The past weekend saw a slew of major events taking place all round the country with FinishTime returning to action alongside some of the country’s top sportsmen and women in a variety of sporting codes.
Starting the action-packed weekend was a new event for FinishTime, the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in KZN, while our timekeepers were also ensuring competitors at the SA Triathlon Championships in the Free State and SA National Open Water Swimming Championships at Jeffreys Bay were receiving their times as they crossed the line. And then just to prove we were out of a hard lockdown, there was the Irene RaceWalking Challenge and the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge taking place over the weekend for good measure.
The Dusi was something of a stroll on the river banks for Andy Birkett in the men’s race as he set a new record by winning the three-day event through the Mgeni and Mzunduzi valleys for the eighth consecutive time. He wrapped up his 11th title with a dominant 21-minute victory over 11-time World Champion Hank McGregor.
The women’s race should also have been a lopsided win for Christie Mackenzie, but she made her title defence a little more interesting by falling out and swimming no less than seven times over the three days. Luckily the mistakes did not prove too costly and, while Jordan Peek had a glimpse of victory at times, the winning margin was still eight minutes.
Almost as remarkable as Birkett and Mackenzie’s performance was that of well-known canoeing personality Hugh Raw. The grand master from Pietermaritzburg completed his tenth finish of the event, but that is made even more remarkable because the popular former kayak manufacturer turned 80 recently and the octogenarian is the oldest ever finisher of the event.
As a second aside, the value of a genuine development programme was evident in the Dusi results with nine of the top 20 paddlers coming from so-called development backgrounds. The vision that saw canoeing put a development programme in place in the late 1990s, well before it was fashionable, has reaped rewards. Many of the paddlers from disadvantaged backgrounds join the sport after watching the Dusi competitors race along the rivers near their homes.
The South African Triathlon Championships were a triumph for Rio 2016 bronze medallist Henri Schoeman, who raced home to a 35-second win over Jamie Riddle in the elite event in Maselspoort in the Free State. The win, with the fastest swim and run times, sets Schoeman up nicely for the Tokyo Olympics and his quest for a shinier medal later this year.
The women’s event was won by Briton Emma Pallant with Shanae Williams taking second spot.
Michael McGlynn (1:54:49.83) and Michelle Webber (2:06:55.77) both defended their 10km titles in the respective men and women categories on the opening day of the South African National Open Water Swimming Championships in Jeffreys Bay. Henre Louw and Stephanie Houtman were second in each event respectively.
Catherine van Rensburg and Connor Albertyn won the 7.5km on the second day while Leigh McMorran and Nathan Hughes claimed the 5km titles on final day.
Christie Mackenzie (left) celebrates her Dusi victory despite seven swims, and (right) Khumbulani Nzimande and Msawenkosi Mtolo sprint for fourth position after swapping positions constantly over the three days.
Photos: Ant Grote / Gameplan Media.