Some of the world’s best marathon paddlers will gather in the shadow of the Langeberg Mountains this weekend for the two-day Breede River Canoe Marathon.
The two-day race will decide Western Cape K2 River titles for 2022 and provide some of the elite stars with a final dress rehearsal before the World Marathon Championships at the end of the month.
The low river makes the race difficult
After a wet start to the end of winter which hosts the K2 paddling season on the Breede River, the rains have stopped and the river level has steadily dropped, forcing the host club to make some changes to the first stage, and adding on a sample of the kind of races expected at the ICF Marathon World Championships in Ponte de Lima in Portugal in a few weeks.
“The new start at the scenic Viljoensdrift wine estate allows the race to launch onto the flat water barred by the sliding weir and take marathon paddling and portage laps that will provide a friendly start to the race, before heading downstream for the remainder of stage one to Riggton Farm in Bonnievale,” read a statement by Gameplan media.
The second stage of the race from Riggton Farm to Kam’Bati Resort remains unchanged.
Top local K2 crews will be on the starting line, including last pre-Breede race winners Kenny Rice and Uli Hart, former winner Greg Louw and Matt Fenn, powerhouse crew Graeme Solomon and Anders Hart , Murray Starr and Dan Jacobs and Heinrich Schloms and Ernest van Riet, with Clint Cook and Tom Lovemore adding an ominous threat.
Key Players of the Breede River Canoe Marathon
All will be keen to keep in touch with the 2017 World Championships crew of Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké, who shamelessly entered the race to polish their run ahead of the K2 World Championships in Portugal.
In what could end up being a notable slice of Breede’s story, McGregor’s wife Pippa also entered with her K2 world champion partner Jenna Nisbet and a victory in the women’s division could see the rare feat of a husband and wife victory Breede.
McGregor and Nisbet won’t have it all in their own way as a strong group of female K2 crews have come together for the event, including Candice Murray and last year’s winner Kira Bester, winner of Dusi Jordy Peek with partner Christy Shrimpton, and the junior team of Neriyah Dill and Holly Smith who became one of the female frontrunners during this Breede season.
While the powerful women’s race potentially steals the show, there’s also an intriguing race for the mixed doubles podium, as some of the country’s top female paddlers team up with male partners for the two-day challenge on the technical Breede River. .
New Euro Steel team signing Melanie van Niekerk will partner Scheepers Schoeman, Bianca Beavitt has partner Crispin Thompson lined up for the race, and strong Maties paddler Tracey Oellerman who finished second in the women’s race K2 last year, co-opted Dom Leslie for a shot at the mixed team podium.
The weekend was dedicated to the memory of the famous paddler Giel van Deventer, who died on August 20 on the Breede River. Each paddler will receive a special cap commemorating the life of Berg’s marathon icon, and the race medal each finisher will receive will also commemorate the impact he has had on the sport.
The host club Milnerton Canoe Club will also sponsor each participant a bottle of wine to take home and enjoy in memory of Van Deventer.