Durban - Laura O’Donoghue broke her Dusi Canoe Marathon duck as she claimed an emphatic win in the elite women’s race where she dominated from start to finish and finished ahead of Under-18 Cana Peek and Jenna Ward.
Having built up a healthy 30 minute lead going into the final day it was a matter of maintenance and consistency for O’Donoghue through the final day and that was what she produced despite feeling flat throughout the final stage of the three-day epic.
“I’m proud of my result,” she said. “I really have trained hard over the past few months, I wanted to do well and make this race count.
“The legs were really tired this morning and I think I also got a bit complacent towards the end and made a few mistakes, which was a bit disappointing, but it doesn’t really matter in the end, I’m here now and I’m really happy!”
The mother of two tasted victory for the first time on Saturday but was not tempted into returning to defend or even compete for her crown and with her children growing up the amount of time she has spent away from them has been hard.
“This is the proudest moment of my career. It has been a whole year of build-up, a lot of sacrifice for the whole family and Natal Canoe Club have really helped me achieve my dreams and I’m really excited to have finally done it,” she added.
A breath of fresh air in the women’s race in 2015 was Cana Peek. The Epworth school girl went into the race with a relaxed mindset and managed to surprise herself with her impressive second place finish ahead of a charging Jenna Ward.
“This is beyond my dreams! I didn’t think I would do this well at Dusi. It really is such a surprise!
“I was just trying to keep my second place and make my family, my friends proud. They’ve been rooting for me the whole way,” the 16 year old beamed.
Although she had Ward breathing down her neck, Peek was able to hold her off throughout the day and kept her slight advantage coming into the finish at Blue Lagoon despite a slight mishap on the treacherous Burma Road portage.
“There is a really steep part at the bottom of Burma Road and you can lose your footing on the lose gravel quite easily.
“I went tumbling down behind my boat but at the end I kind of just shook it off and kept running. I’ve got scratches all over but it was just one of those things,” she added flippantly at the end of the race.
As she had done in Friday's second stage, Marathon World Champs Under-23 Women's bronze medalist Ward went flat out from the gun as she looked to close Peek's slight gap over the final day.
The two fought it out throughout the day and with Ward opting to paddle around instead of tackling the Burma Road portage, the two came across within seconds of each other.
Ward closed the gap on Peek following the Burma Road portage and at the Silver Pipe Line Ward was only seconds in arrears however the plucky Peek managed to hold off the more fancied paddler on the flat water into the finish at Blue Lagoon.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - 2015 DUSI CANOE MARATHON
STAGE THREE - INANDA DAM-BLUE LAGOON
1. Laura O’Donoghue 2:50.46 9:40.21
2. Cana Peek (U18) 2:49.11 10:10.48
3. Jenna Ward (U23) 2:49.09 10:15.02
4. Jordan Peek (U23) 2:52.27 10:21.04
5. Hilary Bruss 2:56.58 10:29.32
6. Jane Swarbreck 2:59.04 10:46.27
7. Natasha Bulbring 2:55.14 10:57.09
8. Christie Mackenzie (U16) 3:13.52 11:28.13
9. Marion Young 3:19.19 11:54.25
10. Jessica Dicks 3:20.44 12:00.07
Under 23 Women
1. Jenna Ward 2:49.09 10:15.02
2. Jordan Peek 2:52.27 10:21.04
Under 18 Girls
1. Cana Peek 2:49.11 10:10.48
Under 16 Girls
1. Christie Mackenzie 3:13.52 11:28.13