With less than a week to go to the start of the 2016 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday, 18 February, many of the 120km event’s participants will eagerly take advantage of this weekend’s Dusi Open Day and do some final homework on day one’s trails.
Race organisers and local landowners have combined to create a rare opportunity between 05h00 and 13h00 on Sunday, 14 February whereby paddlers will have the opportunity to pass through farmers’ private land and explore the portages between the Woodhouse Road low level bridge and Geoff’s Road.
“Portages such as Campbell’s Farm, Hole in the Wall, Guinea Fowl and Geoff’s Road play a vital role in day one’s racing and this opportunity for everyone to familiarise themselves with these trails is hugely beneficial for our paddlers,” said FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon General Manager, Brett Austen Smith.
“We are privileged to enjoy a healthy relationship with many of the local landowners and are extremely grateful for their cooperation and the role they play in both Sunday’s Dusi Open Day and Thursday’s first stage of the FNB Dusi!” he added.
Paddlers are however urged to respect the opportunity the farmers have afforded them and pay careful attention to the few rules of Sunday’s opportunity.
“No cars are allowed on the route,” said Austen Smith. “We ask that everyone please park at Bishopstowe Hall and trip the conventional portages by foot only!”
“Please respect the farmers’ property – their land, animals and fences alike and ensure that any gate you pass through, you close behind you.
“It also goes without saying that we appeal to paddlers to make sure that they also don’t leave any litter on the farms and their trails.”
Austen Smith also appealed to Pietermaritzburg locals to take note of the expected rise in water level set to occur from Wednesday, 17 February due to the planned water release out of Henley Dam.
“The Woodhouse Road low level bridge is no longer accessible by vehicle however many pedestrians often cross this by foot.
“With the heightened water level comes and inherent risk to those trying to cross the bridge and we urge all to alter their route accordingly until the water level subsides again,” pleaded Austen Smith.
The 65th edition of the 120km adventure from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon, Durban takes place from Thursday, 18 to Saturday, 20 February.