Andy Birkett and Lance Kime powered their way through the final stage on Saturday, extending their lead to win the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon by more than 10 minutes.
The Euro Steel duo were relieved to stretch their significant advantage after three days of river racing in KwaZulu-Natal.
“You forget that everyone is tired on the final day,” said Birkett, who bagged his sixth title at the annual race.
“Everyone is racing on tired bodies because the racing on day one and day two is really tough. You push it to the limit on those first two days which means that you need to keep your momentum on day three and try and not let the pace dip for too long.”
Multiple world marathon champion Hank McGregor and partner Jasper Mocke overcame a navigational error to cross the line in second place, with Sbonelo Khwela and Banetse Nkhoesa filling the bottom step on the podium.
The Under-23 pairing of Andrew and Alan Houston, who were in third place overnight, took a knock when Alan fell ill, and they had to settle for fourth position.
Meanwhile, six-time runner-up Abby Solms and Czech world marathon champion Anna Koziskova coasted to a convincing victory in the women’s race.
“It was down to our hard work, experience and preparation that we had such a smooth race,” Solms said.
“Nothing went wrong today. It was just a hard day because of the conditions that we were faced with.”
Tamika Haw and Alex Adie took second position, more than half an hour off the pace, and teenagers Cana Peek and Kyeta Purchase grabbed third spot.
Much like the Houston pairing in the men’s race, Jenna Ward and Vanda Kiszli, who were lying second overnight, also succumbed to illness and missed out on a podium place.