Bold rebrand for Dusi race season starter

2014-09-26 00:00

THE build-up to the 2015 Dusi canoe marathon gets under way on October 19, with the aptly renamed Umpetha Challenge, which uses the Zulu word for “champion” to denote its status as the first Dusi seeding race that usually attracts every elite paddler with aspirations of Dusi glory.

The race, which since its inception has been wholly managed and run by the development team from Natal Canoe Club, has become hugely popular and well run, and was last year named the One Day Race of the Year at the KZN Canoe Union Awards.

The name “Umpetha Challenge” was chosen by the thriving development squad under the chairmanship of Dusi veteran Thuthu Manyathi that has turned the relatively new race on the calendar into a well-established success story.

“This is a race that tests the early season fitness, and running in particular, of all the paddlers hoping to be a Dusi champion in February,” said Manyathi.

“We were very proud to be awarded Race of the Year earlier this year, so the name Umpetha means it is a champion race in many different senses,” he added.

Recent winners of the race include Len Jenkins, and Andy Birkett and his partner Sbonelo Khwela, at the start of their superb campaign to win last season’s Dusi K2 crown.

Khwela, widely recognised as one of the fastest runners with a kayak on his shoulders, had to admit after last year’s victory that he “was broken after the run up to Bishopstowe Hall”.

Backed by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, the event was designed to afford the NCC Development Squad a key opportunity to manage an entire top level Dusi race, from planning and budgeting to on-the-day execution of the plethora of duties expected from a heavily supported Dusi qualifier and seeding race.

The race covers the first 16 km of the Dusi Canoe Marathon course, from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to the Bishopstowe Farmers Hall at the top of the first long portage through the Pine Trees at Campbell’s Farm.

It will also challenge the paddlers with the usual obstacles on the river before the Pine Tree portage take-out, including the Ernie Pearce Weir, Commercial Road weir, Musson’s Weir, Highway Rapid, Low Level Bridge and Taxi Rapid, before the energy sapping run up the Pines Portage before doubling back to the finish at the Bishopstowe Farmers Hall.

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