Week’s breather before Fish River

2014-08-20 00:00

CRADOCK — Elite paddlers aiming for success at the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon on October 10 and 11 are breathing a sigh of relief as the calendar shift gives them an extra week to recover from the World Marathon Championships in the U.S.

The global title showcase is usually the weekend before the Fish, leaving the national team athletes in a frantic race to fly home and recover ahead of the Fish campaign.

This year the Fish moves a week later to accommodate school holidays, leaving two weeks between the events and easing the pressure for the elite racers seeing action at the World Champs in Oklahoma City on September 27 and 28.

Although still tight, the gap should mean a significantly less frantic turnaround for the large South African contingent of juniors, U23s, seniors, veterans and masters taking part in the World Champs and ICF Canoe Marathon Masters Cup respectively.

The physical demand of a tight racing schedule has its challenges. One of the most significant of these is not the racing, but the foreign staging of the international spectacle resulting in a long haul back on the Monday, to arrive in South Africa on Tuesday and have just enough time to unpack, repack and leave for Cradock.

The longer gap between events will play a key role in those heading to Oklahoma overcoming both jetlag and the relatively prevalent travel-related illnesses.

South Africa’s globally-renowned paddling icon Hank McGregor and his regular Fish doubles partner Grant van der Walt were two who dug deep to clinch the Cradock title last year after feeling “under the weather” on their return from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The pair had enough left to claim a record fourth consecutive K2 title as a combination. However four-time Dusi champ Andy Birkett’s 2013 Fish hopes were dashed entirely, together with those of partner Cam Schoeman, after he fell ill during his return flight after his victorious U23 World Champs effort.

While the demands of international travel and jetlag are still on the cards ahead of this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, the paddlers will relish the extra few days’ break they have been afforded this time around.

The Hansa Fish River Canoe marathon takes place on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 October 2014.

More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za

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