Eight-time champion of the Lovemore Brothers Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon Sbonelo Khwela will be back to defend his title in a K1 this year when the ‘Dusi in a Day’ gets underway from Camps Drift on Friday morning.
Khwela has dominated the race both in a K1 and a K2 and will want to continue that form following his impressive second place finish at the 2019 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon just a few weeks ago.
The Non-Stop Dusi provides paddlers with a number of different options that are not available during the three-day Dusi in that paddlers can run for much longer stretches than during the Dusi-proper. Khwela has always been seen as a strong runner and this plays into his hands.
“For this year’s Dusi I focused a lot on my running because it has always been my strength,” the Euro Steel/Red Bull star said.
“I think that it was a part of my paddling that I didn’t worry about and it might have suffered because of it.”
Taking part in the Non-Stop seems to be a big part of Khwela’s Dusi season and this year he will return for his 12th consecutive Non-Stop.
There are a number of logistical challenges on a whole day from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, however Khwela believes that there are many other challenges that make the race a must-do for him annually.
“The mental challenge I find is something unlike anything else,” the 2017 K1 champion said.
“You are on your own for hours and hours, especially the section on Inanda Dam. But I just think about my life and what I have done and what I am going to do so I don’t mind it!”
Besides the obvious difference in time that it takes to complete the two different versions of the Dusi, Khwela feels that the challenge of the Non-Stop is something far more difficult.
“You only have one day to get to Durban and so you push yourself to the limit for one day.
“Dusi you have to think about conserving energy for days two and three, but with Non-Stop it’s just flat-out until the finish!
“I find that my motivation comes from just getting to the finish. It is such an incredible feeling paddling into Blue Lagoon after the Non-Stop.
“Winning is a bonus, it’s just a race about finishing!”
The hardy bunch that will be taking on the Non-Stop Dusi in 2019 will set off from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg at 5am on Friday, 1 March.