In a field dominated by single kayaks, the mixed double entry of Danish paddler Susan Lützner and local Dusi icon Loveday Zondi stands out as the pair prepare for their second Dusi together and the feisty Danish Masters age group paddler’s third Dusi.
“The Dusi is the coolest race in the world,” says Lützner, who plans her global travels every year to coincide with major river and flatwater marathon races around the world.
“It is a totally unique race with so many challenges. There is such a great vibe, the people are lovely. I just love South Africa,” she said.
Her partnership with Zondi was fortuitous, as they struck up a conversation when they found themselves paddling together on the tough Berg River canoe marathon in the Western Cape.
They stayed in touch after the race and agreed to take on the Dusi together, which Lützner had already completed once before with Durban paddler Trenton Lamble.
“It will be our third race together, as we have done a Dusi and a Fish with Loveday before,” said Lützner. “I am dreaming about one day doing my fifth Dusi so that I can become a Dusi Rat!”
“I am lucky to have a skilled river paddler like Loveday to get us down the river,” Lützner added.
“That’s actually very important for me because we don’t have any flowing river with rapids, as the Denmark is so flat.”
“Training for the Dusi in Copenhagen in the middle of winter is also not easy. Today I realised that the steepest hill in Copenhagen looks like an average street in Durban,” she added.
Despite starting her canoeing career late in life Lützner has enjoyed success at many major marathon events around the world, and her enthusiastic reflections on those races on social media means she gets asked a lot of questions by curious fellow paddlers around the world.
“Last year, at a race in Eastern Europe Kristaps Kruzmanis came to me asking about the Dusi. I matched him up with Thembinkosi Ngcobo and now they are doing this year’s Dusi together!”
“The marathon world championships are being held in Copenhagen this year and I am really looking forward to seeing lots of my South African paddling friends there and to return the hospitality,” she said.
The Dane’s business travels take her around the world and last month she found herself in Uganda, and eager to connect with the local paddling community there, kayaking the Nile and passing on as much knowledge and training advice as she could.
“I showed them the movie “Beyond The River” (which tells the true story of Siseko Ntondini teaming up with Piers Cruikshanks to tackle the Dusi). It describes how sport can help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can develop a strong mindset that is useful in many aspects of life,” said Lützner, adding that Uganda’s minister of sport had been part of that grouping that met with her.
Lützner raced the key pre-Dusi race from Campbell’s Farm to Dusi bridge last weekend with Alex Masina, and they won the mixed double class. Now Lützner is itching to get on to the main event that starts in the early hours of Thursday 18 February.
The 2023 Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from 16-18 February