Jenkins targets 6th Fish title
Len Jenkins (John Vellacott/Gameplan Media)
Cradock - KZN ace Len Jenkins has confirmed that he will be out to extend his unbeaten run and total domination of the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon when the race gets under way at Grassridge dam on Friday 5 October.
“Fisher King” Jenkins is sizing up his sixth overall win in succession since his record breaking win in 2001, while other paddlers agonize over how he manages to race the 84km race harder than any other athlete on the water.
World marathon champion Hank McGregor just calls him a freak. “He is the King of the Fish without a shadow of a doubt,” says McGregor. “There is no-one else on this planet who is able to go flatbox for three hours like Len does on the first stage. He is a freak and I respect that.”
“I actually don’t know why I have been so successful at the Hansa Fish,” muses Jenkins. “That first day just seems to have been made for me. I love the river and somehow I am able to go flatout for the whole of the first stage, which might be the difference.”
“It is a long way, and by the time I get to the finish I am red-lining,” says Jenkins. “If it was another couple of kilometres further I would go bang!”
But Jenkins biggest challenge this year won’t be the rapids and weirs over the two days or the top class field that is currently assembling, it will be the often unpredictable task of recovering from the trip to the World Marathon Championships in Rome less than two weeks before the Hansa Fish.
The NCC ace has been in superb form this season, and hopes to podium at the world title decider in Italy before heading down to Cradock to prepare for his title defence.
“It is very do-able, but I will be in the same boat as guys like Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt who will also racing at the worlds. The trick is just not to get sick from all the travelling.”
Jenkins has always been happier in a single, and while he has been successful in many K2 combinations, he has had far more failures in doubles than singles. In 2010 Jenkins and Matt Bouman looked to have the race sewn up after the first stage only to be reeled in by Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt on the final day.
“I think I have a different boat-feel, which is why I love K1 racing.” admitted Jenkins.
The Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place in Cradock on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 October and will decide the SA K1 River Championships.Len Jenkins at the Fish River Canoe Marathon:
K1 championship years
1997 – 1st U16
1999 – 1st U18
2001 – 1st and 1st U21
2003 – 1st
2005 – 1st
2007 – 1st
2009 – 1st
2012 - ?