2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon title hopefuls Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa got their year off to the perfect start on Sunday 5 January when they cantered to victory in the Popes Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Challenge, a key Dusi seeding raced in tough desperately low conditions on the middle uMngeni River from Ibis Point to Dip Tank.
Kime (Best 4 Healthcare/Euro Steel) and Mbanjwa (Build it), already talked up by many as possible victors of February’s iconic K2 Dusi showdown, took to the water in the hope of getting further race practice and invaluable time in the boat together under their belts and, having finished well over a minute ahead of Computershare Change a Life Academy’s second placed Lucas Mthalane and Mmeli Cele, they achieved just that.
“It’s always nice to win a race, especially with this one have being a Dusi seeding race,” explained a satisfied Kime. “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.
“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 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,” said Kime.
“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,” he added.
While many of KZN’s rivers enjoy 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.
“There was very little water. 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,” said Kime.
“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 in a way 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 many we can actually do this [win Dusi]!”
The majority of Dusi 2014’s top female contenders took to the water in a K1, opening the doorway 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 all out of town it was Abby Adie who led home Robyn Kime and Hilary Bruss in the women’s K1 section whilst 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 2014. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
POPES CANOE CENTRE ALAN GARDINER MEMORIAL CHALLENGE
1.Lance Kime/Thulani Mbanjwa 2:00.10
2.Lucas Mthalane/Mmeli Cele 2:01.17
3.Carl Folscher/Sbonelo Zondi 2:01.33
4.Murray Starr/Andrew Adie 2:03.41
5.Donavan Wewege/Kevin Musgrave 2:06.14
1.Debbie Germiquet/Carmen Donald 2:21.46
2.Jordan Peek/Brittany Petersen 2:35.26
3.Jenna Ward/Lauren Felgate 2:44.09
1.Marc Germiquet 2:13.13
2.Thando Ngamlana 2:19.37
3.Mfaniseni Nyawose 2:21.28
1.Abby Adie 2:19.43
2.Robyn Kime 2:22.18
3.Hilary Bruss 2:31.31