152 brave souls are set to tackle the gruelling 2015 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon on Friday 6 March in the nineteenth edition of the ultra-endurance event that aims to complete all the stages of the iconic Dusi in a single day.
With just the supplies they take with them and whatever support their own seconding crews can provide, participants start at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg at 05h30 with the ultimate goal of reaching Blue Lagoon in Durban later that same day.
At the front two of the Dusi “Fantastic Four” Sbonelo Khwela and Lance Kime will start as strong favourites after their podium finishes in the recent Dusi however both will be tackling a personal Non-Stop Dusi first as they look to complete the task alone.
With his sublime running abilities, Khwela will look to break the shackles of Euro Steel’s Kime early on as he expects the 2015 Dusi runner-up to come charging back at him in the paddling-biased second half of the encounter.
For Kime, the race will be a bon voyage to paddling for a while as the recent Stellenbosch University graduate looks to spend some time traveling and working abroad.
While having fun on the river and testing himself in the tough conditions remains his primary goal for the event, Kime does admit to having an eye on a final title shot before he waves the local paddling scene goodbye, for now.
Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy will once again be well represented in the men’s clash as the third member of this year’s elite K1 challengers Sboniso Shozi looks to better his 2014 result where he was the second individual boat across the line.
Fellow Change a Lifers Banesti Nkhoesa and Mhlonishwa Hlongwane put in career best performances at the recent Dusi which saw them finish seventh and eighth respectively and the pair will now team up as they go in search of the ‘cherry on the top’.
Valley of a Thousand Hills paddling icon Thulani Mbanjwa has a steady fourth place Dusi and together with Nhlanhla Cele, the Build it/Williams Hunt competitor will be hoping for another consistent journey from Pietermaritzburg to Durban while Mfaniseni Nyawose and Richard Cele as well as Mxolisi Ntuli and Sipho Canham will certainly be top 10 factors.
Under-23 twin brothers Travis and Tyler Wilson are two more in good form and after Travis edged out Shozi in last year’s Non-Stop Dusi K1 battle, the pair will be hoping their natural understanding of one another will aid in their top five bid.
Having finished second three times before, Euro Steel’s Laura O’Donoghue finally broke her Dusi duck two weeks ago and after having her arm twisted to make one final return to the river, the 30 year-old mom of two will say her goodbyes to the competitive side of the sport for good at this year’s Non-Stop Dusi.
O’Donoghue’s K1 challenge is unlikely to be rivalled however should the determined and gritty athlete happen to run into trouble she may well have the sight of Kelly Howe and Susan Carter-Brown may looming large in her rear-view mirrors.
Ben Bradford and Natasha Bulbring have enjoyed tremendous form in the early part of 2015 and the pair will now look to emulate the 2014 feat of Jacques and Jen Theron who were the first mixed double crew across the finish line and in the process finished inside the race’s top 10 overall.
The pace will undoubtedly be a few paces slower for Eric Bothma a little further back in the field however with his record of being the only man ever to have completed all 18 official Non-Stop Dusis on the line, there is little doubt he will be hoping for another good day out on the river.
Milestones will also be on the line for Rob Ostler, Stewart Spilsbury and Brad Youens as they look to complete their 15th Non-Stop Dusi this year while Thulani Mbanjwa will become the first black paddler to finish ten editions of the taxing race should he successfully do so while Emrys Farland, Jay Jenkins, Trevor Maher, Neil Patterson and Marc Stanton also hope to celebrate a decade of finishes.
The 2015 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place on Friday 6 March from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon, Durban.