Berg River canoe marathon: ‘This is the toughest race on the planet’

2012-07-04 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Eight-times champion Hank McGregor tops the list of entries for the 2012 Berg River Canoe marathon as entries continue to stream into the race HQ. The word is that good rains are likely for the 51st edition of the 220 km race from Paarl to Velddrif, from July 11 to July 14.

The tough Team Best 4 athlete, who is the current world K1 marathon champion, made no bones about his respect for the race and the reason it draws him back to the region where he was raised as a child.

“I have raced all over the world and there is no doubt at all that this is the toughest race on the planet,” said McGregor, who has just finished third in the Mauritius Ocean Classic surfski marathon.

McGregor will start alongside a very strong field of Cape paddlers eager to dethrone him after a decade of dominance in the Cape classic canoe marathon, which this year carries the extra status of recognition on the International Canoe Federations new World Marathon circuit.

Heinrich Schloms, Simon van Gysen and Edgar Boehm Jnr have all lodged their entries, while traditional Berg stalwarts Graeme Solomon and Lance King are expected to submit their entries in the coming week.

A strong Gauteng contingent of highly experienced Berg racers fronted by six-times winner and the nineties’ “King of the Berg” Robbie Herreveld, along with the class of former winners Jacques Theron and Graham Monteith.

With 162 entries already processed, and dozens more in the pipeline, the race will boast a big field but will not challenge the record of 365 starters in last years commemorative 50th anniversary edition of the race.

The race will be a few kilometres shorter as well, as the race reverts to its traditional finish at the national road bridge at Velddrif, instead of the Port Owen finish on the coast that was used for last year’s race.

“It remains the ultimate challenge in competitive canoeing,” said race committee head Andre Collins, who tops the list of race finishers with the evergreen Giel van Deventer. They have 42 medals to their credit.

The Berg River Canoe marathon, presented by Best 4 Healthcare, starts in Paarl on July 11 and ends at Velddrif on July 14. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za

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