As the entry deadline for the 2016 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon draws closer two of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon top fiver’s will join forces as Banetse Nkhoesa and the younger Houston brother, Alan, team up for the Dusi-in-a-day ultra-marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Friday, 4 March.
Both Nkhoesa and Houston raced onto the FNB Dusi podium at some stage, however it was Nkhoesa and his partner Sbonelo Khwela who claimed the overall claim to third place at the three-day adventure just under two weeks ago.
Despite Houston studying in Stellenbosch Nkhoesa was always confident that he would be able to lure the Mooi River resident back for a crack at one of the toughest races on the paddling calendar.
“I had been looking hard for a partner but I knew that Alan would be the best option for me,” the Euro Steel star mentioned. “I gave him a call and he got back to me the next day telling me that he was keen. It was pretty quick and easy actually!”
Many paddlers who strike up new partnerships tend to want to spend time in the boat in the build-up to a big race however this is not a luxury that Nkhoesa and Houston have been blessed with and will have very little time together before the start of the race.
“We have never paddled together but we are not too concerned about that. I haven’t been doing much training since Dusi and so we wouldn’t have had much time in the boat together anyway.
“We’ll have a paddle together on Thursday just to get ourselves comfortable in the boat, hopefully!” he added.
Nkhoesa provided the power in the back of the boat as Khwela navigated their way down the river during the FNB Dusi whereas Houston was the pilot of his ship as he drove his brother to a fourth place finish overall.
“Alan will more than likely drive the boat. We will discuss it but I think that I add more power at the back of the boat and Alan drove well at Dusi so it would make sense for him to be in control.
“We have spoken and we are both pretty focused on this race and we both really want to do well, which is encouraging,” explained Nkhoesa.
Having been a junior last year Houston was ineligible to compete in the Non-Stop Dusi but the 19-year-old and Nkhoesa have the potential to make the 2016 doubles title their own.
“I have always considered Non-Stop to be an important race on my calendar and so there is a lot of effort that goes into my race.
“It’s something that I have wanted to win and I think that Alan and I have a chance as both of us are strong runners.
“We are just hoping that we gel well in the boat and if that works out then there is a good chance that we could end in a really strong position.
“There should be a couple of really strong boats including Sbonelo in a K1 so we will have to be strong throughout the day in order to get a good result on Friday,” Nkhoesa concluded.
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.