The 2016 edition of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon saw nearly 1300 brave or insane paddlers, whichever way you see it, battle their way through 120 kilometers along the Msunduzi River from the 18th-20th February.
Andy Birkett and Lance Kime came out as victors in the Men’s race, as they had asserted their dominance over the pack throughout the three days. Meanwhile in the Women’s race, Abby Solms and Anna Kožíšková obliterated the field from the word go, as they had a 14-minute lead over second place, which they’ve maintained comfortably to finish first.
For those of you that aren’t too familiar with the Dusi, it is a canoe race that requires sheer determination, Samson-like strength, intricate and agile maneuvering skills, a rock solid ability to focus for long periods on end and the heart of a lion.
One will need these kinds of attributes to get through the daunting adrenaline-fueled three days, as it entails shooting down hostile rapids, enduring long sessions of constant paddling in the scorching heat.
To add to the aforementioned requirements, one needs to be able to run up and down treacherously steep, rugged and muddy terrain. And if that is not tough enough for you, you need to understand that all of the running has to be done while carrying the canoe.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon is in fact a doozy … It seriously is!
Best 4 Sports was present over the duration of the race and here is our story of the Dusi in pictures:
Hundreds of people gathered to watch the first kayaks come down Commercial Road Weir. One will notice that the weather was not the conventional Dusi weather this year, as there were a number of storms the night before, which created a wet day 1, thus making the portages more challenging.
Below, still at Commercial Road Weir, moments after the leaders had passed, a bit of drama unfolded, but luckily nobody sustained any injuries.
Thereafter we drove through to Pine Trees quite swiftly in order to catch the leading paddlers during their portage. In order to get to Pine Trees in time to see the paddlers, we had to do a bit of trail-running of our own. For us, it was a win-win situation, as we were entertained by the racers while we were getting a bit of a workout too.
The images above tell the story of how the teams had portaged Pine Trees. Here, one can see that Andy Birkett and Lance Kime had maintained their lead and may have begun widening the gap, as the pair are renowned for their running capability in this sport.
Below, Birkett and Kime looking smooth like a well oiled machine as they went down Mission Rapids. At this stage, the leaders had widened their gap between them and second place by almost 4 minutes.
Above you will see a slow-mo clip of Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke as they came down Mission Rapids about 4 minutes after first place and were closely chased by Sibonelo Khwela and his partner, Banetse Nkhoesa, who were in third.
While the competitors were in battle, we still had time to get our morning coffee. Thereafter, we rushed to Cabbage Tree and Finger Neck to watch the majority of the paddlers portaging. At this point, we have noticed that many paddlers were starting to get Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC).
Some were lucky, as they were given some of our limited supply of our very own secret concoction. Luckily for those that had our ‘magic potion’, they had not suffered from the dreadful cramps. Unfortunately for some of the contestants, like this gentleman in the video below, we could unfortunately not help him, as we had not had enough of our ‘cramp block’.
Well, he does not need to suffer for much longer, because the solution to his problems is almost here. The world’s first commercially available neuromuscular supplement for EAMC will be launched on 3 March 2016. Be prepared to have your world of sport rocked!
The following slide consists of a series of pictures from the second day of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, which was greeted by a majestic sunrise over the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The weather conditions were a lot more dry and warmer, which made it for a more challenging day 2. Here you will see the paddlers going through Marion Foley and into the Inanda Dam. It was here where Birkett/Kime had pulled an 8-minute lead on McGregor/Mocke, while Khwela/Nkhoesa had a exciting end to the day as the were narrowly beaten by the Houston brothers in a sprint to the finish.
Day 3 was yet another gloomy day as we saw many of the paddlers finishing their 3-day expedition at Blue Lagoon in Durban. The final day entailed reverse batching, so that more spectators can witness all of their friends and loved-ones finishing. It also allowed everyone the opportunity to watch the winners come home, which was dominated by Birkett and Kime. The women’s race was also rather one-sided as far as first place was concerned, as Solms and Kožíšková won their maiden Dusi by 14 minutes.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2016 had a slightly different atmosphere to what it usually does, however, it was still an entertaining display by the paddlers that showed some great character just by getting through this race. Thus, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate every single one of these brave men and women for completing such a spectacular fete. You have all shown that your are: