Andy and Nikki Birkett win the Berg River Canoe Marathon

  • Canoeing couple Andy and Nikki Birkett made it a 60th canoe marathon on the Berg River when they won their respective races.
  • They became the first couple to win the race.
  • They did it through fluctuating and contrasting fortunes.

Andy Birkett and his wife Nikki turned the 60th Berg River Canoe Marathon into a family affair with their victories in the respective races on Sunday.

The victories made the Birketts the first husband and wife paddlers to win the Berg title.

Andy Birkett, who won in an overall time of 17.27.24, took a two-minute lead in stage two when second-placed Hank McGregor made a mistake in a boulder tree.

He managed to retain that advantage for the remainder of the race, despite McGregor continually trying to get back into the contest.

McGregor took the stage honors, bringing his tally of stage wins to three, but tenacious Birkett was right on his wave as they rushed to Velddrif to claim a second title from Berg to accompany his victory. from 2014.

The women’s race was shrouded in drama when race leader Nikki Birkett (20.40.54) inexplicably followed a group of paddlers who doubled after the portage at Oordraplek, adding six kilometers to her stage.

She was passed by Jordan Peek, second, and Bianca Beavitt, third, who made the exact same mistake but managed to turn around once they realized their mistake.

This upended the race standings, but once Birkett accepted her mistake, she charged into the tide, oncoming waves and high winds and finished with her winning lead intact.

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