Pietermaritzburg - This year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon will use cutting-edge timing technology that will elevate the famous three day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban to being arguably the best timed canoeing river marathon in the world.
The collaboration between the well-established KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union timekeepers and commercial timing company Finish Time will see each kayak fitted with a first-of-its-kind silicon chip that will allow every athlete to be timed at three points on each stage of the race, proving a major boost for race safety and a new tool that will allow seconders and friends to keep track of their paddlers.
In a world-first, special adhesive T-shaped decals will be issued to every participant in the race to be affixed to the front deck of their kayak and which contains a unique chip and UHF transmitting antenna that will be read by timing stations at two points on each stage as well as the stage finish.
The unique decal chips were tested at the recent Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon with a 100% success rate, paving the way for the Dusi bosses to include the innovation for the 2015 race.
"This is a brand new innovation that supplements the official race timekeepers work," says Dusi Canoe Marathon’s General Manager, Brett Austen Smith. "It is a major value-add for the paddlers, their support crews and friends and families all over the world and it will be a very useful tool to support the existing timekeeping functions."
Each paddler will register their unique chip and follow a simple QR code to allow results to be sent to their personal Facebook profiles as well as to their cellphone by SMS.
Anyone will be able to log onto the Dusi website where a dedicated page will allow them to search for any paddler taking part, and check their progress through the timing stations on each stage.
They will also be able to watch a video clip of each paddler crossing the finish line at the end of each stage and download a daily certificate with all their stage timing splits.
Craig Eldridge of Finish Time says that tackling a canoeing race posed unique challenges that don't exist in the many cycling, triathlon, swimming and running events that they time every weekend.
"We’ve had to develop a tough new format for the chips to withstand the rigours of the Dusi, with the potential for damage in the rapids and on the portages," said Eldridge.
"The transmitting technology can be affected by water and materials such as carbon and kevlar, so it has taken us a while to develop the adhesive sticker that contains the embedded technology, and keeps it away from these materials that might interfere with the signal.
Austen Smith said he was sure the innovation would be warmly welcomed by the paddlers, their supporters and the media as it brought a whole new technological dimension to the race that is built on cornerstones of 64 years of tradition and runs through remote areas of the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
"Paddlers will need to ensure they follow the guidelines to take full advantage of the electronic timing.
"This will involve simple disciplines like making sure they 'beep themselves in' each day by crossing the timing lane at the start of each stage and making sure they pass through the well-marked timing stations along the course daily.
"From a safety point of view, this new timing technology will be a massive boost that will allow us to account for every single participant to within a small section of the race course on each day," says Austen Smith.
The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za