Christie Mackenzie, who started the final 36km stage into Durban with an eight minute lead, made life difficult for her MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon title defence by capsizing in the full river four times, giving second placed Jordan Peek a real chance of a major upset.
“It was just a super-pressured last day, but those four swims and the headwind made the racing really honest,” Mackenzie said. “Luckily I managed to keep a slight lead over Jordan Peek by the time we reached the Pumphouse Weirs, which I portaged around to stay safe.
“Once we were past that point and I knew it was basically flat and honest work into the finish I was comfortable I could finish it.
“Running-wise and paddling-wise, I have never been stronger, but in all it took seven swims, which is something that I am really going to have to work on.
“I am really happy that all my training has paid off and I am thrilled with the result, regardless,” she said, adding that in the month that she has been working with coach Andrew Booyens she has improved in all facets of her performance.
Peek, who was consistent throughout all three days of racing, wrapped up second, Bridgitte Hartley was third, while the evergreen Jenna Ward held off the impressive junior Saskia Hockly for fourth.
The full river and gradually building headwind made for an eventful final stage that included a number of notable race milestones.
1. Christie Mackenzie 02:50:20 09:42:16
2. Jordan Peek 02:49:05 09:48:20
3. Bridgitte Hartley 02:48:20 10:08:17
4. Jenna Ward 02:49:26 10:14:25
5. Saskia Hockly 02:44:52 10:26:16
6. Tracey Oellermann 02:53:59 10:28:36
7. Tamika Gandar 03:00:51 10:41:48
8. Hilary Bruss 02:53:24 10:59:43
9. Shannon Parker-Dennison 02:57:23 11:00:59
10. Cara Waud 03:08:58 11:01:07
Photo 1 Caption: Christie Mackenzie raises her paddle in victory to celebrate having defended her MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon title on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
With editing by gsport