Racers at the Burma Road portage during day three of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, February 16 2019. Picture: DARREN STEWART/GALLO IMAGES
Racers at the Burma Road portage during day three of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, February 16 2019. Picture: DARREN STEWART/GALLO IMAGES

With just more than a month until the 70th edition of the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon, organisers have shifted seeding and qualifying races to the next few weeks to give paddlers the best possible chance to be ready for the three-day race from March 18-20.

The local KwaZulu-Natal calendar has been condensed into the next three weeks to give top paddlers the best chance to get a good seeding for the race and to give paddlers a feel of what racing on the Msunduzi and Mngeni rivers will be like, particularly given the unusually good summer rainfall.

The weekend of  February 20-21 will host two of the most important build-up races, with the Campbell’s to Dusi Bridge race providing a dress rehearsal for a key part of the first day, while Sunday’s 50-Miler helps sharpen skills as it covers most of the Dusi’s second stage.

The next weekend’s action takes paddlers from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon, giving paddlers insight into what to expect from the third and final day of the Dusi.

In close consultation with the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union, the organisers have decided to take a common-sense approach to paddlers looking to qualify for the 2021 Dusi.

“As far as the number of Dusi qualifying races go, six is required under normal circumstances,” race organiser Shane Le Breton said.

“Two of these may be club trips organised by club safety officers who then send us a list of all the participants. Two of these may also be a swift water course with Rob Hill, who also sends us a list, so there are several options for paddlers to get to the six mark.

“For [the] Dusi this year we will certainly be reasonable, and anyone a little short on the six should apply for consideration with the details of what they have actually managed to complete.”

As there are four races between this week and the Dusi, many paddlers can get close to that six-race threshold.

“Paddlers just need to be reasonable in their expectations,” Le Breton added. “Two Klips or two Upper Umgeni races are not going to cut it, but say Campbell’s to Dusi Bridge, 50 Miler and the Two-Day Klip or Inanda to Durban would be fine.”

For paddlers in Johannesburg, the Two-Day Klip has been moved to the end of February to give them a chance to qualify, with the organisers happy that the race will be sufficient with others for paddlers looking to tackle the Dusi.

Another means to entry is the traditional Five Times Rule, which allows less experienced paddlers who lack sufficient proficiency to paddle the Dusi in the back of a K2 with someone who has completed five Dusis.

Given the situation and how it is continuously changing, organisers have stressed they are more than willing to assess each case on its own merit.

Normal entries for the 2021 Dusi Canoe Marathon close at midnight on March 1.

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