GCU K2 River Championships: JCC Vaal River Marathon – 1 and 2 November 2014


Photos  HERE

The annual Gauteng Canoe Union K2 (Doubles) River Championship race, hosted by the Johannesburg Canoe Club,  took place on the weekend 1 and 2 November, from the Vaal dam wall near Deneysville, 32km on Day 1 to finish in Three Rivers, a long shallow slog with a number of tired paddlers arriving at the finish.  Day 2 started below the Barrage and with a water release both days were more pleasant than normal paddling on the Vaal river , and some 30km later paddlers straggled in to the finish at the Smiling Thru’ Holiday Resort upriver from Parys.

With 8km of enjoyable and challenging rapids at the start of the race and plenty of flat water afterwards, making up good resistance training, paddlers build up their stamina and endurance as they prepare for the major river race of the year, the 120 km Dusi, in February.

Vischgat rapid, at the Groenpunt Correctional Centre, is always an interesting spectator point if your vehicle is a 4×4 with big wheels and wide clearance, as there is always some carnage, swimmers, broken boats, rescue work and recoveries to cheer for.  While there were 64 boats, mostly doubles at this K2 championships race, that started day 1, only 54 finished the two days with some withdrawing after only one day, satisfied with their training session, but not willing to sacrifice their entire weekend to training!  While there were a couple of withdrawals due to boat damage at the treacherous rapid, or on Benoude Boude during Day2.

The winners were the visiting Natal teams with Thulani Mbanjwa,  (Umz/Lem) – iconic history making 2008 first black paddler to cross the finish line of the Dusi, with his partner and mentor Martin Dreyer, partnered with Sibonelo Khwela in a time of 4:40, while Under 23 Sowetans Siseko Ntondini and Thando Ngamlana had to settle for second place less than half a minute later as the first Under 23 team.  Mhlonishwa Hlongwane and Banesti Nkohoesa (THO/UMZ) KZN paddlers were 3rd  5 seconds later, and the first Under 18 partnership – Mpilo Zondi and Siyanda Gwamanda (Lem) finishing in 4:57 were 5th, after 4th placers, Mmeli Cele and Nkosikayise Cele (LEM/DIH) in 4:56.

Shaun Maphanga and Serge van Hee (FLCC) snatched the Veteran win, in 6th place overall and a time of 5 hours over the +- 68kms.  Andrew Hall and Barry Painting (Dabs) finished as 12th K2 and first Veterans in 5:08, and the top finishing K1, Tom Ngobo (SOW) was 13th , 2 minutes later.

As always its an honour for us to celebrate ladies at our river races, and none more special than Laura O’Donaghue with Hilary Bruss from NAT/KZN who finished  as 16th K2 in 5:18, followed by the first Mixed Double,  our local Morgan Ziervogel and Alex Masina from JCC, in 5:19. Peninsula paddlers Rob hart and Sandra Eardley were the first Sub Master finishers in 5:31, and the 2nd ladies team were 24th K2 finishing in 5:47, bringing in Debbie Germiquet and Angela Scruby (UMZ).

Moving on the old ballies, Mike Howard never ceases to amaze, 27th K2 in 5:56 with the power in the boat coming from Graham Holm (JCC/DABS).  Franz Lottering (ERK) was first finishing Master while Tony Phelp and Andre van der Merwe (JCC) finished as first Grand Masters , 31st K2, and a time of 6:28.

The only K3 in the race was Bertie Baard, Michael Mann and Janine Broli (FLO/FLO/VLC) in a time of 6:40.

And so ends another infamous Vaal River Marathon – thank you to JCC for organising the race and the opportunity for paddlers to get some serious resistance training and while all moaned and groaned about their aches and pains, they smiled while doing it and will be back next year, stronger and fitter, as muscle memory develops!

Jennie Dallas