Durban - The second leg of the 2017 McGregor Paddle Series at Blue Lagoon started with a bang, setting a new record for entries for the fun series, aimed as much at beginners as the elite stars.
The series is the brain child of multiple marathon world champion Hank McGregor and his wife Pippa, and is more about enticing people to the sport of marathon paddling and has a distinct emphasis on giving back.
The first leg in Johannesburg in the middle of June focused on K2, or doubles, racing and Friday's action, the first KZN leg of the expanded five race series, also emphasised two-person racing. The thought process behind this was the opportunity for paddlers to take on either the long 8km course or the short 4km with a novice or a less experienced paddler.
"We had a fantastic event on Friday and I am incredibly humbled by the amount of paddlers we had taking part," McGregor commented.
"There must have been close to 250 paddlers taking part which is definitely a series record!"
As South Africa's finest gear up for the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in September, the McGregor Series provides a platform for paddlers to get in some competitive action ahead of the international showpiece in six weeks time.
"We had some of the big guns from the past as well as the present out there, the likes of Ant Stott and Matthew Bouman were racing against Tom Lovemore and Clint Cook for the win.
"Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase, world championship silver medalists, were up against Michelle Burn and Hayley Nixon with the older duo showing their experience to take the win. It was great tight, racing in the build up to SA marathon championships and world championships," he added.
Bidvest McCarthy Toyota once again threw their support behind the race on Friday and will also be involved in Race Four next month, but McGregor was appreciative of their support for the series.
"This is their second year involved in the race and they have been hugely supportive of us and we appreciate their efforts.
"I paddled with the Glenda Austin again this year and we did the short course, we had a fantastic race."
Growing the sport is the main objective for McGregor and although the sheer numbers took him aback, the amount of young paddlers taking part was another pleasant surprise.
"The biggest surprise for me was the number of development paddlers and guppies that we had.
"Those are the areas of the sport that we need to focus on and to see them participating and racing full throttle was fantastic!"
Race Three of the 2017 McGregor Paddle Series will take paddlers to Pietermaritzburg on August 18 for the FNB Race.
This is one of two races that will take place at Camps Drift on the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships course.
More information can be found at www.mcgregorpaddleseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - RACE TWO MCGREGOR PADDLE SERIES:
1. Clinton Cook/Thomas Lovemore 34:25
2. Antony Stott/Matthew Bouman 34:26
3. Callam Davis/Hamish Lovemore 34:26
1. Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn 38:00
2. Kyeta Purchase/Jenna Ward 38:16
3. Sabina Lawrie/Christie Mackenzie 39:38 Jnr
1. Callam Davis/Hamish Lovemore 34:26
2. Hamish Mackenzie/Dave Evans 35:05
3. Skhumbuzo Ngidi/Thabani Msia 42:01
1. Sabina Lawrie/Christie Mackenzie 39:38
1. Lance Howarth/Sean Burgen 38:39
2. Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe
1. Brent Chiazzari/Jessica Chiazzari 46:51
2. Stephen Main/Hannah Main 47:00
Short Course – First men
1. Lee McGregor/Cavin Sewell 24:41
Short Course – First Ladies K2
1. Paige Horn/Carmel Billson 25:27
Short Course – first mixed
1. Chris Fann/Axet Fann 31:01
SUP – 4KM
1. Matthew Swemmer 29:10
2. Brandon Germaine 32:55
1. Landie Williamson 31:12
2. Keetah Stott
2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series:
Race 3: August 18 – FNB Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg
Race 4: August 25 – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 5: September 1 – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg