In a surprising turn of events Epworth pupil Christie Mackenzie finished second during the first leg of the 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday. Mackenzie finished after multiple Dusi top 10 finisher Abby Solms and ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Bridgette Hartley. The Epworth pupil said she was looking to finish in the top three but she didn’t know that she would end up finishing second. When asked how she felt about being between these two canoeing giants, she said: “I feel really small”. She said she was very happy with how she performed yesterday as “all I did was paddle and run as fast as I could”. The thrilling atmosphere during the early morning was experienced by all who came out in their numbers in support of the paddlers at the start. The bridge near the Ernie Pearce weir was filled with spectators cheering the paddlers on. The Witness caught up with the paddlers and spectators at Mission Rapids in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.