Paarl - Current Dusi champion Christie Mackenzie has slipped in a late entry for the Push And Pull Paddle this weekend, spicing up what is already a highly competitive women’s race.
Mackenzie arranged her entry for the three-day race that starts on Women's Day on Friday at the Val de Vie Estate outside Paarl.
"It is going to be awesome to be part of this event, especially in its first year," she said, who earned her place in the national marathon team to China in October with two good results at the recent SA Championships at Cradle Moon in Gauteng.
The Under 23 racer has battled with illness since then which has hampered her training, but says she seems to have turned the corner in the past fortnight.
"It has been frustrating being in and out of training, but for the first time I have managed to get in two weeks of solid training," she said.
"The race will be a really good way to get that race spirit going, because it is quite easy to get complacent in training."
Mackenzie hit the headlines earlier in the year when she won the Dusi women's title in a nail-biting encounter with Tamika Haw that ended in a sprint to the finish at Blue Lagoon.
She went on to finish second in the Under 23 K1 race at the SA Marathon Champs and then teamed up with Bridgette Hartley to win the national senior women’s gold medals.
"I have been training in my marathon boat a lot this week so I will get back
into my river boat to get used to it again," she said.
She added that she was excited by the race's plan to pay tribute to females in canoeing on Women's Day on the first stage on Friday.
"It is an amazing idea to honour women in Women's Day. What makes it exciting is to see the size and quality of the women's field that has responded to the efforts by the race to acknowledge women," she said.
Mackenzie will have to square up to the likes of Bianca Beavitt, Bianca Haw, Tracey Oellerman, Kim van Gysen and a big field of women, including Stand Up Paddlerboarders that will populate the first batch to get under way on Friday afternoon for the 16km leg into Paarl.