Hard work pays off for PMB pupils while Player gets a fitting tribute

2015-02-23 00:00

THIS year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon came to an record-breaking end on Saturday with many young Pietermaritzburg athletes taking top positions.

Among those athletes were Cana Peek (16) from Epworth and Alan Houston (18) from Michaelhouse.

Cana finished first in the under 18 girl’s category and second overall behind race leader Laura O’Donoghue.

Houston on the other hand, who is in ­matric this year, claimed the under 18 boy’s junior championship in his third ­Dusi thus far.

“I don’t think it’s settled in but I’m definitely going to be chuffed. I’ve worked hard and I’ve trained hard,” Houston said after exiting the water on Saturday.

Cana and Alan, along with approximately 1 400 other competitors were welcomed by cheering supporters ­gathered along the banks of Blue Lagoon in Durban.

At the M4 highway bridge everyone’s heads were turned towards the M4 highway bridge in eager anticipation to see their favourite paddlers come round the final bend. The specatators gave a standing ovation to thhe two very special men who completed the marathon in replica canvas canoes in memory of the late Dr Ian Player.

Pietermaritzburg’s Hugh Raw (74) and Gauteng’s Ian Ross (72) took on the three-day race using canvas and wood crafted canoes that they hand-made for the race, similar to the one Player would have had to use 60 years ago.

Raw said that commemorating Player was a good and appropriate idea but the race was quite difficult.

“It was slow and hard but we enjoyed it. The canvas boat has to be paddled differently and does not have a splash cover so you have to avoid the little drops in the waves that can fill up the boat,” Raw said. “If it fills up then you’re in a submarine not a canoe.”

After most of the contestants were through by mid-afternoon, a prize-giving ceremony was conducted on the banks of the river for this year’s top contestants as well as those legends who have been taking part for decades.

This year, Andy Birkett and Laura O’Donoghue took top spots in their race divisions. Birkett also became the first man in history to finish the race in less than eight hours, breaking the ­current record by five minutes.

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