Ant Stott realised a lifelong dream when he won the Hansa Powerade Dusi canoe marathon title with a perfectly calculated final-stage charge into Blue Lagoon in Durban, and in the process broke the overall race record by six minutes.
"It is awesome, awesome, just awesome," was Stott's reaction when he reached the finish. "I fooled myself into believing that it would be the same as winning the K2 title (which Stott has won with Kelby Murray and Martin Dreyer) but it is much sweeter to win the singles title."
Stott was also quick to attribute the win to the high standard of coaching that he, and runner-up Michael Mbanjwa, have been enjoying. "This win has come at a completely unexpected stage, as I have been focusing on sprinting with the K4 team," Stott said. "I sincerely hope that the youngsters can see that our coaching is right on the button."
Reigning Dusi Queen Abbey Miedema shattered her own race record as she romped to an emphatic win over the game Laura Thompson, who finished 33 minutes behind Miedema.
Miedema opted for the safety of the Burma Road portage, but never once tried to protect her lead, as she added a further eleven minutes to her advantage.
"Even the portage over Burma Road felt easier today," said Miedema. "The win is very special — somehow every Dusi win is special and quite different."
Stott started the final stage with a seven-minute lead over Michael Mbanjwa, who was always going to use his superior running skills to go over the gruelling Burma Road portage to try and reel in Stott, who paddled cautiously around Burma Road, and portaged the nasty Island Rapid that had smashed his kayak in last year's race.
He was thrilled to see that he was still in the lead after Burma Road, and then put in a Herculean charge to the finish in Durban, where he learnt that he had taken six minutes off Len Jenkins’s 2001 overall race record.
Mbanjwa was a clear second and the fastest man on the final stage, as he took more than two minutes off the third stage record.
‘Dusi Duke’ Martin Dreyer started the final stage together with Jenkins in a hotly contested dice for the last spot on the podium. Dreyer badly tore a tendon in his ankle running down the Burma Road portage, while Jenkins paddled around. But the tough G4 champ ignored the pain and raced into Blue Lagoon to take the third place, before being taken to hospital.
World-renowned conservationist Ian Player, brother of golfing great Gary, is credited with the idea for the Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, first contested in December 1951. Only eight men took part that year, and Player won a drama-filled contest, suffering a bite from a night adder along the way, in six days.
The next three Dusi marathons were contested on a non-stop basis, but in 1956 the race was changed to its present three-stage format.
The race today draws a field of over 1 000 contestants.
More on the Natal Canoe Club– One of the hosts of the Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Jenkins was then caught by the charging Sven Bruss at Dogs Leg rapid, and the pair was locked in a thrilling dice to the line in front of a hysterical crowd on the bank of the river, which Bruss won after a prolonged struggle.
Defending champ Hank McGregor, who also opted to take on the energy sapping run over Burma Road, ended up sixth.
Nick Stubbs took the under-21 honours, while Maritzburg College's Andrew Birkett took the junior title with an overall 20th-place finish. Fellow College pupil Stuart Waterworth was in top form as he broke Shaun Rubenstein's record for the final stage by two seconds.
Epworth school girl Robyn Kime made a mockery of the junior girls' race record, as she took an hour and three quarters of the previous best time, and 20 minutes of the old third stage record. She finished fourth in the overall women's race, and was pipped to the last place on the podium by Hillary Pitchford.
Stott attributed the massive number of new records to the good water releases, particularly on the second day, when the hefty releases from Nagle and Henley dams coincided with good overnight rains. "The water levels have been outstanding this year, and that is reflected in the times across the board," he said.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
- Ant Stott NAT 8:03.22
- Michael Mbanjwa 8:09.25
- Martin Dreyer WHR 8:17.47
- Sven Bruss UMV 8:21.11
- Len Jenkins DRA 8:21.13
- Hank McGregor DRA 8:28.02
- Jacques Theron SOW 8:34.38
- Deon Bruss UMV 8:34.39
- Jason Graham NGW 8:34.39
- Mike Stewart ERK 8:38.43
- Shaun Biggs UKN 8:43.27
- Piers Cruikshanks DAB 8:47.59
- Kevin White NAT 8:53.02
- Wayne Thompson NAT 8:53.03
- Jaysen Golding KIN 9:01.15
- Mark Willment CAN 9:02.15
- Graham Bird ADV 9:03.27
- Mike Harris VIC 9:05.40
- Nick Stubbs MMS 9:07.03
- Andrew Birkett MAR 9:10.11
- Abbey Miedema WHR 9:25.36
- Laura Thompson NAT 9:57.28
- Hillary Pitchford UKN 10:13.34
- Robyn Kime EPW 10:14.54
- Lorna Oliver NAT 10:38.26
- Junior Boys
- Andrew Birkett MAR 9:10.11
- James Dillon MIC 9:17.54
- David Firth MIC 9:20.02
- Stuart Waterworth MAR 9:25.10
- Ben Biggs NAT 9:30.39