Pietermaritzburg – The Dusi Canoe Marathon and four other local races in KwaZulu-Natal have combined to give paddlers a consolidated series of races in January and February, and at the same time honour one of South Africa’s administrative legends, John Oliver.
The new series, managed by the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Club who organise the Dusi, will be called the John Oliver Dusi Series and is made up of five events, culminating in the 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon on February 15-17. The other four events, which are all key build-up race for the Dusi, are the Ozzie Gladwin on January 14, the SMG 50 Miler on January 20 and Inanda Dam to Durban event the next day, and the Campbell’s to Dusi Bridge race on February 4.
Paddlers who complete all five events will, along with their normal Dusi medal, receive a special commemorative John Oliver medal at the conclusion of the 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Oliver is one of KZN Canoe Union’s stalwart administrators and has been a popular race official and in charge of timekeeping for the union since the 1990s, and is now also managing and co-ordinating timekeeping for Canoeing South Africa on a national basis.
“We are excited to be bringing a new series to KZN canoeing and also helping paddlers with their build up to the premier canoe race in the country,” said Dusi organising committee chairman Steve Botha this week. “But perhaps even more exciting is the fact that we are able to honour one of the true unsung heroes of South African canoeing.
“John has been part of the success of KZN and South African canoeing for more than 30 years. He has been an official and in charge of timing at events for almost as long as I can remember.
“There are a few grand-master paddlers who would have paddled with John in the 1980s and who are now still competing and getting their times recorded by him each weekend.
“He truly epitomises the concept of giving back to sport. He was a paddler in his younger days and now there is hardly a paddler in South African who does not recognise John and his famous bushy beard sitting on the river bank doing the timekeeping for events all over the country.”
Entries opened for the 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon last week and entries are already pouring in for the famous event which will start at Bisphostowe Country Club on January 15, and finish three days later at Blue Lagoon in Durban.