This weekend’s 2016 Vaal River Canoe Marathon, which doubles as the year’s South African K2 River Marathon Championships, will be a fascinating affair after the deluge that hit much of Johannesburg on Thursday and Friday this week.
While the country continues to be gripped by the on-going drought nationally, the recent flash floods have helped ease the phenomenon’s stranglehold temporarily and has seen a sudden spike in river levels in Gauteng.
While thousands of commuters have been confronted by some dire situations over the past 48 hours, the news is good for participants of Gauteng’s most prestigious river marathon as they go in search of this year’s K2 national honours this weekend.
“The barrage had to be opened (early) due to the amount of water already in the barrage and the amount of water still coming down,” race organisers confirmed on social media on Friday.
“The Vaal River (below) Parys (is) currently running at around 45 (cumecs); good water for the weekend,” they added.
While some of the country’s top paddlers will be absent from the Vaal’s start line this weekend due to international surfski commitments, some of Gauteng’s finest paddling competitors as set to go head-to-head.
Fresh off his strong showing at the recent Umpetha Challenge in KZN, Euro Steel/ADreach’s Siseko Ntondini, teaming up with experienced racer Wayne Jacobs, will undoubtedly be a strong title contender this weekend.
Having famously raced to a podium place at last year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon with doubles partner Len Jenkins, the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club (SCARC) product has been a strong performer since and will again hope to shine on local Gauteng waters.
Ntondini will however have fellow SCARC aces Siyabonga Tyiki and Thando Ngamlana no doubt breathing down his neck throughout the two-day, 68km clash while KwaZulu-Natal duo, Clinton Cook and Thomas Lovemore will too be eyeing out a podium finish or better.
The evergreen Piers Cruickshanks is another notable pre-entry however the stellar performer is set to take on the clash in the mixed doubles category, tackling the challenge with his wife, Shelley.
Curiously, top Gauteng paddlers Loveday Zondi, Zonele Nzuza and Alex Roberts have all opted to tackle the contest alone rather than pair up and challenge for this year’s K2 national title, something that may however change after the recent rise of the Vaal River levels.
Stage one of the 2016 Vaal River Canoe Marathon starts at 08h00 on Saturday, 12 November at Cote De Val River Lifestyle Estate and will finish 37km downstream at Smilin Thru Resort.
The action then resumes at 07h30 on Sunday, 13 November as paddlers tackle the 30km second stage from Smilin Thru Resort to Hadeda Creek Adventures.