I think that would e awesome to have the winners crossing the line be viewed by the bulk of the paticipants in the race. sponsors would also benefit by the added atmosphere.
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New Dusi plans will revitalise the race
- Updated: December 18, 2012
Organisers of the country’s most famous river marathon, The Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon, are confident the new-fangled concept of a rearranged start procedure on the final day of the three day spectacle will come to fruition this summer edition and end the 62nd edition of the three day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in a fitting climax.
The core of the plan, which has set the South African paddling community abuzz since it was first mooted, is to allow the majority of participants to finish the final stage, and then start the title contenders later in the morning to allow the 2013 winner to reach Blue Lagoon to a hero’s welcome.
“We’re very happy with how things have unfolded in recent months and feel things are very much on track for this new concept to be implemented in 2013’s The Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon,” said Brett Austen-Smith, General Manager of Natal Canoe Club, the host organisation of the KZN based event. “The idea has grown from a mere concept to something that is very real and a structure that the paddlers should start viewing as very likely to happen next year,” he added.
As one of the major events on KZN’s sporting calendar one would expect the top performers of this iconic race to be greeted by streams of excited supporters lining the banks of Durban’s Blue Lagoon, the annual venue of Saturday’s third and final day.
Instead though, due to the remarkably short time these world class athletes take to reach the finish, most of the local community hasn’t even stirred and their fellow competitors are only setting off from the start line at Inanda Dam and hence have had to become accustomed to the relatively dull atmosphere as they complete their impressive feats.
“The reasoning behind the change is to try bring the finish of the Dusi into the public eye far more and if this does happen, as it looks very likely to at the moment, then everyone will benefit immensely,” said Austen-Smith.
“The only major issue left us to overcome is to try come to an arrangement which will see Umgeni Water give us an additional three hours of a water release so that water levels for the top guys, who will start at 11am, are very similar to the one’s the guys who started at 5.30am in B batch had.”
“If we’re able to sort this all out and this new concept takes place then not only will the paddlers benefit but so too the race, our sponsors and the entire sport of canoeing too as there will be a far greater interest in not only the Dusi itself but paddling as a whole because of this,” he added.
Having regularly finished in the top five of the three day paddling spectacle from Pietermaritzburg to Durban Team Best 4 Kayak Centre’s captain, Hank McGregor, knows all too well the somewhat bitter sweet emotion associated with crossing the line in front of a handful of supporters.
McGregor has been one of the particularly vocal elite paddling voices supporting the event organisers’ push to revolutionise the format of the race’s final day. “I think it will be absolutely fantastic for everyone concerned if the rearranged start procedure does happen at next year’s The Unlimited Dusi,” said McGregor.
“It will be a huge benefit not only for us guys at the top who will be able to cross the line with hundreds, maybe even thousands of supporters lining the banks, but the rest of the field I’m sure would also really like to be able to watch the elapsed time guys battle it out to the finish line, especially if it’s been as tight as it has in some recent years. The paddlers, the local communities and the whole media will all be able to be a part of the hype which can only be a good thing!” he added.
A final decision on the matter will be made closer to the race’s start date, 14 February 2013.
The Unlimited Dusi starts in Pietermaritzburg and ends in Durban on 16 February 2013.