Ready for tough Dusi

2014-12-19 00:00

HE may be the oldest of the “Fantastic Four” but Thulani Mbanjwa is definitely not to be written off when the 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon gets under way at Camps Drift in February.

But there is very little pressure being applied from himself as he builds up to the iconic three-day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Having recorded a win at the Dusi in 2008 with Dusi Duke Martin Dreyer, the 31-year-old has come back well in the past six months with some solid performances in the Western and Eastern Cape through the winter, and these results have put him right back in the mix for the 2015 Dusi title.

“I am going really well at the moment and I am happy with how things have gone recently,” the Build-it/Williams Hunt paddler said. “I went down to Berg and Fish and got my best Fish result ever, which has really given me a lot of confidence, but I know that Dusi is different.”

Mbanjwa is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the race and the strength of the competition. However, the strength of his competitors is something that he is going to take in his stride and rather focus on his preparation for the race.

“The guys up front are going to be really strong this year and they have all won the race, which means that they know what it takes to win. Andy [Birkett] has done it on a number of occasions, but I am going to keep doing what I have done well in the past.

“The training has been going alright, I am usually training a lot harder at this stage than I am this year, but I am at a medium to hard level of training now and that is a choice of mine to go into the race with less pressure on myself,” Mbanjwa said.

A stellar field will assemble for the start of the 2015 Dusi and Mbanjwa is well aware of the threat that his younger competitors will pose. However, he knows his strengths well and has shaped his skills into something that he is comfortable will be able to stand up to the pressure from the other paddlers.

“I have been paddling for a long time and I know that my running isn’t as strong as it used to be, but I have made sure that I have improved my paddling to make up for my old age,” he chuckles.

“I have to be really good all round if I want to make a challenge for the race title with such tough competition and I need to limit the damage in the first 45 minutes because that is where the race is at its hottest.”

The man from the uMngeni Valley has become known for runs of bad luck at the Dusi and he is aware of this but he feels that 2015 will be the year where he will have a clean race.

“I have been put under pressure many times at the Dusi and I know that I have had some tough times, but I can’t afford to make any mistakes because the other guys will be there to take advantage of any slip-ups,” he said.

The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from February 19 to February 21, 2015.

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