Durban - Having accepted the offer the paddle the Dusi with seven
times champion Andy Birkett, world champ Hank McGregor is finding the approach
to the 2018 edition of the three day classic totally invigorating.
"When Andy (Birkett) asked me, I thought it would be a great idea. The world
number one and two teaming up for the Dusi - that's not going to happen that
often!" he quipped.
"What I didn't see coming was the way we would be doing our running training.
Shortly after Andy and I agreed to do the Dusi together I was contacted by his
running coach, and suddenly there was a running programme!"
"I have never had a running coach or training programme before. I used to just
run as part of my training, some of it with a boat.
"Now we have a really thorough, intensive programme that we are following, and
it is feeling fantastic!" said McGregor.
McGregor spent much of the end-of-year holiday in Underberg where he kept up
the thorough running regime, enjoying the added benefit of training at
"I have always come into the Dusi as a strong paddler, but my running hasn't
been as strong as some of the other guys.
"The running programme will change a lot of that," he added. "I am feeling so
good running now, with the mix of hill sessions, endurance and running with the
boat, that I might even target a Comrades after this!"
McGregor has also settled into a comfortable arrangement with his team-mate Birkett, who has been the dominant force in the Dusi during the past
"I told Andy that I am happy to let him drive the boat. He will run at the back
of the boat and it will be his job to push me on the runs," he added.
"I will provide the power from the back cockpit on the water."
The combination of Birkett and McGregor has quickly been seen as a Dusi dream
team and they will start the three day race as out-and-out favourites to claim
the 2018 K2 title.
There is an added incentive for McGregor, who turned 40 recently.
"Not that many veteran paddlers have won the Dusi," he points out.
Graeme Pope-Ellis holds the record for winning the Dusi at 43. When I won it
with Martin Dreyer he was a veteran. So it would be cool to join that group."
What is noticeable is the clear spring in McGregor's step, as the new
partnership with Birkett reinvents his approach to the country's oldest and
most famous canoeing race.