Recovery after her recent FNB Dusi title winning effort and unknown river levels have kept Abby Solms’ 2016 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon challenge hanging in the balance ahead of Friday’s ultra marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
With the 2013 and 2014 Non-Stop Dusi titles to her name already and having shaken the unwanted ‘Dusi Bridesmaid’ tag by racing to FNB Dusi victory with Czech Republic’s Anna Kožíšková just a week ago, Solms would carry good momentum into the ‘Dusi in a Day’ should she opt to take on the task.
The 26 year-old star will however first look to resolve a few concerns before committing to the challenge.
“I’m still pretty undecided at this stage!” confirmed Solms on Monday. “I really enjoy the more relaxed race environment of the Non-Stop but I’ve been quite tired and flat since Dusi!”
“I’ll go for a paddle in the next day or so and see how I feel before I make my decision.”
With much of KwaZulu-Natal continuing to suffer the effects of the current drought, low river levels represent another area of concern for Solms.
“I also want to find out what the water release situation is likely to be for the usual Dusi day one and two sections before I commit to racing,” explained Solms.
“I expect the river to be pretty low from below Inanda Dam to the finish at Blue Lagoon and we now know we pretty much have to do the Burma Road portage because of the low river, which I’m okay with.
“I don’t want to bash my way down from start to finish though!
“It will be really tough to start Non-Stop on just what was leftover in Henley Dam after Dusi so I’ll have to find out what the situation is first,” she added.
However, should Solms receive the answers she is looking for, the Pietermaritzburg flyer is relishing a maiden solo Non-Stop Dusi voyage.
“At this stage I think I’d just prefer to be on my own for this one, especially given the low rivers!
“With Anna (Kožíšková) not having been here before Christmas, I did a lot of my training for Dusi in my K1 and then I also went really well on my own at Drak so if I do end up paddling, I’m looking forward to my first K1 Non-Stop Dusi.”
The trend of individual efforts has become more apparent in recent years with Solms believing the water level and the season’s build up having a major influence on this.
“In the past I think it has been a case of if Dusi was a K2 championship year and you’d spent the whole pre-Dusi build up in your K2 then you were inclined to do Non-Stop in a K2 and vice versa when it was a K1 championship year for Dusi.
“This year has been a little bit different though because of the drought.
“I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge on my own, it will be more of a challenge than in a K2 I think because there isn’t anyone to help you along if you get tired and so I’ll have to look to conserve a bit more energy early on and pace myself well!”
While Solms’ entry remains in the air, mother/daughter combo Kim and Jordan Peek have confirmed they will tackle the challenge together, eager to continue from where they left off during their recent sixth place FNB Dusi effort.
The 2016 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon starts at Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg at 05h30 on Friday, 4 March with the leaders expected to arrive at the finish at Blue Lagoon, Durban at approximately 13h00.