Archive for January 2010

DUSI FEVER…. 2010

                       ERIC & THOMAS CROSS THE FINISH LINE – 3RD OVERALL

In the Race organiser’s words at the media briefing, “This is the biggest thing in Dusi history, alongside  Dreyer and Mbanjwa’s win in 2008”

 

Tripping the Dusi route by car and foot. 

Lack of real rain destroyed any paddling opportunities to fine-tune knowledge down the rapids. So we jumped in the ‘Change a Life’ bus and tripped the entire Dusi from A to Z by car and foot a few days before race-day.

Armed with bush knives, panga’s, slashers and a bow saw, we gave the entangled, overgrown vegetation on Burma a ‘short back & sides’ trim to guarantee easy passage up the goat path and over to the water’s edge on the other side.

A cruel blow was dealt to the partnership of Nkosi and Tom, in that Tom was unable to compete as his shin splints were still too severe to run. And so the ‘Change a Life’ team was one top crew short. Knowing/seeing the determination and effort Nkosi has put into training, made me feel sad for him as he stood partnerless on the eve of the biggest race of his life. He had no choice but to dust off the cobwebs of his single canoe to go man alone.

 

Day to Day account of the top four ‘Change a life’ Boats.

 

The start Canon blasted and the still waters of Campsdrift churned alive, as the 60 paddlers from A-batch jostled for position .

 

Day 1

My top ‘Change a life’ crew of Thomas & Eric went into the first long 6km portage with all guns blazing. They scalped six crews, going from 14th to 6th. In Thomas’s words “Its now or never”. They continued to push to the limits and crossed the finish line in an incredible 3rd overall. 

Youngsters Kwanda and Lance had a text book day, confidently finishing (6th) in the sought after Top Ten – gold medal category. Zonele and Nhlanhla swam down the tricky Maze rapid. On the last portage – Cabbage Tree,

Zonele was suffering from the intense pace earlier on. Such is the toughened character of these Valley boys, that he never let up, finishing 9th. These two crews were lying 1st & 2nd in the under 21 category respectively.

Lucas and John’s legs failed them on the portages, when cramps paralysed them midway. However they kept it together on the water and soldiered on, finishing 11th position. My hopeful three boats in the Top Ten was on track.

Day 2

Elapsed Time – Competitors start in the order they finished from the day before.

With a only a 3min lead on 4th, Thomas and Eric took off like there was no tomorrow. Todays racing was tricky because of the full river, making no room for error.

Negotiating the tricky river obstacles like experts and 2 1/2hrs of racing under the belt and 1/2hr to go, the 4th boat finally caught them on the Inanda Dam and so they crossed the finish line together.

Kwanda and Lance were holding onto their 6th position until halfway, when disaster struck. Shooting the much feared Tombi Rapid, they fell out at the bottom – which wasn’t a train smash as themselves and their boat were okay. Subsequently their boat washed downstream and wrapped around a rock – game over. I really felt for them, 4 months of dedication and hard work out the back door. They grovelled with their sinking ship to the finish line barely in the Top Hundred.

Zonele and Nhlanhla too got eaten like a raw mielie in Tombi Rapid, along with half the Dusi field who attempted it. Another swim further downstream, saw them drop from 9th to 16th.  I strongly advised them to use a more stable boat, but they wanted the same boat as their role model Michael Mbanjwa and now it was costing them. Lucas and John powered into the Top Ten having a great day all round.

USN FUELING STATION

Later that afternoon, in the blazing 40  degree heat, I took Thomas and Eric to check out the first part of Burma Hill – to make peace with this colossal mountain where it would be the make or break of their race.  

Day 3

Lucas/John had a freak accident when another boat T-boned their canoe in the first rapid of the day – Tops Needle, making a hole in the nose and causing them to swim. His Top Ten chances were figuratively speaking, washed downstream. They fought back bravely to finish 13th.

Zonele/Nhlanhla pulled up two positions to finish 14th, even with another swim .

Kwanda/Lance cruised Day 3, enjoying the scenery, interacting with the other paddlers, placing 91st. 

Home Gerome….  Paddling along the final stretch with the crowds applauding loudly they stopped and waved numerous times, savouring the moment, before crossing the Finish Line in Third position – becoming the first Black crew to get a podium placing.

 

A titanic battle for that last podium position was in the making. Thomas and Eric paddled with Jacques and Piers (3 & 4th position) across the dam and ran for all they were worth down to the river. Forty minutes into the race, Jacques/piers were 1min 30sec ahead. Then came Burma Hill. Thomas/Eric shouldered their Canoe and attacked the mountain like their lives depended on it. Jacques/Piers opted to paddle around and came unstuck when they took a swim in Five Fingers rapid. Now all that stood in their way of securing a podium position was the biggest rapid of the race – Pumphouse Weir. It was here that race leaders Stott/Mbanjwa swam and Birkett/Graham took over the lead to win the Race. Thomas steered a great line through the monster roller coaster rapids to come out below the rapid unscathed.

        Michael Mbanwja/Ant Stott, Andrew Birkett/Jason Graham, Thomas Ngidi/Eric Zondi 

Others….

Juniors, Mzamo and Mmeli lost valuable time when they swam at Earnie Pearce weir, only minutes from the start. Throughout the race, they just couldn’t make up the time lost, and in the end finished a very credible 25th overall and second juniors.

Richard and new recruit Spha had a stormer (18th), against all odds finishing in the Top Twenty on day 1, then some mistakes here and there, saw them finish on Day 3 in 33 position.

 

Nkosi, who paddled in a single canoe, was a machine, as he finished in 39th position overall. Showing me that he was definitely Top Ten material if Tom could’ve paddled.

For Skhumbuso and new recruit Thobani, running doesn’t come easy. They struggled with the portages on Day 1, but never gave up and managed to ground their way up the rankings, to finish in the Top fifty in 44th position.

New recruits Scelo and Siboniso, paddling in the junior category raced their hearts out. Their inexperience saw them capsize numerous times but they managed to keep their wits about them and finish proudly in 60th position.

Very new recruits Moses and Thabani, survived to finish 180th.

 Sixteen months ago, I never dreamed that the my Academy would be achieving such results. The journey has been worth every effort. The biggest thanks to Computershare ‘Change a Life’, for their phenomenal support in making all this possible. To Stan, Ursula and Mnandi, thanks too for making time to come into the Valley of a Thousand Hills, to witness the Valley boys in full action. Thanks also to USN for an unlimited supply of the ‘Ultimate Nutritional Supplements’, and to HI-TEC for a shoe for every occasion.

 

Andrew Birkett and Jason Graham upset the bookies, when they crossed the line first on Day 1, beating pre-race favourites Ant Stott and Michael Mbanjwa into second. A titanic struggle ensued on Day 2 when Stott/Bungi caught the leaders and they paddled neck and neck to the finish line. A more exciting script could not have been written, when both leading boats took out for the mammoth Burma Hill portage. Stott/ Bungi made their break as they summited and never looked back. Extending their lead to 1min 30sec on the water. Being the less powerful paddlers, it now looked like it was game over for Birkett/Graham. However lady-luck came to their rescue, when Stott/Bungi fell out in the Pumphouse rapids, 1hour from the finish. There was no stopping them now, Birkett/Graham crossed the finish line first – putting an end to one of the most exciting Dusi races.

The girls race was won comfortably by Dusi Queen Abbey Miedema and Robyn Kime, but not without its dramas. Abs and Robyn goofed in the Confluence Rapids and then again dropping over the High side of Hippo rapid. Finishing 24th overall shows their pedigree. The other two women boats of Abie Adie/Lindi-May Harmse (38th) and Hillary Pitchford/Jen Hodson (41st) tussled neck and neck all the way, also finishing in the Top Fifty.

Sprachwissenschaftler nennen bezeichnungen, die sich nicht seminararbeit ghostwriter als standardbegriff etablieren können, dialektale varianten

River Side Report from Stan Lorge

We were up at 03:15 this morning to get to the river and wish good luck to Martin and the Change a Life paddlers.  Now we are at the end of Day 1 and what a great finish!  Eric and Thomas made Dusi history by being the first two black paddlers to finish on the podium – in 3rd position.  We were all so excited to see our guys coming in with 6th, 9th, 11th and 18th – we have 10 in the Top 20.  Kwanda and Lance are leading the under 21s.

This year’s event is the K2 boats with their doubles crews. Martin has tipped Michael Mbanjwa and Ant Stott to take the race this year – at present they are lying in 2nd position.

The press is keeping Martin busy and our Change a Life team is getting huge media attention.

Tomorrow is a big day – more paddling than running –  we have every confidence that our guys will continue to shine.

You can catch all the action on SuperSport One this evening at 20:00.

Stan

Happy New Year To You All – Exciting times….

                                                Kwanda & Lance at Tops Needle Rapid

With no sufficient rain since Christmas, there was an exciting buzz at the start of the Inanda Dam to Durban (3rd day of Dusi) Canoe race that took place yesterday because of the planned water release. However paddlers were disappointed as they put in to a low Umgeni River, after portaging over the Dam wall.

The first rapid – Tops Needle Rapid was a compulsory portage. The bun fight at the put-in was great entertainment for spectators as 5 boats tried to put in where there was only place for 2.

200m downstream Ant Stott and Michael Mbanjwa were the first swimmers of the day. Lack of concentration saw them clip a rock and over they went. A shallow river saw them make a speedy recovery and by Umzimyathi they were back in the lead.

             Thobani and Skhumbuso carefully negotiate Side Shute down the left. 

With the absence of the other big hitters like Len Jenkins and Hank McGregor, the Dusi lacks a story line regarding the frontrunners, it’s a one horse race for line honours. The exciting part will be the battle for the other 9 gold medal positions. 

All my ‘Change a Life’ crews did the race but there were no results. They disqualified themselves. Let me explain. It was compulsory to paddle around Burma Hill in this race, however because the ‘Change a Life’ boys will all run over Burma Hill come Dusi, they wanted to take this opportunity to do exactly that – run over Burma Hill. Also, with the river low, chances of boat damage paddling around were high. So for breaking the race rules and not to upset the race organisers they got out just short of crossing the finish line. My only crew to finish legally were the newly formed combination of Thobani and Skhumbuso. It was necessary for them to race in order to get a placing for Dusi seeding.

Plett – Sabrina Charity Challenge – Olympians Mish Erray, Natalie Du Toit, Chad Ho 

Lucas kept the ‘Change a Life’ team on the straight and narrow training path whilst I disappeared for two weeks to the Transkei Coast & Natures Valley in the Eastern Cape. Instead of putting in some big training sessions on the water, I replaced my boat and paddle for my bicycle. Next goal – Cape Epic Cycle. Exploring the never ending up and down backroads of the Transkei made me think I was back in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The long group rides with my Epic cycling partner Albe Geldenhuys on the infamous “Petrus se Brand”, “Homtini”, and Garden of Eden routes was priceless. And together with the road biking to Storms River and back and riding with Kevan Evans, kept things honest. On one particular ride we pushed to our limits, only to hear Kevin chirp at the end “this is my easy ride for the week”.

                       Self portrait at Hella Hella bridge. 

As with tackling any huge endurance event, it is always wise to redefine your limits in training. I came close on the weekend when I mountain biked from Home (close to Nagle Dam), through Maritzburg, Richmond and across the mighty Mkomaas River at Hella Hella bridge and up the other side to the Mackenzie Country Club (Sani2c day one finish). It was not the distance, but the rookie mistake of not taking enough juice, under-estimating the heat, that made the journey challenging. The ‘old turn-off the discomfort switch’ in the brain had to be applied.

  Halfway up pass, Hella Hella bridge below – not so fun any more, but good for the soul.

I have been putting alot of thought into some new prospects of Development in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

Because I have relocated to KZN and spend so much time in the ‘Valley’, I need something bigger and more challenging. Having got the ‘green light’ from Computershare Ceo – Stan Lorge and support from the Marketing Director Ursula Du Plooy, I am over the moon with what ‘could be’ going forward.

 I know, when you start saying something its unfair to stop telling, but until all my ducks are in a row I’m afraid I can’t spill the beans. 

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