Birkett, Hartley make their mark at marathon champs | SASCOC - SASCOC

Birkett, Hartley make their mark at marathon champs

Andy Birkett turned the tables on reigning marathon canoeing world champion Hank McGregor by winning the men’s K1 title in the SA Marathon Champs at Camps Drift on Saturday in a thrilling showdown between the top two ranked marathon paddlers in the world.

The blue ribbon event saw Birkett and McGregor racing much of the latter part of the race with Czech national team paddler Jakub Adam and Cape-based Stu Maclaren, before the closing lap developed into a cliff-hanger sprint between the Euro Steel teammates Birkett and McGregor.

Birkett managed to get the edge over McGregor in an electric atmosphere to power to the finish line and win by two boat lengths, with a dogged Adam taking a close third.

The result ensures that Birkett and McGregor will represent South Africa in the ICF World Marathon Champs at the same venue in a month’s time.


The opposite was true of the women’s race, where Bridgitte Hartley’s single-minded focus on marathon training saw her demolish the women’s field to win by eight minutes, with the Western Cape’s Melanie van Niekerk securing the second berth in the national team.

Former junior K2 world champ Jean van der Westhuysen showed he was managing the transition to Under-23 racing well when he raced a tactically astute race to down the trio of challengers Nick Notten, Kenny Rice and Mark Keeling.

Kyeta Purchase also asserted herself impressively in her women’s’ Under-23 race and secured her place in the national team with runner-up Kerry Segal.


One of the stars of the day was Gauteng-born Alex Masina (above), now training at NCC in Pietermaritzburg, who ruled the juniors boys’ fast-paced K1 race with an iron fist, subduing the strong local challengers in a race that saw emerging Under-16 stars Uli Hart and Hamish Mackenzie driving the front bunch with Stuart Little.

The attention shifts to K2 racing on Sunday when the full programme of races cover aspirant paddlers from Under-8 Guppies to the Great Great Grand Masters vying for national titles and places in the national team, to the World Marathon Champs in September.

Picture of Birkett and Hartley courtesy of Louis Hattingh/Gameplan Media


1 Andy Birkett 2hr 12min 16sec
2 Hank McGregor 2:12:18
3 Jakub Adam 2:12:20
4 Stuart Maclaren 2:12:30
5 Clinton Cook 2:13:51
6 Brandon Van Der Walt 2:18:51
7 Michael Arthur 2:29:01
8 Michael-John Robb 2:29:48

1 Bridgitte Hartley 2:02:28
2 Melanie Van Niekerk 2:10:27
3 Nikki Russell 2:11:06
4 Hayley Nixon 2:20:21
5 Bianca Beavitt 2:20:54

1 Jean Van Der Westhuyzen 1:55:44
2 Nicholas Notten 1:55:49
3 Kenneth Rice 1:57:30
4 Mark Keeling 1:57:38
5 Bryan Leroux 2:03:49

1 Kyeta Purchase 2:00:34
2 Kerry Segal 2:01:09
3 Donna Hutton 2:08:50
4 Morgan Ziervogel 2:09:25
5 Holly Spencer 2:09:29

UNDER-18 and UNDER-16 BOY’S K1
1 Alex Masina 1:44:55 U18
2 Ulvard Hart 1:45:01 U16
3 Stewart Little 1:45:31 U18
4 Hamish Mackenzie 1:45:40 U16
5 David Evans 1:46:00 U16

1 Kwanda Mzolo 1:03:10
2 Finlay Leask 1:03:11
3 Pierre Van Der Westhuyzen 1:05:10
4 Sanele Masango 1:06:46
5 Eugon Williams 1:07:43

1 Christie Mackenzie 1:39:12 U18
2 Caitlin Mackenzie 1:42:10 U16
3 Keegan Kieser 1:43:02 U18
4 Sabina Lawrie 1:43:59 U18
5 Katie Croudace 1:46:05 U18


1 Lizanne Conradie 1:02:47 U14
2 Melonie Croeser 1:10:05 U14
3 Jo-Ane Prinsloo 1:10:23 U14
4 Nicole Abrahams 1:15:29 U14
5 Kamilah Hank 1:16:00 U14

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