Pietermaritzburg - Fresh off his victory at the Dragon Run surfski race in Hong
Kong, South African paddling icon Hank McGregor is eyeing a fourth consecutive
K2 title at the Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon
which takes place on Sunday, November 29.
McGregor - who has won the 2009, 2011 and 2013 K2 titles at the event - will not
take to the water on Sunday with 2016 Dusi Canoe Marathon partner Jasper
Mocké though and will instead combine with 2004 K1 Ozzie Gladwin winner and
two-time K2 Dusi champion Jason Graham.
“Jasper (Mocké) is still in Australia as he will be competing in the Perth
Doctor surfski race this weekend and Jason (Graham)’s partner, Jakub Adam, is
still overseas so we were both partnerless for this weekend,” explained Euro
Steel/Kayak Centre’s McGregor.
“Jason is a formidable athlete so hopefully we can put on a good show at Ozzie
Gladwin this weekend!” he added.
The pair have never competed together previously and enjoyed just one training
paddle together at the Kingfisher Canoe Club weekly dice shortly before
McGregor departed for Hong Kong.
However the three-time Ozzie Gladwin defending
champ isn’t concerned by the pair’s lack of time in the boat together.
“We’re going for the sub-vet prize!” chuckled McGregor.
“I’ve never done a K1 Ozzie Gladwin before but I’ve won the last three K2 races
there and each time it has been with a different partner.
“If we could make it number four this weekend that would be pretty cool but
realistically we don’t have any expectations.
“It’s a race I seem to enjoy and a fantastic event to be a part of so hopefully
we just have a good outing together on Sunday.”
While the occasion won’t allow for either McGregor or Graham to work on their Dusi partnership under race conditions, the pair will have a beady eye on
their fellow Dusi podium hopefuls, and possibly each other as well.
“It will be great to race against crews like Andy (Birkett) and Lance (Kime) as
well as Sbonelo (Khwela) and Banetse (Nkhoesa) who are definite Dusi podium
contenders and both Jason and I will be watching them closely for sure.
“It will be a great opportunity to suss those guys out and figure out their
strengths and weaknesses.
“Jason and I will probably be trying to figure out each other’s strengths and
weaknesses as well; hopefully we can only show each other our strengths though
and we can put in a good performance,” laughed McGregor.
With paddlers’ ability to run with a boat on their shoulder receiving the
ultimate test at the Dusi, McGregor has looked to maintain his running
throughout the year with Sunday’s 2km portage around Albert Falls Dam wall
another opportunity to get some kilometres under the belt.
“I’ll sit in the front and then when we get to the portage Jason will take the
boat and I’ll take the paddles,” McGregor added tongue in cheek.
“Jasper and I said we were always going to do another Dusi together so I’ve
kept my running ticking over since this year’s Dusi and have been running quite
a bit lately.
“I ran with my wife in Hong Kong, and there it is just mountains, so hopefully
that will help this weekend!”
The 2015 Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon gets underway at 09:00 on Sunday, November 29 at Albert Falls Dam and finishes 26km later at Thornvale Farm.
info can be found at www.ozziegladwin.co.za