2018 was set to be another exciting year on the river, with several crews putting their hands up for the overall winner’s title after three days of paddling from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
With the water levels at the level they are, it was with great relief that a fair amount of rain was received a few days before race start, bringing the levels up to almost race level without even any water releases! Day 3 water had also been confirmed, although a lot less than normal, but was still good news that at least some paddling could be done on the last section into Durban.
Day 1 of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon started off in a frenzy, with the paddlers heading down from Camps Drift, through the suburbs of Pietermaritzburg and out into the start of the Valley. It was soon to be a five crew race, small gaps between them. Leading to the finish were the race favourites of Birkett & McGregor, closely followed by Ntondini & Khwela, and Folscher & Boros. The ladies race was ore one-sided, with the Peek sisters, despite their early disastrous swim at Ernie Pierce Wier, shot through the field with their running abilities far superior than the rest of the field.
Day 2 provided plenty of drama in the men’s field. Around Confluence area, Birkett & McGregor bent their rudder forcing them to stop for maintenance at Marianne Foley, but not before falling back several places before then. Three other crews had past them in the process, but they soon manage to catch up with Folscher/Boros, and together they worked hard on the dam and managed to catch up with Ntondini/Khwela and Stott/Nkhoesa. With the ladies race, it was more of a one sided affair with the Peek sisters opening up a bigger gap, and had a 5min gap by the end of the day over Hartley/Mackenzie.
Day 3 was probably one of the most exciting final day on the river I have witnessed in my 12 years of shooting the Dusi Canoe Marathon. With 4 crews heading down to Durban neck and neck, the lead changed several times. It was only right at the end when a minor error on the side of Ntondini/Khwela handed the lead to Birkett/MacGregor which they then capitalised on and never let go. The Peek sisters managed to hold on to their lead and took line honours in the ladies race.