With five-time world marathon champion Hank McGregor and four-time Dusi winner Ant Stott participating in mixed doubles with family members, the battle up front was expected to be spearheaded by defending K1 champion Lance Kime, four-time Dusi winner Andy Birkett, Sbonela Kwhela, who won the K2 title with Birkett last year, and Thulani Mbanjwa, another former K2 winner.
In the women’s race, Laura O’Donoghue hoped to end her paddling career in style in the absence of fierce rivals Abby Adie, who was also tackling this year’s race in the mixed doubles category, and Robyn Kime.
Three-time runner-up O’Donoghue, returning to action this season after spending some time away from the sport, confirmed this was likely to be the last race of her career.
Her strongest challenge was expected to come from last-minute entry Jenna Ward, along with the experienced Hilary Bruss, Peek sisters Jordan and Cana, and 2014 podium finisher Tamika Haw.
The race, held in honour of Dusi founder Dr. Ian Player who died in November, will end on Saturday.
Dusi by numbers:
1 – Number of finishers at the inaugural edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 1951 (Dr. Ian Player)
6 – Days taken by Player to complete the first Dusi
15 – The record for the most Dusi titles, held by the late Graeme Pope-Ellis
17 – The age of Nokukhanya Shange, who aims to become the youngest ever black female to finish a K1 Dusi
40 – Number of Dusi races Nigel Briggs is hoping to complete this year, to join an exclusive club which consists of six other members
46 – Record for the most number of Dusi finishes by any individual, held by Pope-Ellis
12 902 – Number of paddlers who have finished at least one Dusi Canoe Marathon
23 150 – The average number of paddle strokes required to complete the race
381 712 – Record amount of money in rands raised through the Dr. Ian Player Memorial Charity Batch in 2015