NEXT year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon, from February 15 to 17, looks set to be one of the pivotal events in the rich history of the race, with the organising committee making the decision to officially move the start downstream from Pietermaritzburg to the Bishopstowe Country Club.
Water quality at the 2023 race meant the organisers were forced to move the start from Camps Drift, and competitors in February this year set off on the epic three-day journey to Durban from Bishopstowe Country Club.
It was the first time since Ian Player’s failed attempt to navigate from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 1950, and the first official event in 1951, that the race had not started in Pietermaritzburg.
“The positive feedback we received from the decision to move the start downriver this year was overwhelming, and we have opted to make Bishopstowe Country Club the start venue once again,” said organising committee chairman Steve Botha. “By changing the start, we believe we can make sure paddlers have a vastly improved experience, and we expect the competitors to have a race that is way more enjoyable.”
The decision to move the start of the race downstream because of the pollution is somewhat ironic when one remembers one of Ian Player’s motivations for starting the event was to highlight environmental concerns for the area.
For the 2024 event, the first day will now start at Bishopstowe, about 14km downstream from the traditional Camps Drift start venue. Paddlers will finish Day 1 near the confluence of the Msundusi and uMngeni rivers, a few kilometres downstream from Dusi Bridge, the traditional finish venue for the opening stage.
Day 2 will finish at Inanda Dam as normal, and the final day will take paddlers to Blue Lagoon.