With less than two weeks to go to the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon, a huge field of eager paddlers will gather at Albert Falls Dam on Sunday for the Lighthouse Designs Ozzie Gladwin for arguably the best opportunity to gauge Dusi racing form after a year build-up moulded by lockdown restrictions on training and competition.
The 26 km race starts with a lap on Albert Falls dam before a long Dusi style portage out of the Msinsi reserve and around the dam wall and down to the uMngeni River for a 21km river leg to the finish at Thornvale Farm.
The race, which is traditionally one of the biggest one-day races on the national calendar, forms the penultimate leg of the MyLife Dusi Series and has attracted a K1 field loaded with Dusi podium contenders.
Hank McGregor, who has won the last two editions of the Ozzie Gladwin, is itching to test himself against the likely men’s Dusi A batch hopefuls including Hamish Lovemore, who partnered him to their K2 win in the last Ozzie Gladwin in Euro Steel team colours.
The MyLife team will be fronted by another former Ozzie winner Thulani Mbanjwa, Msawenkosi Mtolo and reigning Dusi K2 champion Khumbulani Nzimande.
Bridgitte Hartley, who has been confirmed as the female paddler in the MyLife team for the Dusi will also be on the start line, along with a powerful elite women’s field that will include junior Saskia, Jenna Ward, who may opt to keep her cards close to her chest as she recovers from her ankle injury by opting to paddle in a K2 with her brother Jason.
The race uses the regular water releases from Albert Falls to Nagle Dam, which is Durban’s principle water supply source, and assures the paddlers of good water levels on the uMngeni river.
Much of the river section is easy, novice-friendly river, including obstacles like the Albert Falls weir, the Cascades and a series of fun rapids below the Wartberg road bridge covering the three kilometres into the finish at Thornvale Farm.
The event will be fully compliant with the event protocols set out by Canoeing South Africa for its races, and paddlers will be expected to arrive just in time for their batch starts at Albert Falls and asked to leave the finish venue as soon as they have finished their paddle.