The Dusi is not for sissies

The Dusi takes place every year in KwaZulu-Natal between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Paddlers come from all over the world to compete in the one-of-a-kind FNB Dusi canoe marathon which takes place from 16 to 18 February.

Dabulamanzi canoe club general manager and coach, Jason Brown, said about 100 paddlers would take part. He said the Dusi, one of the premier canoeing events on the calendar, is the most trying. “The three-day adventure covers about 120km and includes running with your boat.”

He said you have a predetermined start and stop each day, and a paddler has to show a great amount of dedication to compete. “You also need to be physically conditioned to compete and attain a certain level of skill in paddling.”

It is a gruelling marathon and paddlers are tested mentally and physically as, in some cases, they have to grapple with unforeseen events, such as their canoes possibly snapping in half. “They would either have to fix it using sticks and tape or, if it is damaged beyond repair, choose to run the leg,” said Brown.

The club’s Piers and Shelley Cruickshanks, who are competing in the mixed doubles, agreed that the marathon is challenging. Piers has completed 17 Dusis and received 10 gold medals, while Shelley has done two. They started training about four months ago as it is crucial to prepare for the tough conditions.

Shelley said the race is one of the most exciting, while Piers said, “My son is five years old right now, and I plan on doing the Dusi with him in 15 years time.”

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