Following on from one of the best Dusi Canoe Marathon’s in the past decade, endurance paddlers have a two week turnaround before the annual Non-Stop Dusi, which gives paddlers the opportunity to tackle the fabled ‘Dusi in a Day’ on Friday, 13 March.
The unique event has become a staple in the post-Dusi season as paddlers are still in good shape following the three day epic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
What sets it distinctly apart from the Dusi follows is the ‘bare-minimum’ set of rules which gives the paddlers a lot of liberty to opt for longer portages that cut out sections of the river, making the course shorter than the Dusi but placing greater demands on the participants’ running strength.
The one rule is that participants have to go under the College Road Bridge at the start, after which they are at liberty to choose their own route, providing they pass through a few compulsory check points.
Euro Steel/Red Bull's Sbonelo Khwela is in line to become the first paddler to win the Non-Stop Dusi ten times should he take on the challenge again in 2020.
Khwela has won, either in a K1 or K2, for the last seven years in a row and has become the undisputed king of the Non-Stop Dusi over the past decade.
20-time finisher of the race Rhys Foster was the first entry into this year’s race and will take it on with partner James Tutton. Foster wouldn’t miss the event for the world.
“I remember when I was at school at Maritzburg College the Non-Stop was one of those events that was unattainable,” he said reflectively. “It seemed like the toughest race in the world and I wanted to do it so when I started I just haven’t stopped!
“It continues to test my limits and that is what I want from the event. It’s also playing a part in my preparation for the Ultra-Trail® Mont Blanc which is my ultimate goal this year.”
This year it is expected that paddlers will receive some much-needed assistance from water releases from Henly Dam and from Inanda Dam, but for Foster the appeal of the event is that it is a take-it-as-it-comes challenge.
“It is such a raw event and there is no pampering or pom-poms when you finish! It’s the only race that I do every year and I will keep coming back as long as I possibly can.
“My birthday is the day before the race this year so I see it as a bit of a birthday present to myself!”
Foster and Tutton will take on the Dusi in a Day together and for Foster having Tutton, who is a KwaZulu-Natal resident, as a partner is gold for him.
"Living in Johannesburg means that James has got to be my eyes on the river.
"He is the one that makes sure that we know where we are going on the day and it's great to paddle with someone familiar considering we've done the last four together.
"We can just jump in the boat and go. If there are any issues though, we have 120km to work them out," he laughed.
The Garden City Commercials Non-Stop Dusi takes places from Camps Drift to Blue Lagoon on Friday, 13 March 2020.