Steve Black and John Murray sowed the seed for the challenge of “doing the Dusi in a day” when they completed the full Dusi course in a day shortly after the 1985 Dusi. After that it was run informally by likeminded paddlers when river conditions were favourable, until the race was formalised in 1997.
The early races were dominated by brothers John and Andrew Edmonds, who won the inaugural Non-Stop in 1997 in 8 hrs 42 mins, beating Wayne Volek and Gary Clarke, and Glenn Hilliar and Kenny Reynolds. Debbie Whitton and Wendy White were the first female winners, after paddling for 10hrs 36 mins. In all 14 crews finished the first Non-Stop.
The word quickly spread, and the entry started to snowball year on year. Husqvarna sponsored several of the early races as the interest in this extreme event gathered momentum. Bruce and Heather Wenke were the first mixed doubles crew to do the race, when they won the class in 1998.
Fezela stalwarts Brad Grobbler and Shane Houting hold the record for the longest Non-Stop, with the 2003 finish of 15 hrs 28 mins.
Stihl took over the title sponsorship in 2005, a year when Valley Of a Thousand Hills icons Loveday Zondi and Thomas Ngidi both raced onto the podium.
History was made in 2006 when Hank McGregor became the first paddler to finish the race in a K1. In a remarkable feat he won the race overall, completing the race on a medium to low river in sub-8 hours.
2007 was another icon year for the race when the Dusi champion crew of Martin Dreyer and Thulani Mbanjwa won the title, giving the race it’s first black champion. Hank McGregor was third overall and the first K1 home.
Mbanjwa went on to claim a hat-trick of titles, winning again with Dreyer in 2008, and with Piers Cruikshanks in 2009.
2010 saw the arrival of the talent from the Change-A-Life Academy. The race was won by Thomas Ngidi and Sibonelo Zondi, Kwanda Mhlope and Richard Cele third behind Craig Turton and Kelvin Trautmann, Mbanjwa fourth with Cruikshanks, and Loveday Zondi and Lucas Mthalane fifth and sixth, in K1s.
2011 saw the Unlimited step in as title sponsors, in perfect synergy with The Unlimited Dusi support, as the race continues to grow in reputation and support.
In 2012 Andy Birkett won it on debut in a K1, and Robyn Kime mirrored this by winning the women’s race in a K1.
Good water in 2013 saw records falling, with Andy Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi winning overall and Abby Adie and Hilary Pitchford smashing the women’s race record.
In 2014 Sbonelo Khwela teamed up with Hank McGregor at the eleventh hour to claim victory, and with it a special and popular double as he had won the Dusi K2 title with Andy Birkett just weeks before. In the women’s race twins Alex and Abby Adie ground out a win over Robyn Kime in her K1.
2015 saw the evergreen Thulani Mbanjwa and the lesser known Nhlanhla Cele claim the overall spoils whilst Sbonelo Khwela won the K1 race however the day belonged to Laura O’Donoghue who smashed the women’s record on her way to a Dusi and Non-Stop double.