Pietermaritzburg – After some significant rain in the uMsundusi system
recently, the ever-green Thulani Mbanjwa opted to do some training on the river
ahead of the 2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon from February 14-16, 2019.
The 35-year-old won his only Dusi title in a K2 with Martin Dreyer in 2008 but
has been a perennial top five finisher at the iconic three-day race. In the
three previous K1 editions of the event he has a fifth, a fourth and most
recently a third place finish overall.
Mbanjwa has always been one of the most liked paddlers around and is always
sporting a smile, even after the toughest of days, but the veteran knows that
he has what it takes to finish in the upper tier of results again in 2019.
"I am ready to fight for it next year," a determined Mbanjwa said.
"As I get older I know that I have to push myself even harder to keep up
with the younger guys but I have always said you cannot buy experience.
"You have to be clever about where you put your nose when you paddle the
Dusi. It doesn't matter how quick you are on the flat water if you haven't done
your preparation on the river."
After an impressive storm earlier in the week, Euro Steel's Mbanjwa and a
training group were able to get onto the river to refresh their minds on lines
through some of the major obstacles they will come across in less than two
"It was probably only the second time I have been on the river training
but it was good to get that river paddling feeling back.
"I needed to remind myself of the lines down Mission and some of the other
sneaks so I enjoyed getting back on the river," he added.
Mbanjwa has watched Euro Steel team mate Andy Birkett win the previous two K1
races and believes that he will be the man to watch again in 2019, however
understands that there will be a number of other paddlers challenging for the
"Andy will be on top of his game next year. Even if he isn't in KZN being
able to paddle his surfski is good training for river racing.
"Even though Sbonelo (Khwela) hasn't featured so far he is going to peak
at the Dusi and is training really hard so you can never count him out.
"Banetse (Nkhoesa) and Stew Little are also going really well and there
are a few Change a Life paddlers that are looking strong as well.
"It is going to be a really good race again. I am looking forward to the
challenge," Mbanjwa said.
He might be slightly older than his fellow Dusi top five competitors, but
Mbanjwa isn't too keen to talk retirement just yet.
"As long as I have the time and the energy to train I will keep coming
back and competing.
"Judging by where I am at the moment in terms of early season results I
think I am in good shape and as long as I can keep on doing well I'll carry on
racing hard," Mbanjwa concluded.