With another huge year of paddling ahead of her flat-water marathon star Jenna Ward makes the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon an early-season priority as she lines up another assault on the three-day epic from 14-16 February.
Having won two of the big three river marathons in the country, the N3TC Drak Challenge and the Hansa Fish, the Dusi is the only one that the Euro Steel star hasn’t won and although she would love to add it to the list she isn’t placing added pressure on herself going into the contest.
Being multi-talented comes with its challenges having to juggle her flat-water, river marathon and surfski training. Despite this balancing act she was always going to factor the Dusi into her 2019 plans.
“I knew from late last year that I was going to paddle the Dusi this year,” the 2018 bronze medallist said.
“In 2017 I didn’t do the Dusi and that was probably one of my worst paddling years so from then I have decided that it is a race that I will do annually.
“It is not just one of the most unique races you can do but it also gives me such a good base going into the rest of the year. Especially with my focus on flat-water marathons, the Dusi plays a crucial part in preparing me for the rest of the year.”
Ward has never held back on mentioning that her running isn’t as strong as some of the other girls, but it is something that she has addressed and continues to work on in her preparation for this year’s Dusi.
“In the past I would run in the morning and then paddle in the evenings but as we know the Dusi isn’t like that – you have to integrate the two.
“So what I have been doing is combining my running and paddling during my training sessions. In a two hour session I have been doing both paddling and running because in the past I might have neglected that.
“I have had to work even harder on my running because I have always been able to make up that time on the river but the girls have got so much stronger on the river that I need to hold my own on the portages,” she explained.
With the current crop of ladies paddlers proving that the sport of river marathon racing is thriving, Ward understands the pressure that she will be under if she is to get on the podium at the end of the three days.
“It’s so tough now with so many strong girl paddlers,” she expressed. “You have to be right at the top of your game if you want to do well and for me it is going to be important that I don’t get carried away during the race.
“I need to stay patient and focus on what I do well and not worry about what the other girls are doing.
“The running aspect does make the Dusi a bit harder for me and on day one I know that I just need to hold my own.
“It is going to be another really exciting race and I am looking forward to another big Dusi challenge,” she said.