Adventure Sport

Team Best 4 dominate 50 Miler

2011-12-04 13:36
Thulani Mbanjwa and Sibonelo Zondi (Dave Macleod/Gameplan Media)
Inanda dam - Thulani Mbanjwa and Sibonelo Zondi won the Land Rover Hansa 50 Miler, setting themselves up as favourites for The Unlimited Dusi in February, while Team Best 4 Kayak Centre boats filled five of the top six places overall in a race where good sportsmanship prevailed over controversy.

Mbanjwa and Zondi won the first stage comfortably, banking a three minute lead over Kwanda Mhlope and Maritzburg College schoolboy James Speed, with the defending Dusi K2 champs Andy Birkett and Jason Graham eight minutes off the pace.

Birkett and Graham had a blinder of a second day from Dusi Bridge to Inanda dam, posting the fastest time of the day, but they were unable to pose a threat to Mbanjwa and Zondi's overall lead.

A cloud hung over the race on Saturday after controversy about the Guinea Fowl portage. The race was being led by new Team Best 4 Kayak Centre paddler Len Jenkins and Shaun Rubenstein with Birkett and Graham right on their rudder when they paddled past the traditional portage take-out, expecting to see the later take-out marked.

Instead they dropped into the start of the dangerous Cascades rapids, and realising their  mistake they paddled to the bank and portaged back to the start of the take-out, effectively ending their title chances in the traditional pre-Dusi warm up race.

An ultimately unsuccessful protest was lodged by the Team Best 4 Kayak Centre management, but by that time the athletes had taken the view that what happened on the water should stay on the water.

"That's sport," said Birkett. "We had no choice but to accept that we made a mistake, and to try and do the best we could from the position we were in. Mbanjwa and Zondi were very good out there and try as we might, we didn't even get close enough to them to see them, even on the dam, so hats off to them," he added.

The women's race fell to the on-form Howick twins Abby and Alex Adie, who finished in sixteenth place overall, with another Team Best 4 Kayak Centre boat second, piloted alternately by Robyn Kime and Hilary Pitchford, some seven minutes further back.

A field of around 600 paddlers entered the race which ran over an extended version of the traditional first and second day route of The Unlimited Dusi on a medium level Umsindusi and Umgeni rivers.

More information can be found at

Summary of results:

50 Miler


1. Thulani Mbanjwa/Sibonelo Zondi 6:19.42
2. Andy Birkett/Jason Graham 6:25.38
3. Kwanda Mhlope/James Speed 6:L26.16
4. Len Jenkins/Shaun Rubenstein 6:41.58
5. Brandon van der Walt/Clinton Cook 6:44.16
6. Gavin Shuter/Alex Roberts 6:47.31
7. Dirk van den Berg/Mark Essery 6:47.38
8. Shaun Biggs/Ben Biggs 6:47.38
9. Thomas Ngidi/Nhlanhla Cele 6:47.51
10. Richard Cele/John Ngcobo 6:49.27


1. Alex Adie/Abby Adie 6:58.01
2. Robyn Kime/Hilary Pitchford 7:05.57


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