Pietermaritzburg - The 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon is on our doorstep and
participants of the 64th edition of the iconic three day paddling event from
Pietermaritzburg to Durban will once again paddle the same channels and run the
same paths as the race's late founder Dr Ian Player.
Paddlers get their 120km journey underway on Thursday, February 19 at Natal
Canoe Club's headquarters at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg on the Msundusi
River with the goal of reaching the estuary of the Mngeni River at Blue Lagoon
in Durban on Saturday, February 21.
Thursday's 42km opening stage gets starts with the early morning, atmospheric
journey out of Pietermaritzburg with paddlers' opening obstacles being Ernie
Pearce Weir, YMCA Weir, Mussons Rapid and Taxi Rapid.
The day is however renowned for its various tough portages, the first of which
is the Sewage Farm Hop at the Darvil Sewage Works before the testing Campbell's
Most of the top paddlers will opt not to put their boat pack into the river at
Campbell's Bridge and instead will continue running with their boat through the
Hole in the Wall portage.
More running at the Guinea Fowl and Geoff's Road, Finger Neck as well as
Cabbage Tree portages while some paddling obstacles such as The Maze and
Mission Rapid eventually brings paddlers to the overnight stop at Dusi Bridge.
Friday's stage two is the longest and toughest of the three as the 46km journey
finishes with an 11km grind across Inanda Dam to Msinsi Resort.
Saddles 1 and 2 portages will get the blood pumping early on before the
Msundusi River joins the Mngeni River with the increase in the volume of water
sees paddlers presented with a more technical paddling challenge.
After reaching Marianni-Foley Causeway - the halfway point in the race -
paddlers the charge up Nqumeni Hill to avoid the deadly Mamba Gorge before
tackling the infamous 'Big Three' - Gumtree, Thombi and Hippo Rapids.
The sight of the second stage's finish line at the end of the long, twisting
and tiring flatwater stretch is a welcome one for all while the thought of the
shortest 36km stage lying ahead on Saturday also brings great relief.
The final stretch into Durban offers paddlers some of the more exciting and
enjoyable rapids in KwaZulu-Natal and after a brief 4km sprint across Inanda
Dam, the cool waters of the Mngeni River await paddlers at the tricky Tops
Once safely through the first paddling challenge of the day, paddlers are faced
with Side Chute and Umzinyathi Rapids before having to make a choice just above
Little John Rapid of whether to continue paddling - and tackle some the
toughest rapids of the race such as Island 1 and 2 as well as Five Fingers
Rapids - or run over the never-ending and steepest portage of the three day
journey, the infamous Burma Road.
Most elite paddlers choose to run these days and as they crest the notoriously
gruelling hill, they are greeted with their first glimpse of Durban.
Bouyed by the end drawing near, paddlers call on their reserve tank of energy
supplies as they face up to the final few kilometres before the flat waters of
The man-made Pumphouse Weir and Rapid present paddlers with the final major
obstacle of the race before the last flatwater grind to the finish line at Blue
Lagoon where family, friends and the resounding sense of achievement await.
The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in
Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21
February 2015. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za