Underberg - When the field set off for the start of the KZN Mixed Doubles
champs on the uMzimkhulu River on Sunday there were a few raised eyebrows when
triple N3TC Drak Challenge champion, Len Jenkins, arrived at the start venue of
Swartberg Road bridge.
The Durban-based racer had completed the 26km trip through the fabled
Valley of a Thousand Rapids that makes up the first stage of the two day race
on January 21/22, and arrived beaming from ear to ear as the racers were
preparing for their outing.
As his followers have been accustomed to, the enigmatic Jenkins was typically
laid-back and non-committal.
"I was hiking in the Berg with my girlfriend, and happened to have
my K1 with me.
"When I saw that there was water in the river after the storm the night
before, I just decide to trip the top section, which was great fun," he
With an array of elite racers set to contest the 2017 N3TC Drak title, the
possibility of Jenkins joining the fray adds distinct spice to what is always a
very competitive race.
Jenkins surfaced at the recent Parklane SuperSpar Ozzie Gladwin race last month
where he raced to a competitive eighth place.
"That was probably my only
paddle that month," chuckled Jenkins.
Jenkins' tripping the key top section of the river will grab the attention of
the top paddlers, who all know and understand what he brings to any race that
He is a dogged competitor, not afraid to take extreme risks to assert himself
at the front of the race. He is a strong technical paddler which, combined with
brushing up his knowledge of the lines on the upper uMzimkhulu at a medium/low
level, will make him a force to be reckoned with on race day.
Last year Jenkins slipped unobtrusively into 'A' batch, finished third after the
first stage, and went on to finish second overall, despite protestations that
he was grossly under trained.
Since winning almost every major title on the domestic calendar as a youngster,
Jenkins now opts to train away from the limelight and is seldom seen at minor
races and time trials. Those close to him will account for the fact that he is
still in good shape.
Last season he came blasting back into the limelight as a partner to Siseko
Ntondini, racing onto the podium at the Hansa Fish Marathon, signalling that he
is still a serious contender on the water, even if he opts to 'fly under the
Pushed to commit to entering and challenging for a fourth N3TC Drak title,
Jenkins is typically evasive.
"Yah, we'll see if there is water for the race. Maybe," he adds, every
edge of mystery serving to deepen the enigmatic halo that surrounds the
2017 N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon takes place in the Southern Drakensberg
on January 21/22, 2017.
More information can be found at www.drak.co.za