Miedema set to defend her title in thrilling Drak Challenge

2008-02-19 00:00

Underberg — Reigning “Dusi Queen” Abbey Miedema has confirmed that she will be on the startline for the Hansa Powerade Drakensberg Challenge next weekend to defend the title she won last year.

The cheerful 28-year-old from Cape Town has completed a stellar month of river racing in KZN that saw her retain her Hansa Powerade Dusi title with Alexa Lombard and then romp home to win the women’s division of the tough Stihl Non-Stop Dusi with Laura Thompson.

“I can’t wait for the Drak, it is one of my favourite races of the year,” she enthused. Miedema won the 2007 women’s title in demanding low-river conditions, which look very unlikely to be repeated this year, as heavy rains in the southern Drakensberg have left the Umzimkulu River swollen and fast-flowing.

“I love the fact that this race is entirely dependent on the prevailing weather and rainfall for its water, as it introduces an element of the unknown each year, and makes each race a different challenge to the year before.”

Miedema was elated at clinching the women’s title in 2007, as it settled her frustrations at her 2006 challenge that ended when she broke her paddle at the Glenhaven rapid, ending a thrilling duel with eventual winner Carol Joyce.

“There is something special about the Drak. It’s a major race, and attracts all the top paddlers, but there is a special fun vibe to the whole event. The water is so clean as well … I also love spending time in Underberg.

“It’s a unique challenge. The stages are shorter, but the river is technically demanding. The rapids … are pretty much non-stop, and require thought to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. To do well in the Drak you have to be a pretty accomplished river racer,” she said.

Miedema will line up alongside river racing stars Robyn Kime, Tiffany Kruger and Emma Gilmer, while there is still a chance that Alexa Lombard will enter during the week of the race, as she is travelling to KZN for the Sani-2C cycle race, which she is doing with Miedema.

The Hansa Powerade Drakensberg Challenge takes place in Underberg on February 23 and 24. More information at www.drak.co.za.

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