Following last weekend’s KZN Marathon Championships, the newly designed venue at Hazelmere Dam on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast passed with flying colours as they prepare to host the national marathon decider in a month’s time.
The KZN Championships welcomed some of the top men’s marathon paddlers with Hamish Lovemore, Andy Birkett, Hank McGregor and Nick Notten amongst the paddlers that took part in the two day event.
KZN’s best women paddlers were also in attendance for the provincial showpiece with the likes of Jenna Nisbet, Michelle Burn, Bridgitte Hartley and Saskia Hockly all involved.
The Msinsi Resort at Hazelmere proved to be a good ally for the organisers and the event went off smoothly with so much positive feedback following the weekend’s racing which suggests that the country has another top class marathon venue to add to the list.
“The venue is a gem with masses of parking and places to put up gazebos and shade,” Secretary General of Canoeing South Africa Colin Simpkins said.
“I did not hear a single complaint about the actual course, and lots of positive comment.
“The majority of the course can be seen from the start/finish area and the dam is deep and the water is clean with relatively good protection from the wind.”
As with all new venues, there were a few teething issues that the organisers encountered, however going into the national championship next month they are confident that these will be ironed out.
“The portage area proved a bit of a challenge, as the recent floods have deposited a layer of mud over the entire bank.
“We did our best to make it as perfect as we could given the time constraints.
“We ran a plate compactor over the entire portage and placed some additional sand over the area, however, the “take out” and “put in” were not ideal and became a bit muddy and slippery.
“This is a small issue and will be addressed before SA Champs,” Simpkins ensured.
From a racing perspective, Hamish Lovemore, who won both the men’s K1 and K2 races, believes that it is set up well for racing.
“It was great to actually race on the dam and not just train and I think everyone really enjoyed it,” Lovemore said.
“It shapes up really well with everything from the turns, to the portage and the end sprint all happening in front of spectators which makes it exciting.
“It’s a great venue and I am really looking forward to the national championships coming up.”
The 2022 SA Marathon Championships will take place at Hazelmere Dam from 16-18 June 2022.