Defending champions Msawenkosi Mtolo and Thabani Msia survived an early scare to retain their Gardens City Commercials Non-Stop Dusi title on Friday, showing a maturing pedigree at the tough the Dusi-in-a-day.
Starting half an hour later than usual due to the month-long shift in the KZN canoeing calendar, Mtolo and Msia shadowed early leaders brothers Raymond and Mlandeni Radebe out of Pietermaritzburg before making their move.
But as they negotiated the tricky Musson’s Weir on the outskirts of the city, Msia picked a line that landed them on rocks in the low uMsindusi River.
“I made a mistake and we damaged our boat at Musson’s and we were disappointed with that,” Msia said at the finish. “We have to thank our seconds because without them we would not have got to the finish line!”
They kept their composure, repaired the damage as best they could and then started to seize control of the race for overall line honours.
By the time they had reached Mission Rapid they had set up a lead of two minutes over the chasing pair of Non-Stop novice and Citi Bank Change a Life star Nqobile Makhanya, who teamed up with former Non-Stop champion Mpilo Zondi.
Mtolo and Msia surrendered a little time effecting more boat repairs at the Cabbage Tree portage take-out, but by the time they crested the top of the gruelling Nqumeni portage they had managed to extend their lead to over three minutes.
Encouraged by the splits they were getting from their seconders, they ground away alone, gradually widening their lead by a further minute by the time they reached the portage around the water hyacinth at the headwaters of Inanda dam.
Well in control of their race, they opted to run the tough Burma Road portage to avoid damaging their boat any further in the uMngeni River, which was running at a healthy 25 cumec level on the annual ecological release from the dam.
In the end the result was a convincing one, and surprised Mtolo who was just hoping that they could challenge for a spot on the podium when they set off from Camps Drift on Friday morning.
“We had a good day today and didn’t coming into the race expecting to win, we were hoping for a top three,” Mtolo said. “We managed to get an early lead and then decided that we would just go!
“We didn’t feel any pressure after our mistake because we knew we had a good lead so we just kept our heads down and continued to extend that lead and run over Burma Road.
“The decision to run over Burma Road was just so we could make sure that we kept our boat in one piece to the finish line.”
Coming home in second place over eight minutes and 25 second behind the winners was Makhanya and Zondi while the patient duo of Thomas Ngidi and Sbonelo Khwela ended third 24 minutes further back.
Johannesburg-based paddler Loveday Zondi was the first K1 boat to come across the line.
Amongst the small field of female paddlers that entered MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon runner-up and Euro Steel star Jordan Peek was the strongest in her K1 on the day to finish ahead of the K2 of Tracey Oellermann and Cara Waud.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2021 GARDEN CITY COMMERCIALS NON-STOP DUSI CANOE MARATHON
1. Thabani Msia/Msawenkosi Mtolo 08:20:15
2. Nqobile Makhanya/Mpilo Zondi 08:28:41
3. Thomas Ngidi/Sbonelo Khwela 08:52:58
4. Raymond Radebe/Mlandeni Radebe 09:04:58
5. Loveday Zondi 9.48.06
6. Shaun Griffin 9.52.00
7. Stuart Roberts 9.58.25
8. Jordan Peek 10:04:48
9. Tracey Oellermann/Cara Waud 10:14:00
10. Nkosi Mzolo/Mbongiseni Dlamini 10:14:03
1. Jordan Peek 10:04:48
2. Tracey Oellermann/Cara Waud 10:14:00