Feedback from K1 SA Marathon Champs


Cape Robins flitting about the grounds were a strong indication that winter had arrived in Gauteng, on the weekend of the SA Canoe Marathon Championships, where the cold front brought icy air and numb toes in the early morning!  without a coastal wind to fuel the cold air, the hot Highveld sun soon warmed the region as well as the paddlers – many of whom wore only short sleeves or just vests!  The 2 hour plus workout would have steamed up their bodies despite the splash of chilled water from time to time and the day was a glorious winter day provided one stayed in the sun and out of the shade1
With a strong field of nearly 250 competitors attracted by good prize monies assisted by the support received from the City of Ekurhuleni, as well as Birchwood Hotels who provided special rates for accommodation while Jeep (Sandown Motors) assisted with provision of shuttles so the top paddlers of South Africa as well as international visitors had every reason to participate!
The red hot racers included former and current world marathon and surfski champions Hank McGregor as well as Grant and Brandon van der Walt, as well as multiple Dusi winners  Andy Birkett and Abbey Adie, and also Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley, a crew of Australians and the cream of South African paddlers!
The main race consisted of 6 laps around Homestead Dam, with 5 portages where a smooth transition for take out and put in as well as strong running ability can enable a paddler to gain an advantage on a less efficient paddler.  Shorter distances and less portages were the standard for ladies, SGM and older as well as younger under 14 paddlers and guppies had no portages.
The Gauteng locals were hard put to achieve top positions and podiums in various age categories! the Singles (K1) race took pace on Saturday  7 June, and included paddlers from the Gauteng school league, from ages 7 upwards, while the doubles partnerships (K2) took place on Sunday 8 June..
The top Gautenger of the weekend time wise was Dave Hamilton-Brown (Dabs) in the K1 and K2 event competing in the Veteran category, finishing in 1:46 as 2ndVet on Saturday, with Graeme Solomon (WP)only ONE second ahead of him – an exciting close race!  Wayne Wilson (KZN) was 3rd and Michael Stewart, reigning champion of Benoni’s local canoe club, Erkurhuleni Kayak Club who hosted the interprovincial event with sponsorship from the local Deparment of Sports / council as well as Jeep, Kayak Racing, was nevertheless the top East Rand achiever, with a 4th place in the Veteran Men’s age category (40+ years) finishing the gruelling 22.5kms in a time of 1 hour 50 minutes. 
Shaun Maphanga (Sub Veteran – FLO)was the top West Gauteng achiever finishing in 1:51, with Kobus Filmalter 2nd (WAT) in 1:54 and Marco Magni 3rd(DAB) in 1:59.
Sub Master Men boasted all Gautengers on the podiums led by Gustav Smook (LOW) in 1:50 with Gustav Radloff one second later (CEN) and Bradley Fisher 3rd in 1:51.
The Senior men failed to achieve a podium position against the strong field where Hank McGregor, Jasper Mocke, Andy Birkett, Grant vd Walt, Ben Biggs and Tulani Mbanjwa took up the first 6 places finishing in 2:17 through to 2:25, and it was Calvin Mokoto (C1 ERK) finishing in 2 hours 33 who led the Gauteng Charge followed by Etienne Rawlinson who finished 8th (Dabs) in 2:38.
Siseko Ntondini was top Gauteng finisher in the Men under 23 in 7th place, 2 hours 5 minutes, with Brandon van der Walt, Stuart Maclaren, Ivan Kruger, Clinton Cook, Craig Flanagain and Don Wewege ahead of him, and Nicholas Weeks (ERK) was the 2nd Gauteng finisher in 2:11, followed by Gabriel van Wyk (ACD) 2;12, and Martin van den Bergh 30 seconds later.
The Gauteng Top lady of the day was Anna Clifford Arwidi (Dabs) first Sub Master winner in 1:48:59, while Mariette Zandbergh clinched the 2nd podium position in the Sub Vet Women in 2 hours, with Debbie Germiquet finishing 1st in 1:48:40.
In the U18 junior race, Johan Ubbink, Siyabonga Tyiki , Simnikiwe Ntondini and Spoon Mkhuzangwe  (CEN/SOW/SOW/VLC) brought up the 5th, to 8th finish positions  while in the Under 16 race Alex Masina (JCC) was 5th.
Nicole Smith (Dabs) finished almost tied 2nd with first place winner Donna Hutton with only split seconds to separate them, and in the under 14 competition, Wian Bornman (LIK) was the first Gauteng finisher in 6th place.
Caroline van der Linde (LIK) was as usual dependably the first girl finisher in Under 14 and there were a number of podium positions in the younger age categories which we hope bodes well for the future of canoeing in Gauteng!
Under 12 boys Jaydon Hunt was the first Gauteng finisher (FLO) in 3rd place, while the Likkewaan girls took the first two positions in that age group – Megan Oelofse and Abigail Bezuidenhout.
Matthew van der Merwe (FLO) was the first Gauteng boy in Under 10 with a silver medal, and Kamilah Hank (FLO) won the silver in the girls race in that age group, with Kara Du Preez (CEN) collecting Bronze!
It was actually impressive that the little Under 8’s even took to the water on such a choppy chilly day and Ameerah Hank (FLO) was the only Under 8 paddler going home happily with gold, while Linton Oelofse and Theo Dreyer (Lik and Dabs) won Gold and Silver as the only two competitors!
The race was very well organised with excellent support including meals, hot and cold drinks, giveaway waterproof jackets and Specialized Video Services provided Supersport TV coverage