Following a MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon marred by physical troubles as well as mechanical problems, nine-time Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Sbonelo Khwela will be back on Friday with a slightly adjusted attitude towards the race.
“I’m going out there this year to have fun,” the Euro Steel/Red Bull star said. “I haven’t been well this year and we still can’t work out what the problem is but that’s not stopping me from entering the Non-Stop!”
Khwela is the race’s most decorated winner and will take on the Dusi-in-a-Day with Thomas Ngidi as the pair take a relaxed approach to preparing for the trip from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in a single day.
“We paddled for the first time together yesterday and it was fine. We sit nicely together so we are not too concerned about that.
“I don’t do any training before Non-Stop because of the big training block that we do leading up to Dusi but with the race being moved a week later we will have to wait and see how I go!”
Khwela’s blueprint to winning the Non-Stop Dusi has become an enviable part of his near decade-long dominance of the race. It’s a simple plan that has proven to be hugely effective.
“I don’t ever go out hard at the start and I will usually be quite far back early on in the race but I know that I have so much time to catch up.
“For me, the end of Dusi day one is usually when my race begins.
“This year I think that Geoff’s Road will be the start of our race but I try and follow the same plan where I don’t use too much energy too early because it is such a long race,” he added.
The race takes on a number of different elements to the three day Dusi with portages included that aren’t part of the Dusi. For Khwela, who is a potent runner with a boat, it’s definitely an advantage having those extra portages.
“I always like the portages during the Non-Stop because as we get further into the race I get quicker on the portages.
“They also just help me stay consistent with my pace earlier in the race and are an important part of my race strategy.”
Heading into this year’s Non-Stop Dusi Khwela isn’t putting himself or his partner under any pressure to win the race, given that it’s been a tough year for him.
“My body is going to dictate how hard we paddle and I am not looking at victory this year but with that said it would be a huge bonus if we did win!” he added.