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Birkett wins Dusi
- Updated: February 19, 2011
Andy Birkett’s dream race continued on Saturday’s final day of The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon as he managed to keep vastly experienced Ant Stott at bay and eventually out-sprinted the four-time winner to cross the line at Blue Lagoon in Durban in first place by the narrowest of margins the 60-year-old race has ever seen.
Sapa reports that the two shared the lead almost the entire way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban and, with 118 kilometres of tough racing over three energy sapping days not even being enough to separate these two incredible athletes, it all came down to the final few metres before a victor emerged.
“It’s just incredible. Winning in a K1 is so special,” said a hugely satisfied Birkett.
“There’s no one else in the boat, it’s just you. There’s no one there to help motivate you or pick you up when you’re tired, so to have won today after three long days, is just fantastic.
“I don’t quite know where it came from, I’ve never out-sprinted Ant before,” he added.
“Birkett raced all three days perfectly, made no mistakes and all I can say is well done to him,” said an appreciative Stott.
“I had a great day today, all went well over the dam and I had a good run over Burma (Road) but in the end Andy was just that little bit better,” he added.
Stott started the day with a slender one second advantage over Birkett, but soon increased that to a healthy 45 seconds at Tops Needle after he managed to tag onto a wave of a passing boat towards the end of the dam.
A strong performance by Stott leading up to the infamous Burma Road, meant he’d increased his lead even further to two minutes at the take out.
However, the resilient Birkett wasn’t about to give up and he powered up Burma Road portage at an incredible pace to ultimately open up a 45 second lead of his own at the putin.
“In training I’ve put in some really strong runs up there and today was probably just a little off my best time. I tried to really put the hammer down after that but Ant came back at me and caught me quite quickly,” said Birkett.
The two Maritzburg College Old Boys then negotiated the troublesome hyacinth near the Papwa Sewgolum golf course together but it was straight back to business after that.
“We’d been chatting for quite a while, just chilling and Ant eventually turned to me and said for the next 30 minutes we’re enemies until we cross that line,” added Birkett.
Michael Mbanjwa had long forgotten his disappointing first day and looked to continue in the same vein as he’d finished Friday.
“I had a really good day today. I knew at the start the gap was probably too big to catch the front two, so I just had to focus on my own race and try not make any mistakes.
“I still had to go hard because I knew Eric (Zondi) and Lance (Kime) were just behind me,” said Mbanjwa.
“I’d been pulling with Lance for a while and eventually got past him on one of the pathways going up Burma which was a relief for me because my legs were feeling good and he was walking.
“But Michael was too far ahead and I’m just really happy with how the race went for me,” said fourth place finisher Eric Zondi.
Robyn Kime could afford to back off slightly in the women’s race after she opened up a massive lead of 17 minutes over the first two days.
“It was a hard day today. It was all mine to throw away so I just tried to play it safe. I went over Burma and I definitely think organisers should consider banning that next year,” chuckled a tired but happy Kime.
“I’m really chuffed with the win and especially considering it is the 60th anniversary of the race and the Graeme Pope-Ellis memorial,” she added.
“It’s definitely one I’ll cherish at the end of my career.”
The young Maties student finished 20 minutes ahead of Abby Adie and in so doing broke both the U21 Girls stage and the overall record by minutes respectively.
Birkett had a record of his own as he broke the overall record in the U21 category.
Murray Haw fought hard for the junior title and despite a strong performance by Gavin Shuter, it wasn’t enough and Haw cruised to victory.
Murray’s younger sister, Bianca, looked in complete control of the junior girls’ category throughout the three days and she walked away a comfortable winner after crossing the line two seconds ahead of her older sister, Tamika.
Final results in the Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon which finished Saturday:
Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon – 35km
Men, open – 1 Andrew Birkett (UKN, U21) 2:23:34 (new U21 record) 8:06:08, 2 Ant Stott (NAT) 2:23:36, 8:06:09, 3 Michael Mbanjwa (SOW) 2:24:53 8:15:22, 4 Eric Zondi (UMZ) 2:26:43 8:22:22, 5 Hank McGregor (KIN) 2:27:11 8:26:23, 6 Lance Kime (US, U21) 2:30:35 8:26:29, 7 Len Jenkins Jr (NAT) 2:38:07 8:46:44, 8 Piers Cruickshanks (DAB, sub-vet) 2:39:40 8:48:19, 9 Mark Mulder (KIN) 2:37:51 8:53:31, 10 Shaun Griffin (MID) 2:37:50 8:53:32, 11 Kwanda Mhlope (LEM, U21) 2:35:43 8:55:03, 12 Thomas Ngidi (LEM) 2:37:04 8:58:37, 13 Nhlanhla Cele (LEM, U21) 3:27:27 9:03:19, 14 Richard Fly (US) 2:38:21 9:04:14, 15 John Ngcobo (VIC) 2:38:25 9:04:15, 16 Ben Biggs (UKN, U21) 2:37:10 9:06:41, 17 Zonele Nzuza (LEM) 2:37:30 9:06:43, 18 Richard Cele (LEM), 2:37:10 9:06:47, 19 Mark Germiquet (UMZ, sub-vet) 2:37:08 9:06:48, 20 Craig Carter-Brown (CAN) 2:41:06/ 9:07:47.
U21: 1 A Birkett 2:23:34 (new U21 record) 8:06:08, 2 L Kime 2:30:35 8:26:29, 3 K Mhlope 2:35:43 8:55:03, 4 N Cele 3:27:27 9:03:19, 5 B Biggs 2:37:10 9:06:41.
U18: 1 Murray Haw (Pmb Coll) 2:40:39 9:10:59, 2 Gavin Shuter (DAB) 2:43:42 9:17:16, 3 Siseko Ntondini (SOW) 2:49:10 9:33:50.
U16: 1 Bruce Arnott (MIC) 2:57:08 9;55:06, 2 Nqobile Makhanya (THO) 2:57:08 10:17:17, 3 Mxolisi Ntuli (MKH) 3:14:04 11:12:59.
Sub-veterans: 1 P Cruickshanks 2:39:40 8:48:19, 2 Marc Germiquet (UMZ) 2:37:08 9:06:48, 3 Deon Bruss (UMV) 2:36:33 9:10:03.
Veterans: 1 Michael Stewart (ERK) 2:45:43 9:15:91, 2 Wayne Wilson (KIN) 2:41:57 9:24:35, 3 Shane Millward (NAT) 2:59:22 9:42:01.
Sub-masters: 1 Glenn Hilliar (KIN) 2:49:33 9:28:25, 2 Eric Hildebrandt (KIN) 2:49:08 10:09:50, 3 John Barrow (DAB) 3:03:59 10:26:21.
Masters: 1 Rick Whitton (UMZ) 2:55:55 9:50:17, 2 Glen Haw (EPW) 2:58:40 10:15:54, 3 Paul Moxley (PEN) 10:24:53.
Women, open – 1 Robyn Kime (US, U21) 2:55:29 (new U21 record) 9:37:33, 2 Abby Adie (NAT) 2:58:42 9:58:14, 3 Hilary Pitchford (NAT) 3:02:23 10:19:37, 4 Alex Adie (RHO) 3:09:19 10:36:20, 5 Donna Winter (KIN) 3:13:17 10:46:54, 6 Bianca Haw (EPW, U16) 3:15:01 11:07:59, 7 Tamika Haw (US, U21) 3:15:03 11:08:00, 8 Brittany Petersen (EPW, U18) 3:19:21 11:19:54.
U21: 1 R Kime 2:55:29 (new U21 record) 9:37:33, 2 T Haw 3:15:03 11:08:00.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿U18: 1 B Petersen 3:19:21 11:19:54.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿U16: 1 B Haw 3:15:01 11:07:59