Dusi Klutz blog 4: Oops! I did it again

2009-01-16 00:00

You know you have those nightmares that you’ve gone to the airport to leave for London or New York, but you’ve left your passport at home; or you’ve got a career-important meeting and your main documents aren’t in your briefcase. I have them all the time. Sometimes they also come true. Like today:

The ill-fated water bottle which hit me on the head yesterday was once again at the centre of attention today. Or rather, it wasn’t at all. I left it standing very neatly on my coffee table. Wondering around the start of the second day of the Dusi for some time, I kept having this vision, but kept putting it off, “nah, I’m just being paranoid”. I wasn’t. With 30 minutes until my batch was to embark. I went to the car to get changed. People must have walked past rather bemused at the sight of things getting flung out the car in a dizzying moment of craziness as I turned from a state of calmnes into one of utter agitation. I think I like to test myself – see how quick I can think and sort out a situation so dire. For without liquid on a scorcher of a day, as today was, I might as well have had a whole in my boat and a broken paddle. I wouldn’t have made it passed the first portage, Saddles.

I run, wallet in hand, down to the one and only supplies trailer. They have a water bottle but it isn’t the one with the tube to suck from. The man at the counter does some magical stuff and the next second, I have a new liquid system. 20 minutes to go. Now I am really sweating. Dripping in fact. I run to the marshals and ask for water. They find as many water bottles lying around and the next thing I know I have a full bottle of ice-cold water. It’s not the Powerade I had in my other, but it’ll do. It’ll do because I am the next thing off from a Dusi Rat (that’s someone who has completed more than five Dusis). I am a Dusi Brat. My mom, Hilton Pharmacy’s Trish le Cordeur, got a call from me the other day, “mom, please prepare me a Dusi package.” “Who do you think you are?” she replies. “Your son. I love you.” So I was given a packet with the most remarkable little sachets of everything and anything you’d need to stay alive whilst climbing Mount Everest. Or doing the Dusi. In my frenzy I put my hand in the packet and grabbed as much of the sachets as I could and put them into my splash cover’s poach. Then I got dressed. 10 minutes to go. I dash down to collect my boat and, just like that, I was standing in the queue to get in to the water, and to everyone else, I could have been the most organised paddler to rock these shores, or valleys.

The paddle for me was spectacular. Although my boat is 10 years old and a major crack was starting to form, I once again remained in my cockpit through all the rough water. But, the best thing that happened to me on the water was meeting my friend, Reino Summers. When I tell him of my atrocious start, he looks at me gob smacked. “The same thing happened to me today,” he said. We reform and shoot a rapid. I paddle hard to catch up to him again. “The water bag was in its place last night, but then when I got here, it was gone. I think someone must have taken it out at home.” Another rapid is shot. He turns around as I come down. “That supply shop was a miracle. It would have been hard to do paddle without it.” I am relieved. There are others. A club is due to be formed, I think. Dusi Klutz’s United.

The race today was actually quite tough. It was the longest by far and the low river made the river section incredibly technical. The portages were up and down hills and also quite draining. Because it was so hot, it was imperative that everyone had a lot to drink and hat’s off to the water stations who really helped to ensure that. I kept on getting jugs of water to refill my water bottle, without which I think I would have struggled. There are so many volunteers working throughout the Dusi who really deserve to be congratulated. It really would be difficult without them. Also, the seconds. They really do bring a smile to a paddler’s face with that extra TLC and something different to eat and drink along the way.

The dam section of the race, from the start of Inanda Dam to three quarters of the way to the dam wall, was a hard section to complete the stage on. It is grueling, to say the least. Winds, waves, speed boat ripples, numb bum pains beginning to kick in. I was just sad not to see my three bikini-clad blondes on their jet ski (reference to 50 miler and Blog 1). I did see a rather large, bloated, dead fish floating around in the dam. Any ideas what that could be from? E-Coli? Jelly Fish sting? I don’t know.

Paddling in to the finish was quite a relief. Three airplanes were doing loop-da-loops spraying smoke as a way to motivate us along the last stretch. A parachuter was also seen freefalling down, just missing our boats. There was a carnival atmosphere at the end, that’s for sure. When I walked out with my boat, I realized how broken I was. My shoulders seemed like they had been quartered by the 16th Century British torturers. Carrying my boat up to the pound was agonizing.

Back at home, a little tea-tree and Arnica Oil in a steaming hot bath seems to start the fixing process. I know I will sleep well tonight. I know I will be back on the water tomorrow, looking very much towards the exciting rapids, trying harder not to be a klutz and finishing in style.

That’s the incredible journey of the Dusi. It is very hard, but a good night’s sleep and a little love and affection from the seconds and organizers go a long way to keep us paddling from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

It’s quite rewarding, really.


Click here to read Matt's Dusi Klutz blog 5.

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