7 January 2014
Dusi Canoe Marathon title hopefuls Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa kicked off the new year in winning fashion on Sunday when they cantered to victory in the Popes Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Challenge.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon, which was first contested in 1951, is one of the world’s largest canoe marathons. It covers 120 kilometres between Pietermaritzburg and Durban and alternates between a singles (K1) and doubles (K2) race.
A Dusi seeding race, the Popes Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Challenge was contested in tough, desperately low conditions on the mid-uMngeni River from Ibis Point to Dip Tank.
Former Dusi winners
Kime (Best 4 Healthcare/Euro Steel) and Mbanjwa (Build it) are both former Dusi champions, with Kime having won the title in a K1 last year and Mbanjwa having teamed up with Mertin Dreyer to take the K2 title in 2008. Not surprisingly, they are considered potential winners of February’s iconic three-day race.
On Sunday they took to the water in the hope of getting further race practice and valuable time in the boat together under their belts and, after finishing well over a minute ahead of Computershare Change a Life Academy’s Lucas Mthalane and Mmeli Cele, they achieved just that.
‘Nice to win’
“It’s always nice to win a race, especially with this one have being a Dusi seeding race,” Kime said with satisfaction afterwards. “It would have been nice to have the two other crews there but even so it’s always great to get the confidence up.
“It’s great to have so many pre-races before Dusi and to be getting a couple of good results, especially at this stage of our build up to Dusi, is great,” he added.
“The closer you get to Dusi the more you read into results and the last thing you want is a few bad results to play on your mind, so these few good performances we’ve had in the smaller races I definitely think have served us well and given our confidence a bit of a boost.”
After seeing Sbonelo Zondi (Euro Steel) and his fill-in partner Carl Folscher charge to the front of the field early on and lead the race until the Nqumeni Hill portage, Kime and Mbanjwa worked hard on the tough run and managed to put in ahead of their challengers.
It was far from a done deal at that stage though. “Sbonelo and Carl caught us again at Big Bend and we paddled together right up to the headwaters of the dam where we had to deal with a big hyacinth blockage,” Kime continued.
“We each took different lines on the portage and it was there that we managed to get ahead of the others, and from then on we held the lead across the dam and down to the finish.”
While many of KwaZulu-Natal’s rivers are currently enjoying near full conditions, a dry few days in the build up to the race produced an exceptionally low water level, adding to the day’s challenge.
‘Tight and technical’
“There was very little water,” Kime said, describing the challenge it posed. “It is a race known for being quite low, but this year the river was probably lower than ever before and, with it being a doubles race, it really was tight and technical.
“We had to get out and push over things a couple of times, but it was a good outing for us nonetheless. Training together, which this race was for us, is always far better than training on your own, so we definitely still got a lot out of it.”
“We’re getting better and better with time. We’ve gotten to know each other in the boat really well and things have steadily improved for us over time.
“A couple of good results, like we’ve had recently, also really start getting you thinking that maybe we can actually do this [win Dusi].”
The majority of the Dusi’s top female contenders took to the water in K1s, which opened the door for the evergreen pairing of Debbie Germiquet and Carmen Donald to take the women’s spoils ahead of Jordan Peek and Brittany Petersen.
With their Dusi partners out of town, Abby Adie led home Robyn Kime and Hilary Bruss in the women’s K1 section, while the pairing of Sboniso Shonzi and Nokukhanya Shange claimed the mixed doubles victory.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2014 starts in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, 13 February and ends in Durban on Saturday, 15 February.
- Lance Kime/Thulani Mbanjwa 2:00.10
- Lucas Mthalane/Mmeli Cele 2:01.17
- Carl Folscher/Sbonelo Zondi 2:01.33
- Murray Starr/Andrew Adie 2:03.41
- Donovan Wewege/Kevin Musgrave 2:06.14
- Debbie Germiquet/Carmen Donald 2:21.46
- Jordan Peek/Brittany Petersen 2:35.26
- Jenna Ward/Lauren Felgate 2:44.09
- Marc Germiquet 2:13.13
- Thando Ngamlana 2:19.37
- Mfaniseni Nyawose 2:21.28
- Abby Adie 2:19.43
- Robyn Kime 2:22.18
- Hilary Bruss 2:31.31