Mbanjwa's juggling game ahead of 2013 Dusi Marathon | SASCOC - SASCOC

Mbanjwa’s juggling game ahead of 2013 Dusi Marathon

Valley of a Thousand Hills hero and The Unlimited Dusi icon Thulani Mbanjwa is playing down his chances of claiming the K1 title of next year’s three-day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban despite several fellow top contenders considering him very much a threat in 2013.

Mbanjwa, having made history in 2008 when he became the first black paddler to win the event after he and K2 partner Dusi Duke Martin Dreyer crossed the finish line first, has never won the race individually and would dearly love to race to victory in mid-February next year.

However, if the 27-year-old’s dream is to become reality in a couple of months’ time, he will need to perfect a difficult balancing act over the next couple of weeks as he looks to manage both his paddling and newly formed business interests at the same time.

“There’s no doubt about it, I would definitely love to win the K1 Dusi title and my training is going well at the moment,” said Mbanjwa. “I’m sure I’ll be competitive next year but I’m just not sure I’ll be able to spend as much time training as is necessary to win.

“Guys like Andy (Birkett), Hank (McGregor) and Len (Jenkins) are in top form at the moment and going really well so to beat them your training has to be perfect.”

“I’ve just started a satellite installation business with (former Olympic sprint paddler) Shaun Rubenstein and we’ve just got a really big contract in the valley which I can’t afford to turn down so it’s difficult to train as much as I need to and get everything done for work as well,” said Mbanjwa.

The former winner and regular podium finisher still has plenty fellow title hopefuls worried though and, regardless of whether he does in fact go into the clash slightly under prepared or not, will still be seen as a one of a handful of possible victors.

Having grown up in the valley Mbanjwa has a unique understanding of the terrain and his superior knowledge and remarkable running ability makes him a dangerous competitor at all times.

Mbanjwa is also spending a lot of time with Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy, renowned for producing notably strong running and commendable paddling talent, hence he is being pushed hard in training, particularly on the trails.

“I’d say I’m probably a little ahead of the guys when it comes to paddling but guys like Kwanda (Mhlope) and Lucas (Mthalane) are very strong runners so I’m having to work really hard to keep up with them,” said Mbanjwa.

“Next year is definitely a big opportunity so hopefully I can just keep pushing when I do train and can do well in the Dusi but we’ll just have to see how things go because I’ve obviously also got one or two other priorities now as well.”

“A win would be fantastic but I’ll be happy if I can get a top five in next year’s Dusi given my new circumstances,” he added.

The Unlimited Dusi starts in Pietermaritzburg on 14 February and ends in Durban on 16 February