Paddlers keen to be part of the 2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon have not been deterred by the one month postponement of the iconic three day event, showing confidence in the steps being in place by the organisers to ensure full compliance with the COVID-19 lockdown laws that will be in place in mind-March.
Entries for the race from 18 to 20 March are ahead of where they were at the same stage last year, and have continued to arrive at the race office after the restructuring of the national race calendar by Canoeing South Africa.
“The nature of the race itself lends itself to social distancing as no paddler is ever closer than two metres to another paddler,” said race committee head Shane le Breton. “What we are determined to do is make sure every other aspect of the race is equally compliant.”
Le Breton said that the race would not have any spectators, even at popular gathering places like the Ernie Pearce weir at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg, and that each paddler entered would be allowed a single support person to act as a driver and back-up.
“Access to the race will be strictly controlled through wristbands,” stressed Le Breton. “It will be a different Dusi without the spectators and supporters along the way, but during these times it has to be a safe Dusi.”
Le Breton pointed out that they had a myriad of different options under consideration, as the lockdown regulations are almost certain to change before the race in mid-March.
“We will control access, reduce batch sizes and stagger them further apart, and every athlete will be expected to pack up and leave the finish of each stage as promptly as possible,” he said.
“There will be no gathering or socialising opportunities like registration, overnight stops or congregating at the race finish,” he added.
Le Breton added that the unusual circumstances of the 2021 race will see a number of changes that will keep the race in line with all Covid-19 protocols.
“Seconding tables will have different roles this year,” he added. “There can be no contact so the corporates who operate these water points will probably refill paddlers water bottles while wearing gloves and masks rather than have cups and food available on a table,” he said.
“We are remaining as flexible as possible as so much can, and will, change before the race. We are encouraged that the paddlers believe we are doing this responsibly as the entries are still coming in,” he concluded.