Adventure Sport

McGregor wins for team-mate

2012-07-14 07:11
Hank McGregor (Photo: Mouton van Zyl/Gameplan Media)
Zoutkloof - Defending champion Hank McGregor posted a bittersweet victory on the long third stage of the Berg River canoe marathon in tribute to his team-mate Grant van der Walt who was blown out of the race by a crippling stomach virus.

It was a decidedly unlucky Friday the 13th for van der Walt who had raced side by side with his Team Best 4 Kayak Centre team mate McGregor throughout the race and looked well poised for a remarkable podium finish on his debut Berg.

However the 22-year-old was hit hard by a stomach bug overnight and when he and McGregor raced into the third stage start very late on Friday morning it was clear something was amiss.

"We tried to play our cards close to our chest," explained McGregor, who kept on the outside of the large bunch that raced across Misverstand dam at a modest pace well managed by McGregor, who was nursing van der Walt.

"As we got to the dam take out he told me that there was no way he could carry on, and he told me to go it alone," said McGregor.

"I was bitterly disappointed for him, and frustrated. Before I knew it the rest of the bunch had gone and I had to start right from the back," he said.

In an emotional charge McGregor leapfrogged from one bunch to another until he caught the front bunch, being spurred on by Graeme Solomon and Lance King before the N7 bridge.

McGregor led a four boat front bunch comprising Simon van Gysen, Solomon and King through the Best 4 Bridge prize hotspot and Moravia, and then added the stage prize with a powerful sprint finish coming into Zoutkloof with a strong south westerly wind at their backs.

"This stage win is definitely for Grant (van der Walt)," said McGregor. "He was racing so well and we were having a lot of fun together. I believe he has what it takes to win this race one day."

The tight tussle between Van Gysen, Solomon and King took on new meaning with the withdrawal of van der Walt as there were suddenly two podium places and cash prizes in contention. Van Gysen hung onto the wave in the endsprint to leapfrog up into second spot overall, one tenth of a second ahead of 39 year Solomon, with the tenacious King a further five seconds back in the overall standings.

Paarl teenager Luke Stowman put in a massive effort on day three to take charge of the junior title race, deposing the gutsy Krugersdorp schoolboy Jandre Bezuidenhout and taking a minute and a half lead into the final stage.

The women's race provided riveting drama on the long tough third stage, raced on a full river and under sunny skies, but in a strong South Westerly wind.

Maties student Robyn Kime knew that she had to do something special to make inroads into Olympian Jen Theron's three minute lead. She started powerfully while Theron was strangely battling to get into top gear going across the 15km of flat-water across Misverstand dam.

Kime had a minute on Theron at the takeout and a lightning fast, Dusi-style portage saw her close to double that advantage.

"I really thought that I had blown my race," said Theron. "Luckily I kept my head, and the guys in the bunch with me kept reminding me to just race my own race and not to try and chase her."

She kept her head down until she finally caught sight of Kime, and caught up to her when she stopped to refill her juice at Klipheuwel.

"I had hit the wall by then. I was pretty blown, but I guess the adrenaline kept me going and I was able to get away, even though the bunches were changing all the time," she said.

Once Theron was out of sight Kime struggled into the finish to learn that Theron had added eleven minutes to her overnight lead.

The stage win sets up Theron impressively for the fourth and final stage into the estuary at Velddrif. She has curiously never won a major domestic canoeing title, and could break that duck with a title widely acknowledged as the toughest marathon race in the country.

The final stage of the Berg River Canoe marathon starts at Zoutkloof on Saturday and ends at Velddrif.

Stage three results:

Stage time and Overall time

1.Hank McGregor 4:54.18 11:45.08
2.Simon van Gysen 4:54.21 11:53.59
3.Graeme Solomon 4:54.20 11:53.59
4.Lance King 4:54.26 11:54.04
5.Jacques Theron 5:01.12 12:08.09
6.Robbie Herreveld 5:01.12 12:08.10
7.Heinrich Schloms 5:01.13 12:08.10
8.Edgar Boehm Jnr 5:01.14 12:16.46
9.Ivan Kruger 5:09.37 12:25.10
10.Louw van Riet 5:09.28 12:32.30
11.Graham Monteith 5:18.06 12:33.40
12.Thulani Mbanjwa 5:09.26 12:38.41
13.Loveday Zondi 5:18.51 12:48.17
14.Daan du Toit 5:09.27 12:48.35
15.Siseko Mtondini 5:22.09 12:51.33
16.Joseph Williams 5:18.09 13:00.04
17.Paul Marais 5:19.54 13:01.07
18.Matt Elliott 5:18.05 13:02.42
19.Jen Theron 5:19.53 13:03.02
20.Chris de Waal 5:22.07 13:04.09


1.Jen Theron 5:19.53 13:03.02
2.Robyn Kime 5:27.46 13:14.12
3.Jenna Ward 5:5:52.28 14:15.11
4.Kirsten Penderis 5:55.11 14:31.15
5.Robyn Henderson 5:55.01 14:32.27


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