15-17 February 2024

Dusi changes may well play into McGregor’s hands

Hank McGregor (front) and Andy Birkett (back) running on their way to a MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon win in 2018.

With the rescheduling of the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon to 18-20 March former K1 and K2 champion Hank McGregor says he is ready to put his hand up when the iconic three days classic gets under way at Camps Drift.

Following the cancellation of the recent N3TC Drak Challenge during the height of the second wave of Covid-19 infections in South Africa the racing goalposts are constantly shifting which tends to make planning difficult.

“There has been so much uncertainty with events being cancelled left, right and centre, and the Dusi moving a month later. It makes is really difficult to train for anything!” lamented McGregor.

He pointed out that many elite athletes had planned their training to peak for the MyLife Dusi in mid-February, and the date change effected by the national and provincial calendars rolling out a month had played havoc with the athletes training plans.

McGregor said that the regulations barring access to dams, rivers and beaches had also hamstrung elite paddlers trying to keep up their training routines.

“As frustrating as it was, there is no way we could try and break the law just to go training,” he said. “We could drive down to the beachfront with our surfskis on the roof and look at the sea but not get onto the water legally.

“We agreed that we had to set an example and not try to be sanction-busters because that would encourage other paddlers to do likewise. Canoeing SA has done a great job getting us back to training and some events during this lockdown and we can’t have some selfish individuals jeopardising that,” added the 43 year-old Euro Steel star.

The eleven-times marathon world champion has been staying in shape, and says that the lockdown has forced him to increase his running which may well play into his hands when the MyLife Dusi does finally get under way.

“My wife Pippa and I run at Holla trails just about every day, so I am in great running shape,” said McGregor. “Better than I have been for many, many years.

“Bring on the Dusi!” he added.

“Some of the runners might get a bit of a fright on the portages.”

McGregor won the K1 Dusi title in 2005 and then added the doubles title to his impressive CV the following year when he partnered the “Dusi Duke” Martin Dreyer. He claimed a second K2 title 12 years after his first doubles triumph, this time with Andy Birkett.