50Miler will be a fast affair

2007-12-01 00:00

Almost 900 paddlers will gather early today at Misson Rapid on the uMsindusi River for the start of Umzinyathi Canoe Club’s annual Chemspec 50Miler.

After Thursday night’s huge storm in the catchment, the Dusi is flowing strongly and will help a great deal in making the 50Miler the “paddling” foil to the “running” Hansa Powerade Duzi that it was originally intended to be.

Up at the front of the two-day marathon, with Ant Stott, Hank McGregor and Len Jenkins all conspicuous by their absence, we can expect the overall winners to come from a group of about five boats.

Jacques Theron and Piers Cruikshanks are certainly the best on current results, but pre-Duzi tactics and the settling of partnerships always plays a part at this time of a K2 season and the results of the smaller races can often be misleading.

Thus Sven Bruss with Wayne Thompson, Martin Dreyer with Michael Mbanjwa, Deon Bruss with Nick Stubbs, and Mike Harris with Philli Nieman are all in the frame.

Among the juniors there is also a mix of old and new combinations. Top on the ladder are Ben Biggs and Andrew Birkett followed closely by Stuart Waterworth and Matt Cullen who have been plagued by misfortune recently and are performing well below their potential.

Then there are the new U16 combinations of Clinton Cook with Darren Berriman, Shaun Austin with Brett Dorman, and the Cele brothers from Nagle Dam.

The women’s event is a little easier to predict. Kirsty van der Merwe with Sarah Saunders, Laura Thompson with Robyn Kime, and Hillary Pitchford with Bebbie Germiquet are the top three at present with Kate Frost and Nicky Irvine close behind. However, there is also the untried combination of Lindy Harmsen with Epworth’s Abie Adie in the mix. Epworth’s Lauren Hendry and Kate Johnson is the only girls’ pairing to have entered.

The race starts at 7 am today and Day 1 finishes just before the Ngumeni Hill portage on the Umgeni. On Sunday the start is from the Msinsi camp on Inanda Dam and the finish at Kingfisher Canoe Club on Blue Lagoon.

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