Stage Set for Feisty 50 Miler

After some time in the Western Cape wilderness Robyn Kime will look to kick start her KZN river racing season at this weekend's Best 4 Healthcare 50 Miler Canoe Marathon. Jetline Action Photo/ Gameplan Media

With storm clouds gathering over KwaZulu-Natal the mood ahead of the Best 4 Healthcare 50 Miler Canoe Marathon – the biggest precursor to The Unlimited Dusi – is tense and equally stormy.

The big field has been guaranteed full rivers for the two day race on the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers thanks to the ongoing rainfall in the region and good water releases from Henley and Inanda Dams. But, with heavy rainfall forecast for the weekend, conditions could well be turned on their head and the paddlers might have flooded rivers to contend with.

The race has attracted every serious contender for the Dusi title in February, all eager to take full advantage of racing on full rivers, a luxury they are normally deprived of the months leading up to the Dusi.

: Top title contender Abby Adie will be out to build on her impressive victory in the Ozzie Gladwin when she takes part in this weekend's Best 4 Healthcare 50 Miler Canoe Marathon. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan MediaWith the race offering equal prize money to the winning man and woman, the race has attracted the cream of the female river racers.

Abby Adie is in top form after her fifth back-to-back win in The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin, where she showed a clean pair of paddle blades to Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley. Adie won the race last year with her twin sister Alex, and the Team Best 4 Kayak Centre star looks poised for her best summer season yet.

She will square up to the defending K1 champ, Dusi pacesetter and teammate Robyn Kime, who has been absent from the local racing scene while she concentrates on her Engineering Masters studies in Stellenbosch, and has also been dabbling in some adventure racing.

Kime was runner up in the recent Hansa Fish Rive Canoe Marathon, ten days after she sensationally won the Under 23 silver medal at the World Marathon Championships in Rome, and showed in that outing that she is a rock solid river paddler.

The same can also be said of Hilary Pitchford, who will revel in the big water conditions that may well follow the expected heavy rainfall. She is the best rough water female paddler in the country and the Team Racefood Matelec stalwart is looking to up her game in the build-up to the new year.

The three will however be pressurized throughout by the band of juniors that has been snapping at their heels all season, including the class of Bianca Haw, Brittany Petersen and youngster Jordan Peek.

The organisers have extended the first stage by 1,8 kilometres to add more racing to the 30km first day, which starts just above Mission Rapid on the uMsundusi River, and ends close to the Nqumeni Hill takeout in the middle uMngeni River.

The second stage mimics the final stage of The Unlimited Dusi, from Msinsi Resort on Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon in Durban, a distance of 36 kilometres. More information and entry forms can be found at www.50miler.co.za

 

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