www.windhoekberg.co.za.

Day two overall results

Men: 1. Hank McGregor 7:21.05; 2. Lance King 7:24.54; 3. Heinrich Schloms 7:27.02; 4. Pierre- Andre Rabie 7:37.59; 5. Edgar Boehm Jnr 7:40.48; 6. Marc Holtzhausen 7:45.23; 7. Alasdair Glass 7:51.06

Women: 1. Robyn Kime 8:22.11; 2. Donna Winter 8:52.00; 3. Robyn Henderson 8:57.31

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