Nikki Birkett, won the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon women’s title in a race shrouded in high drama on Sunday, 8 August 2021.
The canoe specialist claimed the women’s race despite mistakenly following a group of paddlers down a wrong route, having to double back after the portage at Oordraplek, adding six kilometers to her stage.
She was passed by second-placed Jordan Peek and third-placed Bianca Beavitt, who then made exactly the same mistake, but managed to turn back once they realised their error.
That threw the race standings into disarray, and once Birkett had come to terms with her mistake, she charged into the tide, oncoming waves and gale force winds, and managed to finish with her race-winning lead intact.
In the end her superior strength in the tough conditions came to the fore and she came into the finish of the Eigevis final stage relieved, to be welcomed by her elated husband.
“It was awful and I got very despondent,” said Birkett. “Once I had some more juice and some food, I just put the hammer down.
“I didn’t actually know where the other two women were, and it was quite confusing. I am so relieved it worked out, because we have worked so hard for this,” she concluded.
Leading Results at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon:
1.Nikki Birkett 5:36:21 20:40:54
2.Jordan Peek 5:45:05 20:56:38
3.Bianca Beavitt 5:41:05 21:23:45
4.Tracey Oellerman 5:57:57 21:43:57
5.Robyn Henderson 5:48:24 22:09:46
Photo 1 Caption: Nikki Birkett has retained her overall lead to win the women’s race, at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon. Photo: John Hishin/Gameplan Media
With editing by gsport