Birkett claims Berg stage in bare feet

2014-07-19 00:00

ZOUTKLOOF — His feet might have been cold, but when the pace heated up Dusi champion Andy Birkett didn’t get cold feet.

The KwaZulu-Natal paddler, competing with bare feet in the cold, wet and rain, won the third stage of the Berg River Marathon yesterday with a strong final dash.

The 23-year-old won the second stage in similar fashion on Thursday.

He starts today’s final stage, 58,7 km to Velddrif on the West Coast, with a slender 10-second lead.

Second and third are Cape paddlers Graeme Solomon, who was three seconds behind Birkett yesterday, and Simon van Gysen 17 seconds behind yesterday.

These three and defending champion Lance King, who fell behind on day one because of cramps, worked together yesterday.

The last 10 km was paddled into a strong headwind.

Birkett said he passed a second without picking up his hydration bottle. “I was too scared the other guys would pass me.

“My feet got very cold,” he said, trying to warm the one on the other at the finish.

“It was a very tough stage and I learnt today that paddling 20 km a day while training for the Berg is just not enough.”

It is his first Berg in six years.

Today’s stage has fewer obstacles and can suit a strong paddler like the under 23 world champion.

The 41-year-old Solomon said it is crucial not to make any mistakes on the final day. “Today’s stage was long. It’s not easy to paddle to five and a half hours in difficult conditions like these,” he said.

Jasper Mocké, the highly regarded Fish Hoek sea paddler, who is undertaking his first Berg, let his paddle do the talking on the Misverstand dam early yesterday, but couldn’t catch the leaders.

He paid a steep price for his efforts, finishing six minutes behind the leaders in overall fourth place, a full nine minutes behind Birkett.

“After I fell behind [on Thursday], I had to try something like that,” he said.

He was up with the lead group at the portage near the low-water bridge at Moravia, but when he put back in, he didn’t get his boat back into the main flow of the river.

“From there they dropped me,” said Mocké. On day two, he got tangled up in low-hanging trees and lost time.

Abbie Adie is still leading the women’s race.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.