The Berg honours its legends

Cape Town - The 50th anniversary of the Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon will honour the athletes who have made major contributions to the race, with two icons from the inaugural race in 1962 taking part in the 2011 marathon that starts on Wednesday 13 July.

Jannie Malherbe and Willem van Riet have entered the 2011 Windhoek Berg River canoe marathon and will start in the "Legends" batch just behind the seeded stars on each of the four stages of the race. Malherbe has completed 38 Bergs.

The race organisers have rolled out a sweeping programme to honour the race's "Legends" in both the men's and women's divisions, including the 23 men and 8 women who have won titles in the past, and the veteran athletes who have completed twenty or more editions of this gruelling race.

No less than ten former winners of the overall race title have entered the 2011 race, including 1963 winner Malherbe and 1968 winner Roelof van Riet. Of the 31 former champions of the race, only Nollie Meiring, the winner of the inaugural race in 1962, has passed away.

The "Legends" were honoured at a lunch on the Monday before the race where their contribution to the establishment of the race as a globally recognised ultra distance canoe marathon was acknowledged.

Race committee chair Andre Collins finds himself on the list of legends, having won the race in 1972 and 1978. He also shares the honour of having done the most Bergs (41) with the evergreen Giel van Deventer.

Lionel "Lonkie" Ekermans, who is joint second on the race's honour roll having completed 38 previous editions of the marathon, will also make a striking contribution to the race by paddling in the original kayak used by Nollie Meiring to win the inaugural race in 1962.

Dubbed "Kelkiewyn", the green and red canvas and fibreglass kayak has no rudder, as Meiring had trouble with his feet and elected not to fit a rudder to the boat that he won his famous red VW Beetle in in 1962.

"It's a perfect time to identify and honour the men and women who have made a major contribution to bringing the Wiindhoek Berg River canoe marathon to where it is today," said Alan Roberts, Windhoek's brand manager.

"The fact that so many former winners are coming back to be part of the 50th anniversary says a great deal about the impact that this event has on the lives of those that have set out to complete this tough race," he added.

"In particular, we salute the two men who were part of the group of nineteen men who finished the first ever edition of this race. To have Jannie Malherbe and Willem van Riet on the startline in 2011 is a privilege and an honour." said Roberts.



* Denotes competing in 2011


Nollie Meiring 1962
Jannie Malherbe 1963,4,5 *
Paul Chalupsky 1966
Chris Dreyer 1967
Roelof van Riet 1968, 70 *
Hennie Greeff 1969
Willem van Riet 1971 *
André Collins 1972, 78 *
Sunley Uys 1973, 74, 81
JT Basson 1975, 85 *
Stefan Hugo 1976, 77, 80, 82, 84
Chris Greeff 1979
Greyling Viljoen 1983
Herman Chalupsky 1986
Robert Clegg 1987
Mynhardt Marais 1988 *
Graham Monteith 1989 *
Mark Perrow 1990
Robert Herreveld 1991, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96 *
Michael Cheeseman 1997, 98 99
Hank McGregor 2000, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10 *
Graeme Solomon 2001 *
Jacques Theron 2002, 03, 04 *


Cheronne Botes 1978, 79
Ritzie Heyns 1980, 81, 82
Dene Simpson 1990, 91
Jean Wilson 1992, 93, 94 , 96, 97, 99, 2000 *
Antje Manfroni 1995, 98
Alexa Lombard 2001, 02, 03
Abbey Miedema 2004, 05, 06, 07, 08
Robyn Kime 2009, 10 *

20 or more Berg legends:

Giel van Deventer, Gerfried Nebe, Lionel Ekermans, Edgar Boehm, Gerhard Beukes, Francois Loedolff, Ralph Teulings, René Boehm, Johan Serdyn, Petrus Crous, Mark Torrington, John Lee

The Berg River Canoe Marathon takes place from 13 to 16 July 2011, preceded by a time trial on 12 July.

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