McGregor and Holden tops again at Ithala

2010-11-24 00:00

HANK McGregor and Ken Holden teamed up for their second win in the Bell Ithala Challenge at the weekend, having won the race together in 2007 as well.

Their winning time of 2:56:7 was the second fastest in the history of the race. Jen Hodson and Jacques Theron set the record, 1 min 24 sec faster, in 2009, with the nine kilometres on the flooding Pongola at +100 cumecs making the difference.

This year, while the 34 km of the Bivane River from the start at the Bivane Dam down to the confluence with the Pongola was at the usual 18 cumec level, the Pongola was at a more conservative 30 cumecs.

Wayne Wilson and Gary Clarke took the second place on Saturday with the winning K1 of Shaun Griffin in third place overall.

Abby Adie won the women’s race in an excellent 14th place overall from the only girl, U16 junior Brittany Petersen, with the Sub-Veteran’s double of Antje Manfroni and Anna Clifford-Arwidi in third place.

The boys’ race was an all- Michaelhouse affair with Andrew Houston and Craig Smorfitt winning from Matthew Heenan and Jonathan Dean and Luke Strachan in a K1 third.

The Ithala, raced in memory of its founder, Julius Schmidt, is more of a adventure than a straight canoe race and attracts a relatively small, adventurous field — 206 paddlers in 120 boats took part in the one-day classic with 111 boats completing the course. This 91% finishing count is excellent for the very testing A+ course.

On Sunday, following the cancellation of the Wagendrift Dam to Estcourt race due to very low water in the Bushman’s River, the rest of KZN’s paddlers had another Upper Umgeni race available thanks to a last-minute rescue by Midmar Canoe Club.

Lance Kime, on holiday from his studies at Stellenbosch, won the race from Carl Folscher and Warren Lancaster.

Juniors Brett Willson and Calvin Griffiths took the fourth and fifth places overall with the third junior U16 Richard Tait.

Hillary Pitchford won the women’s race from Jean Hackland and Marion Young.

The race also gave a good opportunity for those novices needing last couple of qualifiers ahead of the Landrover 50 Miler just two weeks away, with 167 paddlers turning out on the day.

A busy week lies ahead in KZN Canoeing. Stella Canoe Club opened their new clubhouse on the Silt Canal yesterday, there is a Duct benefit race at Kingfisher in Durban tomorrow at 5.30 pm and another clubhouse opening, that of Marine Life Saving Club, at Addington on Friday.

Then on Saturday, the country’s best sprinters will be at Nagle Dam for the CSA Sprint Squad Trials. There will be 200 and 500 m events for women’s K1s and K2s and 200 m and 1000 m events for men in the same boat classes. Racing begins at 8 am.

On Sunday, Kingfisher are hosts for the first Umkomaas race of the season when the No. 8 to Josephines Bridge race starts at 9 am.

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