A full Msundusi River and some courageous running saw the race favourites overshadowed in the first stage of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday as Sbonelo Khwela and Tamika Haw took the men’s and women’s stage one line honours. It was a traditionally frantic start with multiple marathon world champion Hank McGregor leading the race through the first handful of obstacles until he arrived at Taxi Rapid, where he fell out of his boat after hitting a rock and broke a foot rest. Prerace favourite Andy Birkett took control of the stage on the first portage of the day, however it was the flying Khwela who put him under pressure and passed him on the Campbell’s Farm portage.

“I am happy that I won day one, it is something that I have never done before,” Khwela said. “After the year that I have had, to be able to be out here racing against the likes of Andy [Birkett], Hank [McGregor] and Thulani [Mbanjwa] is great and I am grateful for the chance.” Tactically Khwela tried to keep ...

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