Pietermaritzburg – Entries open on Friday for the 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon on February 15-17, which looks set to be one of the pivotal events in the rich history of the race, with the organising committee making the decision to officially move the start downstream from Pietermaritzburg to the Bishopstowe Country Club.
Water quality at the 2023 race meant the organisers were forced to move the start from Camps Drift and competitors in February this year set off on the epic three-day journey to Durban from Bishopstowe Country Club. It was the first time since Ian Player’s failed attempt to navigate from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 1950, and the first official event in 1951, that the race had not started in Pietermaritzburg.
“The positive feedback we received from the decision to move the start downriver this year was overwhelming and we have opted to make Bishopstowe Country Club the start venue once again,” said organising committee chairman Steve Botha.
“By changing the start we believe we can make sure paddlers have a vastly improved experience and expect the competitors to have a race that is way more enjoyable,” said Botha.
The decision to move the start of the race downstream, because of the pollution, is somewhat ironic when one remembers one of Ian Player’s motivations for starting the event was to highlight environmental concerns for the area.
In his foreword to Paddling and Portaging, a book published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dusi, Player wrote: “At the base of my original idea for the race there was a strong environmental concern about soil erosion, pollution and the other ills that humankind have wreaked upon the unfortunate earth. The participants come away from the race with varying degrees of understanding about the environment in which we live …(including) a harsh reminder of water pollution.”
In 1988 the race start was moved from its traditional start in Alexandra Park to Camps Drift following the construction of the Ernie Pearce Weir.
Entries open on Friday for the iconic three-day race to Durban via the Canoeing South Africa entry portal