Stihl Umkomaas River Marathon – 19 / 20 March 2016

Well done to the Gautenger adrenalin junkies, who took on the 50th running of the Umkomaas River Marathon –a challenge demanding the greatest respect for the participants! Names such as Hella Hella, Number 1, Numbers 5 and 6, Number 8 and Josephines Bridge squirt a rush of excitement to most paddlers who have taken on the river race, even with short easier novice series of races available as an introduction.

130 boats completed the race which consisted of 6 lady boats, 36 K1’s, and 92 doubles. The river level seems to have been enjoyable – with video’s making the rounds prior to the race at 1.7 m, the race day level was in the region of 1.3, and dropped by about a metre of so for day 2.

The race starts with the more manageable section of the river at Josephine’s Bridge, to Riverside on the first day, a distance of some 35 km with compulsory lifejackets and helmets, as the mighty river flows strongly and fast through the gorges and valleys of the Umkomaas river area towards the sea and provides superb challenges for white water rafters, let alone our fibreglass racing boats on arguably the roughest water raced in K1s and K2s anywhere in the world.

On the tougher day which sees the most boat breaks, hence now on the 2nd day so as not to start Day 2 with a depleted field, the race starts at Hella Hella to end at Josephine’s Bridge while the prizegiving as well as camping and most tasty meals are available at the Richmond Country Club.

With Hank McGregor taking the win partnered with Jasper Mocke in 4 hours 13 minutes, the top Gauteng finishers were only 2 minutes behind them bringing Dave Hamilton-Brown and Wayne Jacobs across finish line, (DABS), as top Sub Veterans.

Kirsty Fox and Sarah Robinson (ERK/DABS) were our female top finishers in 2nd place in the ladies race and a time of 5 hours 8 minutes, while our first Gauteng Mixed Doubles finishers took the 3rd podium position – Morgan and father Warren Ziervogel, (JCC) in 5 hours 48! Peter Geach and Janet Bartlet (DABS) finished in 6 hours 20 minutes, as 7th Mixed double.

More podium positions collected by the Gauteng team, included the first Veterans which were Piers Cruickshanks (Dabs) partnered with Mark Perrow who finished in 4th place and a time of 4 hours 22 minutes. Andrew Hall (Dabs) was 3rd Veteran finisher and the 12th finishing double with Paul Hatfield. Marco Magni (Dabs) partnered with Christopher Allan clinched the 3rd Sub Veteran podium in 4h47, and the winning Masters were Malcolm Stothard and Mike Barry (Dabs/ERK) in a time off 4 hours 57 minutes, with Kevin Middleton and John Barrow (DABS) taking the 2nd Master position in time of 5 hour 02 minutes. Iain Hume (Dabs) with Andre van Wyk finished as 2nd Sub Masters in 5 hours 31.

Jason Brown (Dabs) was the first Gauteng K1 finisher in a time of 6 h 43 minutes as 11th K1, with Pieter Engelbrecht (ERK) finishing as 15th K2 in 7h17.

Well done also to the Sub Grand Master finishers……Peter O Connor with Tony Purchase (DABS) as well as Noel Besller with Zach Zacharopoulos…. (VLC)…..however there are some stories to be told at time trial braai night as there are a few names of starters who are missing from the finish results and no doubt those will be stories worth hearing…..


Jennie Dallas


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