It’s all go for Non-Stop Dusi

2013-03-08 00:00

AS dawn breaks today, some two hundred brave souls will take to the waters and pathways of the Msunduzi and Mngeni valleys as the battle of The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi canoe marathon — from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban — unfolds in hot, dry weather on moderately full rivers.

While some will be eyeing silverware and top honours, for many the adventure is precisely that, an adventure that squeezes the challenges of the three-day Dusi route into a single day, starting at 5.30 am.

At the front of the men’s race, three times Dusi winner and defending Non- Stop Dusi champion Andy Birkett has teamed up with the man who stole the hearts of the valley and the canoeing fraternity throughout South Africa during this year’s Dusi, Sbonelo Zondi.

The pair look to be the favourites to take this year’s title and will have extra motivation to surge to the top step of the podium after momentary lapses in this year’s Dusi cost both of them their title hopes.

Valley hero and four time Non-Stop Dusi winner Thulani Mbanjwa is to make his presence felt after what has been a somewhat quiet KZN river season by his own standards.

Mbanjwa has teamed up with 10th place finisher and Dusi gold medallist Zonele Nzuza.

Nzuza’s regular training partner and team-mate, Nhlanhla Cele, and his brother, Richard, will look to earn yet another podium place finish.

Gauteng will be also enjoy a strong presence throughout the 110 km clash as Loveday Zondi and Siseko Ntondini combine in search of the overall spoils, while Gavin Shuter and Carl Folscher, Dewaldt Hattingh and Chris Birkett and Greg Carter-Brown and Kyle Dohne will undoubtedly add spice to the flavoursome mix.

With victory awarded to the first craft across the line, regardless of whether it is a K1 or a K2, many will have a cautious eye on two-time singles victor Mark Mulder, the evergreen Mark Germiquet and the third of three Czech Republic stars, Michael Odvarko, all of whom will attempt the feat alone.

The women’s race looks a little less competitive with two-time women’s winner Hilary Pitchford and regular top performer Abby Adie comfortable favourites.

As Pitchford warned, it is a long way from start to finish with many tricky obstacles and personal battles to overcome, and the likes of Debbie Lewis and Diana Reitz will undoubtedly do what they can do put themselves in a position to grab any opportunity the favourites may give them.

The mixed doubles category is another mouth-watering affair as 2012 third place finisher and regular top Non-Stop Dusi performer Kelvin Trautman pairs up with girlfriend Sabrina Chesterman.

The pair almost certainly won’t have things their own way though as the Czech siblings, Jakob Adam and Anna Adamova, look to make amends for a disappointing Dusi effort.

The only person to have done all 16 races thus far, Eric Bothma, is back again in 2013 as he seeks finish No. 17 and continue his unique and impressive record.

Women’s paddler Jane Bain is another familiar face expected on course this year, as are Midmar Mile organiser Wayne Riddin, former Dusi winner Mark Perrow, Epworth and paddling legend Les Willows as well as “Farmer Glen” Haw, who is famous for his Sani2C and Joburg2C operations.

With dry conditions expected, paddlers will once again be in for another exceptionally tough day.

The winners of this year’s Unlimited Dusi, siblings Lance and Robyn Kime, are unable to take part in this year’s clash.

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