Johannesburg - Six times Global Trader Drak Challenge champ Ant Stott has vowed to be on the start line of the race on January 21, despite his dramatic withdrawal from the Unlimited Dusi due to a niggling and painful Achilles tendon injury.
The popular Drak icon, who has won the race more than any other paddler, and has completed 12 Drak Challenges, said he would find it very difficult not to be part of the race that he loved, even if he was some way off his prime fitness.
"I will definitely be there, but I really don't know how fit I will be and how competitive I will be on race day," said Stott.
"I have had an extended layoff and not paddled for three weeks, which apart from being very frustrating, is also not great preparation for the Drak which is right on top of us now."
Stott hurt his Achilles tendon at the SA Marathon Championships.
Since then Stott has had a battery of tests done on the troublesome tendon, which has stubbornly refused to respond to all the treatment and expert opinion.
"It has been an unbelievably frustrating month," said Stott.
"It was hard to have to kiss my Dusi plans goodbye, but I really want to be on the start line for the Drak on January 21."
No matter what shape he is in, Stott will be welcomed as a legendary figure in the short history of the GT Drak Challenge, not only as a paddler who has triumphed in the two-day 70km race more than any other, but as a paddler who has selflessly coached and advised countless novices on the intricacies of the Drak course.
The Drak Challenge takes place in Underberg on January 21 and 22.