Peek’s all-time peak

2015-02-24 00:00

SHE may not have won the women’s race at the weekend’s Dusi Canoe Marathon, but Epworth schoolgirl Cana Peek (16) had spectators and fellow paddlers sitting up to take note as she finished second to Laura O’Donoghue.

For someone so young to produce such a result and keep at bay charging U23 paddler Jenna Ward speaks ­volumes for the sport, the calibre of ­talent being nurtured and Peek’s maturity beyond her years.

A performance such as this must surely pave the way for bigger things in the annual three-day trip from Pietermaritzburg to Durban for the youngster and it’s a case of sooner rather than later as to when she will get her name and hands on the winner’s trophy.

But paddlers are a relaxed bunch. They seem to zone into a place only they know of when they hit the water, taking the good with the bad and accepting what nature throws their way, all in the name of enjoyment and experience.

Although she was second from day one of the race, Peek maintained a broad smile and the expression of a naughty schoolgirl who had been caught doing something wrong. She couldn’t quite believe what she had done and what was unfolding for her as the race went on.

“I am excited and never expected to be second,” she said at Dusi Bridge after the first day. “I will just take things as they come and enjoy running, as it helps relax my shoulders.”

Despite a charging Ward on day two, Peek kept her position and was again relaxed and full of smiles at Inanda Dam.

“There were thoughts I would crumble today [day two] as it is the longest day of the race and takes in plenty of paddling, especially on the dam, which is not my strongest discipline,” Peek said.

There were a few mishaps along the way for Peek, spinning out at one of the rapids and having minor rudder problems, but it was all taken as a day’s work.

All she had to do was hold on to her position on the last day to ensure a strong spot on the podium. O’Donoghue was far ahead and out of sight and Peek’s major concern was keeping Ward off her tail.

That she did, despite nearly losing it at the Burma Road portage.

“I lost my footing on some loose gravel at the bottom of Burma and went tumbling after my boat,” said Peek. “There was no choice but to get up, dig in and keep going. I had to keep running and focused, despite the scratches all over me.”

Ward, who chose to paddle around Burma, used the opportunity to close right in on Peek, just seconds behind her at Silver Pipe Line and Blue Lagoon beckoning.

In a twist of irony having mentioned that paddling was not her strong point, it was here that Peek called in her time of need, digging in and paddling for all she was worth to hold off Ward on the last stretch of flatwater to the finish.

This was undoubtedly the highlight of Peek’s fledgling paddling carrer.

“I was so excited and couldn’t believe what I had achieved,” she said. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought I would do so well at this year’s race and just took things as they came. It’s just such a surprise.”

Cana was the first U18 women paddler across the line and she finished two spots ahead of older sister Jordan, who was the second U23 women paddler across the line behind Ward and fourth overall.

Epworth girls enjoyed a strong Dusi this year. Besides Peek’s achievement, Christie Mackenzie and Jamie-Lee Robertson claimed second and third in the women’s U18 category, Mackenzie finishing eighth overall and Robertson eleventh in the women’s race.

Thirteen Epworth girls completed the race.

• Seven Kearsney paddlers tackled the 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon with the school’s top three paddlers all finishing in the top 30 (U18).

Tim Marsh — 126th overall (18th U18)

Rory McNeill — 175th overall (23rd U18)

Evan Knight — 275th overall (30th U18)

Gavin Keeley — 299th overall (35th U18)

Matthew Pitcher — 475th overall (7th U16)

Stuart McCleave — 598th overall (45th U18)

Luke Plotts — 762nd overall

Michaelhouse’s Dusi Results

Alan Houston — 16th overall (1st U18)

Charles Houston — 43rd overall (5th U18)

Craig Heenan — 69th overall (10th U18)

Emanuel Zaloumis — 102nd overall (1st U16)

Brandon Macleod — 114th overall (16th U18)

Kelvin Green — 133rd overall (20th U18)

Daniel Dillon — 144th overall (2nd U16)

Declan Clackworthy — 258th overall (31st U18)

James Crowe and father — 295th overall (111th Snr K2)

William Lyle — 435th overall (42nd U18)

Warwick Albertyn and father — 804th overall (378th SNR K2)

Hilton College’s Dusi Results

Thomas Lovemore — 107th overall

Craig Jarvie and Jeremy Braithewaite — 299th overall

Campbell Crowe and Thomas Stokes — 322nd overall

Nick Jensen and Hamish Lovemore — 393rd overall

• MARITZBURG College had seven boys paddle in the U18 age group. Best of them was Brandon Orpwood who was 8th (56th overall). Stewart Little and Regan Turnbull were the first U18 K2 to finish, 26th in their age group and 195th overall. Second U18 K2 home, 29th in the U18 category and 248th overall were David Smith and Murray MacKenzie. Tristan Drummond was 32nd (U18) and 273 overall, while Nicolas Smuts finished 46th (U18) and 618 overall. Orpwood unfortunately swam on day one at the start and ended fourth on day two. On the final day he lost a paddle at Tops Needle, taking a swim and losing 11 places, dropping from fourth to eighth in the U18 race. Smuts broke his boat on day two.

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