Non-Stop records tumble

2015-03-07 00:00

THE landscape of the Non-Stop Dusi changed yesterday as both K1 records fell and the relatively unknown Nhlanhla Cele claimed a hard-fought victory with veteran Thulani Mbanjwa.

However, the day belonged to Laura O’Donoghue who added a new women’s K1 Non-Stop record to her maiden Dusi title she claimed two weeks ago.

Mbanjwa won the 2014 Vaal in Gauteng but the last time he stood on the top step of the podium in an event in his home province was in 2011 when he and Sbonelo Khwela won the “Dusi-in-a-day”.

Despite his lack of local wins, Mbanjwa remained hugely positive throughout his dry spell before enjoying one of his best Dusi build-up campaigns ahead of last month’s three-day tussle where he finished fourth.

“It is so sweet to win a big race again,” he said.

“I have always been there and thereabouts without being able to get over the line and win, but I worked so hard before Dusi and felt really fit a week before Non-Stop. I gave Nhlanhla a call and I’m glad I did.

“He was strong the whole way and I’m happy for him. He really deserves this result.”

The result was a career highlight for 27-year-old Cele, whose previous best performance was a Non-Stop third place with brother Richard in 2011.

His first Non-Stop win yesterday came in a dominant display as he and Mbanjwa led from start to finish.

Some hair-raising moments and the expected physical and mental fatigue along the way saw a cat and mouse affair unfold behind them as Sbonelo Khwela and Lance Kime closed the gap.

After Kime “hit the wall” halfway across Inanda Dam it was a two-horse race and Khwela ran the Burma Road portage like a man possessed, narrowing the gap to just half a minute in the dying stages.

In the end it was Mbanjwa and Cele who were too strong for Khwela’s charging K1 as they floated into Blue Lagoon in Durban in 7:44.44.

“Wow that was close,” laughed Khwela after giving his all on Burma Road. “Then we ran out of water just above Mango Rapid and I thought maybe I had a chance to catch the double but Thulani and Nhlanhla went really well … [in the deeper water].”

“It was a great race and I’m happy with how it went for me, my first time doing Non-Stop in a K1.”

Kime claimed the final step on the podium in his final outing before he jets off to spend some time working and travelling abroad.

Dusi gold medalists this year, Mhlonishwa Hlongwane and Banesti Nkhoesa, edged out Nhlanhla Cele’s brother and Change a Life team-mate Richard and Natal Canoe Club Development programme product Mfaniseni Nyawose for fourth.

“I’m happy to end on this note,” said Kime. “I enjoyed the first half of the race but my legs said no more on the Dam Hill portage.

“After I fell off the pace a bit I thought I would be able to paddle around instead of going over Burma, but my seconds beckoned me over and I ended up getting the whole Non-Stop experience.”

With a maiden Dusi title under her belt after her resounding effort at the three-day clash two weeks ago, O’Donoghue returned to absolutely annihilate the previous women’s K1 record set by Robyn Kime in 2012 by well over 10 minutes.

Said a tired but satisfied O’Donoghue afterwards: “I felt strong thoughout the day and I enjoyed it, although from halfway I was on my own, which was quite eerie.

“I was always going to go around Burma and it all went well. I am just happy to be home.”

Overall Results

Thulani Mbanjwa/Nhlanhla Cele 7:44.44

Sbonelo Khwela 7:48.08

Lance Kime 8:04.51

Mhlonishwa Hlongwane/Banesti Nkhoesa 8:15.40

Richard Cele/Mfaniseni Nyawose 8:45.24

Women

Laura O’Donoghue 9:24.55

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