Pietermaritzburg - Tackling the Dusi Canoe Marathon with a family member is
a special experience for most, aiming to achieve the feat Houston brothers Alan
and Andrew have set themselves of challenging for 2016's Under-23 men's crown
and claiming top five place overall is as rare an opportunity as there can be.
The USN duo - 19 and 23 years-old respectively - set aside various other offers
from talented competitors to take on the 120km race from Pietermaritzburg to
Durban together, something they are looking forward to immensely.
"Alan had said he was keen to do Dusi with me a while back and then I had
a few other offers too but in the end I decided paddling with Alan would be the
easiest option as far as training goes, etc. and I'm really looking forward to
racing with him!" explained older brother Andrew.
"Alan won the Under-18 title at Dusi this year and was lying twelfth
overall until Pumphouse (Rapid and Weir) which just goes to show what a
talented paddler and runner he is.
"Also, when you race with someone it often becomes a bit like a job and
when the race is over so is the partnership.
"Racing with my brother will be a massive bonding experience for us though
and will be really special!" he added.
While the natural understanding of one another expected of a siblings' pairing
may be an advantage for the Houstons, the likelihood of a squabble between
partners occurring would also seem greater.
For the Houstons though, a strong relationship off the water has already led to
a positive partnership on it.
"Most of the time we get along really well; if we'd been twins it may have
been different!" laughed Andrew.
"One of the keys is accepting when you're wrong and I think that is
something we both are able to do quite well and I'm sure that will help us in
the boat come Dusi."
The brothers may enjoy a strong bond however Andrew does admit that accepting
that the option of Alan sitting in the front of the boat was not the easiest
thing to do.
“A lot of pride had to be swallowed!
“Eventually I had to try convince him that he was in the front not because he
is a better driver than me, but because he was lighter than me and with him
sitting in the front I could then be the powerhouse in the back!” laughed
Despite the potential joy of winning the Under-23 category in 2016, a top five
finish in such a competitive year would be the pair’s ideal.
"We've spoken about our goals and we'd definitely like to be in the top 10 at least and a top five would be awesome!
"It's my last year in Under-23 and Alan's first so trying to win Under-23s
is definitely something that has crossed our minds and if we could do that it
would be great but a top five overall would still be the ultimate!
"Also, if we're able to get ourselves into the top five then we would
probably stand a pretty good chance of being first Under-23 anyway,"
While the young pair’s rapid rise through the paddling ranks over the past 12 months will see them go into the 2016 Dusi with a strong chance of
achieving their goal, one of the strongest K2 fields in the recent history of
the three day race will make their task that much tougher.
“It was competitive two years ago when I was paddling with Ivan (Kruger) but
not that competitive; the gaps between boats were quite big.
“A lot of stars - like Ant Stott and Len Jenkins - have made a comeback since
then though and this field will be really, really strong!”
The Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Blue
Lagoon, Durban from February 18-20, 2016.
More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za