Pietermaritzburg - Despite having an Olympic medal in sprint canoeing, South
African golden girl Bridgitte Hartley has taken a lot longer to earn her river
paddling stripes, and with the 2017 Dusi Canoe Marathon just two months
away Hartley has had to get to grips with KwaZulu-Natal river conditions
The baptism of fire for Hartley has not been any easier as the drought
conditions continue to grip the majority of the province and with only a
handful of opportunities to cut her teeth in Dusi-style conditions she is
trying to rack up as many miles as possible.
“I have done the Fish a couple of times but besides for that I think I have
only done the KZN races once!” the Euro Steel star commented.
“This season is definitely a challenge for me mainly as I don't have a gauge to
compare things to. It is mostly a first time experience for me.
“With Dusi not too far away and little chance to trip the river I have got to
take advantage and do as many of the pre-Dusi races as I can so I can get some
familiarity with the conditions. I have seconded so many times but as a paddler
it is completely different. “
Hartley has managed to get some miles in her portaging legs after she won the
Umpetha Challenge that finishes with a vicious up-hill portage, and then
claimed second at the Ozzie Gladwin, presented by Parklane Superspar, so she is
quickly coming to grips with the rigors of running with a boat.
“If you can run well as you paddle then you will have so much leverage at the
“My paddling isn't bad and I feel that if I neglect it for a bit I won't get
worse so that means that I have a bit more time to focus on my running.
“At this stage I am really enjoying my running and don't dread having to get
out on the road and run,” she mentioned.
With her last major multi-day race coming at the Hansa Fish in October where
she finished second behind Abby Solms, she has managed to use those positive
elements as well as newly developed paddling relationships to give her the
boost she needs ahead of the three-day challenge in February.
“One thing that was encouraging looking back at the Fish was that I managed to
pull away from Robyn (Owen) and Jenna (Ward), so my speed and fitness levels
“I have been training with some of the Maritzburg College boys and was
encouraged when I was still with them on the Umpetha Challenge until I swam at
“I know that they have more experience than me and it was good for me to see
that I was able to stay with them and follow their lines - it means I am
improving,” a positive Hartley added.
More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za