Olympian Rubenstein to tackle the Dusi again | SASCOC - SASCOC

Olympian Rubenstein to tackle the Dusi again

Former Olympic sprinter Shaun Rubenstein set tongues wagging when he showed up for the weekend’s race and confirmed that he will be racing The Unlimited Dusi next month.

The 29-year old Capetonian finished third in his last K1 Dusi, and sixth with partner Steve Farrell in last year’s K2 race.

Rubenstein showed all his trademark tenacity and determination on the weekend’s race from Campbell’s Farm to Dusi bridge, which included the tough portages up Guinea Fowl and Cabbage Tree, and showed the high-powered field that he will be force to be reckoned with on the three day epic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Rubenstein admitted that he hadn’t been planning to race, but had been drawn back into it by his long history with the event. “I am training for the Absa Cape Epic [cycle race] so I am pretty fit, but I have done very little running with the boat,” said Rubenstein. “I am going to race to have fun, but I am seriously aiming for a top 10 finish.

“I found out on the weekend that my running will be my weak point, and I also found out that there are whole lot of ‘lighties’ who are paddling at a whole new level. I raced with Lance Kime for part of the race, and he was so professional about everything he did.”

Rubenstein has a deep bond with the race, having been mentored by the legendary Graeme Pope-Ellis when he was a schoolboy. The Pope-Ellis family took him under their wing and helped him to a standout victory in the junior category.

“I have always loved the Dusi, and my time with Graeme Pope-Ellis taught me a deep love for the valley and the race. I found myself being pulled back to it once again,” said Rubenstein.

“Even though my canoeing career took me on a different path (as an Olympic sprinter), I have never lost my love for the valley and the vibe of the race.”

He has no illusions about the intensity of the competition with one of the most powerful fields in decades assembling for the race. “Just getting into the top 10 is going to be no joke,” said Rubenstein, who will be racing his seventh Dusi. “I think the guys like Andy Birkett, Hank McGregor and Bungee (Thulani Mbanjwa) will be safe, but the race for the top 10 will be hectic. Up against these guys I feel like a weekend warrior!”

Rubenstein raced onto the podium in 2009 when he had just returned from the Beijing Olympics, using his formidable sprint training base and knowledge of the valley to edge out several highly fancied paddlers and earn a place on the podium behind Ant Stott and Thulani Mbanjwa.

A certain Andy Birkett finished fifth that year, eight minutes behind Rubenstein.

The Unlimited Dusi starts on 14 February at Camps Drift, and ends at Blue Lagoon in Durban 16 February.