WITH less than 48 hours to go to the start of the 2013 The Unlimited

2013-02-13 00:00

Dusi canoe marathon, top paddlers are tipping Shaun Rubenstein as the man who could race his way on to the podium.

Rubenstein won the race convincingly as a junior and returned from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to claim an unexpected third place in a K1 in 2009.

Now married and settled in Cape Town, the Kayak Racing star has been concentrating on his mountain, surfski and trail running as he prepares for the Cape Epic later in the year.

“Watch out for Ruby,” said his friend and business partner, Thulani Mbanjwa, himself tipped by many to be in contention for this year’s title. “We all know he’s a great paddler, but we were shocked to see him catch up and overtake all the top guys running up Guinea Fowl portage in one of the pre-Dusi races a couple of weeks ago.”

Mbanjwa’s view was backed up by four-time Dusi winner Ant Stott.

“Ruby came third in 2009 coming off a sprint base and carrying an ankle injury. That says a lot … He has the heart of a lion.”

“Andy Birkett has single-handedly changed this race and you can’t go into this race hoping to be competitive just by being a strong paddler anymore. Shaun [Rubenstein] has done plenty of work on his legs on the bike and trail running recently and he is definitely my prediction to come second behind Andy Birkett in this year’s Dusi.”

Rubenstein’s advantage, as he gets in from Cape Town 48 hours before racing commences, is that he is under no pressure coming into this year’s encounter — conditions under which he thrives and often performs at his best.

As a schoolboy, Rubenstein was taken under the wing of “Dusi king” Graeme Pope-Ellis and was taught the art of racing on the Dusi. This and his consistent determination helped Rubenstein and K2 partner Steve Farrell to an impressive sixth place overall, despite it being Farrell’s first Dusi.

While many will have their eyes on Birkett, Mbanjwa and Hank McGregor when the gun goes off tomorrow morning, the elite stars setting off in A batch will do themselves no harm by keeping a close eye on this year’s dark horse, Rubenstein.

The Unlimited Dusi starts starts at 6 am tomorrow at Camps Drift and ends at Blue Lagoon in Durban on Sunday.

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