Pietermaritzburg - Late entries have started pouring into the Dusi
Canoe Marathon office after heavy rainfall in the Midlands has pushed up the
level of the Msundusi River just days before the start of the first stage of
the race on Thursday, February 14.
On Monday evening a surge of water moved through Pietermaritzburg after the
steady rainfall, submerging the pontoons and jetties at the NCC clubhouse at
Camps Drift, and turning obstacles like the Ernie Pearce weir and YMCA weir
into rollercoasters of charging brown water.
At the first stage overnight stop at Dusi Bridge the level of the Msundusi rose
as much as four metres overnight before subsiding, submerging the race’s new
exit jetties and flooding the area that traditionally hosts the race officials
Race boss Steve Botha confirmed that the high level of the river would take
pressure off the water that is usually released from Henley Dam above
Pietermaritzburg, and would guarantee great water for the 1 000 paddlers that
have entered the 2019 edition of the famous three-day race.
"Ten days ago we were concerned as there was very little water in the Msundusi
system," said Botha. "With the way water is released from Henley Dam now, it
was looking like a medium-low first stage as there was no base flow in the
"That has all changed now. The water will drop over the next few days, and we
will probably not need to release any water from Henley dam for the race," he
He added that the timing of the rains was good because while it would increase
the pollution levels, the dangerous ecoli levels would drop before the race as
the bacteria has a short lifespan and would die off in the river before the
start on Thursday.
"I was also thrilled to see that the booms installed by the Dusi uMgeni
Conservation Trust (DUCT) above Camps Drift worked superbly well at trapping
the plastic and polystyrene pollution," said Botha.
"This is a ground-breaking, pioneering programme to help save our rivers from
plastic pollution and it is excellent to see it hold up so well in near flood
Botha pointed out that an extra benefit of the rains would be experienced on
the final stage from Inanda dam to Durban.
"We have an excellent working relationship with all the water management
stakeholders and they will be deciding on the ecological release from Inanda
dam for the final stage at the meeting this week before the race," said Botha.
"They have assured us that they will have at least the same water as we had last
year, which we are very grateful for. But the point was made that if there was
good rainfall in the week leading up to the race and Inanda dam was responding
well, then the ecological release that we share for the last day of the race
could be increased."
News of the rising river spread quickly on social media, and the Dusi office
was inundated with last minute entries.
"Technically entries have closed, but we understand this enthusiasm from the
paddlers to be part of a special full Dusi, so we are accommodating them as far
as we can," said Botha.
Late entries can me individually arranged through Sarah at the Dusi office on
033 342 1528.