Elizabeth Atmore
3 minute read
19 Jan 2008

Day of spills and thrills

Elizabeth Atmore

Leaders’ clash with rapid nearly ends quest for historic victory

Despite being reduced to tears after a “nasty swim”, Martin Dreyer and Michael Mbanjwa continued their record-breaking ways yesterday, winning the second day of the Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon in a record time of two hours 44 minutes and 14 seconds.

The pair lost their boat at the Ntombi rapid, which Dreyer said left him in tears after he thought he had “lost it for Mike”. But, they managed to collect themselves and cross the finish line ahead of Ant Stott and Wayne Thompson in second, and Hank McGregor and Sven Bruss in third.

Dreyer said he and Mbanjwa could “count our blessings that we made it to the end. I’ve never had a Dusi this harsh before”. It was the first time in six Dusis that Dreyer has tipped his canoe.

The final day today will be a nail biter of note, with the gap between the first two boats a mere 1.47 seconds.

Should Dreyer and Mbanjwa hang on to win they will be making history when they paddle into Durban’s Blue Lagoon this morning.

If this happens, Mbanjwa will become the first ever black winner of the race and Dreyer will move his name a bit further up the Dusi Legends board with a long string of wins.

They finished day one with a 3 m.55s lead over Hank McGregor and Sven Bruss, but day two did not bring good luck to the pair as they slipped back to third with former doubles winner Ant Stott and well-known adventure racer Wayne Thompson closing that lead down to 1m.47s at the Inanda Dam finish.

This was a complete turnaround in the luck stakes for Stott and Thompson after they were given a R1 000 fine on day one and were almost kicked out of the race for going through a no-go zone.

The forth and fifth places remain unchanged, with Deon Bruss and Nick Stubbs credited with a total time of 5.30:43 a good five minutes off a podium placing, with Greg Louw and Craig

Turton almost six minutes back on 5.36:33.

With the final day’s start being on elapsed time, it would seem unlikely that the forth and fifth placings could work together to catch up on McGregor and Bruss.

The big leveller on the river from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon is the Burma Road portage, which can give a race saving time advantage to strong runners.

They don’t come much stronger than Dreyer and Mbanjwa, who grew up in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, except that Dreyer is well on the other side of 30, while Stott and Thompson are no slouches on foot with the added advantage of youth on their side.

It appears as if there is no stopping overnight female leaders Alexa Lombard and Abbey Miedema from chalking up another title. They extended the lead from eight to almost 13 minutes, which should give them enough breathing space over Laura Thompson and Robyn Kime second on 6.27:09 with Debbie Germiquet and Hillary Jean Pitchford third on 6.43:46.