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Another Fish for Jenkin

Len Jenkins shattered his own race record en route to winning the 27th edition of the Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon in Cradock on Saturday, as both the men’s ands women’s races ended in grandstand finishes.

Sapa reports that the top three men all finished inside the old race record, which Jenkins lowered by more than six minutes to win in 4:51:16, while German sprint world champion Max Hoff stormed past Hank McGregor to claim second place, shattering the stage record on the second and final day.

“This win is particularly special because it was achieved against a world champion,” said Jenkins, paying tribute to 1 000m gold medallist Hoff, who finished almost five minutes behind the winner. “Max is an incredible athlete. Nobody really grasps that he won the world title by several boatlengths, not just a few centimetres.”

McGregor heaped praise on Jenkins, describing him as a “machine”, and also gave full credit to Hoff for his superhuman charge on the final stage. “Its hard work trying to catch a world champ, but at least I managed to get ahead of him going into Cradock weir,” McGregor said.

Under-23 world marathon champion Grant van der Walt finished fourth, keeping fired up Czech wildwater ace Robert Knebel at bay in fifth place.

The women’s race came to a head with the title contenders locked together as they approached Cradock weir, six kilometres from the finish. Pre-race favourite Michle Eray surged from third to first in a gutsy charge that left her holding all the cards going into Cradock weir.

However, she was upended in the churning water at the foot of the weir and had to be pulled to safety by the lifesavers. Her chances of a speedy recovery were hampered by her kayak getting sucked into the backwash at the foot of the weir.

“I screamed at the lifesavers to leave me and get my boat rather,” Eray said. “But by the time they had pulled me out, my boat was well and truly stuck in the suckback.”

Overnight leader Robyn Kime was next and calmly shot Cradock weir and raced away to claim the women’s title in 5:38:22.

Katerina Vacikova of the Czech Republic also mastered the drop at the iconic big weir, racing home to claim the silver medal in 5:39:48, while Eray had to be content with the last place on the podium.

“Someone else’s misfortune became my good fortune,” said Kime after crossing the line to claim the win, and with it the South African national K1 river title. “I was very nervous of Cradock weir and when I saw that Michele had swum at Cradock weir, I realised that this was my race to lose.”

Vacikova was delighted with her second place and tipped Kime for future stardom. “Robyn will soon be a wild water champion. If she decides to race in the K2 race next year with Michle or Abie (Adie) next year then Micha (Mruskova) and I are in big trouble to try and defend our title.”

The junior men’s title went to world junior marathon champion Brandon van der Walt, in 13th overall, while the junior women’s title was sealed by Cradock local Hanr Maree in a record breaking time that shaved 30 seconds off Kime’s 2007 mark.


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