The people of Berea paddle Dusi as a team


GLENWOOD resident Louisa Van Staden along with her running partner and Morningside resident Wilma Deyzell are competing in the 2022 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon.

This year marks the 71st year of the iconic paddle race which covers approximately 120km of river between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

“We’ve been paddling partners for many different canoe races for about 10 years,” said Van Staden, who has lived in Glenwood for 40 years.

She has completed six Dusi marathons in the past 15 years while Deyzell has paddled the marathon every year for the past 13 years. The couple started training for this year’s marathon in October last year.

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“We started our training in October 2021 when we did the Fish Canoe Marathon, Craddock. We have continued our training since then, doing most of the pre-Dusi qualifying races, including the Fast Drak in December 2021 and the Drak Challenge in January 2022,” said Van Staden.

She recently added cardio to her fitness routine to ensure she will be able to meet the demands of the upcoming race. “We just added running to the paddling schedule, to deal with the very demanding portages, especially the first two days of the Dusi,” Van Staden said.

The duo train six times a week. “We mainly train by paddling out of Blue Lagoon and running wherever we can. We also use a surf ski and open water swim as part of the training we do from the Durban Undersea Club,” Van Staden said.

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As they prepared for the race, health and safety was a concern. “A really big concern for me is water quality due to high levels of E. coli. The portages are difficult as they are often muddy and slippery with steep inclines,” the paddler said. .

She and Deyzell hope to complete the race in less than 16 hours.

“We will be happy to complete the marathon in 14 to 15 hours over the three days of racing,” she said.

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