Zondi’s fairytale season

2014-03-01 00:00

RECENTLY crowned 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Sbonelo Zondi’s fairytale KwaZulu-Natal river marathon season continued yesterday when he and triple Canoe Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor claimed a commanding victory in the exhausting Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Having clinched this year’s Dusi title just two weeks ago with Euro Steel partner Andy Birkett, Zondi again showed why he is regarded as one of the top emerging stars on the Msunduzi and Mngeni rivers as his and Kayak Centre/Team Jeep’s McGregor’s efforts handed Zondi a rare Dusi and Non-Stop Dusi double.

“It is just unbelievable to have won both the Dusi and the Non-Stop Dusi this year,” said a thrilled Zondi afterwards.

“I’m especially happy because Andy [Birkett] and I worked so, so hard before Dusi and so it’s really nice to enjoy the rewards now.

“I would also like the thank Hank for agreeing to be my partner right at the last minute as well as our seconding crew; without them we probably would have been tempted to have pulled out at some point today,” he added with a weary chuckle.

For McGregor, who took the event by storm in 2006 when he became the first person to win in a K1, the win is his second Non-Stop Dusi title.

“It is really hard to explain how much pain we went through, especially going over Burma Road portage,” he said.

“It was an honour to paddle with Sbonelo today. He was just so strong and now I know exactly why he won the Dusi this year, he deserved it.

“To have only paddled together for the first time on Thursday night at five o’clock and then to come here and win, it’s a really awesome feeling,” added McGregor.

Having had Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa close the gap between themselves and McGregor and Zondi to just 20 seconds at the bottom of the Nqumeni Hill portage, McGregor and Zondi knew they were going to have to dig deep in order to shake their rivals.

“Hank was unreal on the water from Nqumeni to the Inanda Dam wall,” said Zondi. “We knew that was when we were going to have to push to try get well ahead of Lance [Kime] and Bungee [Mbanjwa].

“Hank really pushed me on the water and I tried to push on the portages.”

Despite the valley’s heat, a medium to low water level convinced McGregor and Zondi to make the brave decision to run the notorious Burma Road portage, a decision which reaped its rewards but not without much suffering along the way.

Despite having finished over 12 minutes behind the leaders, second-placed Kime and Mbanjwa put in a stellar effort and pushed the leaders for much of the first half of the contest. “Hank and Sbonelo were just stronger than us today,” said a humble Kime afterwards. “It was tight until Nqumeni but once they got away, they just stretched and stretched their lead and there was simply no catching them.”

“The Non-Stop Dusi is such a tough race,” added Mbanjwa. “Just when you think you’ve prepared for the race it just keeps getting harder and harder.”

The runners-up also had their struggles throughout the long day with their perennial lean returning to make their race even tougher.

“We’ve struggled with a lean since we started paddling together and today was no different,” said Kime.

“I was also still really feeling it in my legs from the Drakensberg Grand Traverse I did a couple of days ago so I definitely couldn’t push as hard as I would have liked on the portages.

“Take nothing away from Hank and Sbonelo though. They were the stronger crew today and very well done to them.” he added.

The first of a horde of Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy crews across the line was third placed Zonele Nzuza and Nhlanhla Cele who occupied the position for the majority of the long day.

The women’s race was a ding-dong battle for much of the early part of the encounter as the Adie twins, Abby and Alex, went up against Robyn Kime in her K1. The Adies managed to edge ahead for the first time at Mission Rapid and, aided by Kime picking up a hole in the bottom of her boat, managed to steadily pull away and make the title their own. “It really is so special to have won with my sister, especially after my Dusi disappointment,” said Abby.

Summary of results

Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon


1. Hank McGregor/Sbonelo Zondi 7:44:45

2. Lance Kime/Thulani Mbanjwa 8:06:11

3. Zonele Nzuza/Nhlanhla Cele 8:19:39

4. Kelvin Trautman/David Wood 8:24:40

5. Kwanda Mhlophe/Mmeli Cele 8:31:17

6. Andrew Houston/Carl Folscher 8:46:33

7. Thomas Ngidi/Banesti Nkhoesa 8:52:01

8. Jacques Theron/Jen Theron (Mixed) 8:53:18

9. Abby Adie/Alex Adie (Women) 8:53:50

10. Travis Wilson (K1) 8:59:52


1. Abby Adie/Alex Adie 8:53:50

2. Robyn Kime (K1) 9:19:57

Mixed Doubles:

1. Jacques Theron/Jen Theron 8:53:18

2. Shaun Griffin/Hilary Bruss 9:27:12

3. Ross O’Donoghue/Laura O’Donoghue 9:42:53

K1: 1. Travis Wilson 8:59:52

2.Siboniso Shozi 9:01:31

3.Marc Germiquet 9:07:13

4.Mhlonishwa Hlongwane 9:19:56

5.Robyn Kime (Women) 9:19:57.

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