Bumper Dusi finish planned

2012-12-19 00:00

ORGANISERS of the country’s most famous river marathon, The Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon, are confident the revolutionary concept of a rearranged start procedure on the final day of the three-day spectacle will end the 62nd edition of the three-day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in a fitting climax.

The core of the exciting plan is to allow the majority of participants to finish the final stage, and then start the title contenders later in the morning to allow the 2013 winner to reach Blue Lagoon to a hero’s welcome.

“We feel things are very much on track for this new concept to be implemented in February’s race,” said Brett Austen-Smith, general manager of Natal Canoe Club, the host organisation of the KZN-based event.

“The idea has grown from a mere concept to something that is very real and a structure that the paddlers should start viewing as very likely to happen next year,” he added.

As one of the major events on KZN’s sporting calendar, one would expect the top performers of this iconic race to be greeted by streams of excited supporters lining the banks of Durban’s Blue Lagoon, the annual venue of Saturday’s third and final day.

Instead though, due to the remarkably short time these world-class athletes take to reach the finish, most of the local community hasn’t even stirred and their fellow competitors are only setting off from the start line at Inanda Dam and hence have had to become accustomed to the relatively dull atmosphere as they complete their impressive feats.

“We want to bring the finish of the Dusi into the public eye far more and, if this does happen, then everyone will benefit immensely,” said Austen-Smith.

“The only major issue left us to overcome is to try come to an arrangement that will see Umgeni Water give us an additional three hours of a water release so that water levels for the top guys, who will start at 11 am, are very similar to the one’s the guys who started at 5.30 am in B batch had.”

Having regularly finished in the top five of the three-day paddling spectacle from Pietermaritzburg, Hank McGregor knows all too well the somewhat bitter-sweet emotion associated with crossing the line in front of a handful of supporters.

McGregor has been one of the particularly vocal elite paddling voices supporting the event organisers’ push to revolutionise the format of the race’s final day.

“I think it will be absolutely fantastic for everyone concerned if the rearranged start procedure does happen at next year’s Dusi,” said McGregor.

“The paddlers, the local communities and the whole media will all be able to be a part of the hype, which can only be a good thing,” he added.

A final decision on the matter will be made closer to the race’s start date on February 14.

The race ends in Durban on February 16. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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