Marathon fever has gripped South African canoeing, with confirmation that the entry for the SA Marathon Championships at Camps Drift this coming weekend has shattered all previous records, as the venue gears up to host the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in a months’ time.
The venue on the uMsundusi River based at the Natal Canoe Club clubhouse will entertain 503 paddlers in 384 craft for the South African flatwater title deciders on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will not only decide the national titles in the various age classes but will also serve as a once-off trial for the South African teams for the Masters Cup and the Marathon World Championships during the second week of September at the same venue.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Steve Botha, the event director and chief organiser of the World Championships.
“As expected we have the very best K1 and K2 boats from around the country, and the entries from the various provinces are exceptionally strong. But what has blown us away is the massive entry in the veteran and masters classes.
“These are the men and women who are being swept away by the excitement of having the Masters Cup at Camps Drift on the Monday and Tuesday of the World Champs week, and they will get the chance to race against some of the best paddlers in their age groups from around the world,” said Botha.
The entry shatters the record that was set for an SA Marathon Champs entry in 2015, when the euphoria of the venue being awarded the 2017 World Champs was at its highest.
“We thought we would get a big entry, but nothing like this,” said Botha.
He added that this was exactly what his organising team wanted as a logistical dress rehearsal for the World Champs in a months’ time.
“We plan to make sure that every aspect of the event, from parking to spectators, catering, check-in and running the races itself will be smooth, and we will look to see if we can fine tune anything before the World Champs.
“In effect we are running the six day programme of the Worlds and Masters Cup in two days!” he added.
The huge field for the Masters events will be started at two minute intervals, which, while providing a real spectacle for the spectators, will test the officials organisational structures.
The K1 races will be held on Saturday 12 August and the K2 races on Sunday 13 August.
More information can be found at http://natalcc.co.za/?page_id=753