2012 London Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley is looking forward to taking the next step in her 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon preparations when she tackles the Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon presented by Parklane Superspar on Sunday 27 November.
The bubbly blonde canoe sprint sensation recently made a return to the South African river marathon scene and is eager to take full advantage of any opportunity presented to her to reacquaint herself with the intricacies of river racing.
“At this stage I’m certainly not missing my sprint boat and racing on the river again has been an exciting new challenge for me, even if a little daunting too,” explains Hartley.
“I’d like to give next year’s Dusi a full go and so all of these smaller, one day races like the recent Umpetha Challenge and the upcoming Ozzie Gladwin all help me build up my confidence slowly but surely,” she adds.
Shortly after finishing second at the 2016 Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in the Eastern Cape, Euro Steel’s Hartley charged to an early-season victory at the recent Umpetha Challenge despite her limited experience of running with a boat on her shoulder and the race’s gruelling 3.5km portage to finish.
As she continues to build towards next year’s Dusi, the 33 year-old Pietermaritzburg resident now hopes to continue her good run of form at the upper uMngeni River clash at the end of the month.
“Fish isn’t all that foreign to me having done a few K2 Fish recently and although I had a few swims there this year, I learnt a lot and it was good for my confidence.
“The Umpetha Challenge is over the tamer section of Dusi’s first day but it is not easy running with the boat so that portage up to the finish line was another good opportunity for me.
“I did last year’s Ozzie Gladwin in a K2 with Donna Tutton and I’m excited to compete again this year. It is also another really good training opportunity for me, especially with the drought and subsequent water levels limiting our ability to trip the river.
“Hopefully I can get a good start on Albert Falls Dam, run the portage around the dam wall hard and then just take the rapids as they come, especially depending on what the water level is like on the day.”
Hartley also confirms that the Ozzie Gladwin will play a significant role in her preparations for Sunday 4 December’s 50 Miler Canoe Marathon – her first major test of the current KZN river marathon season.
The 2016 Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon takes place from Albert Falls Dam to Thornvale Farm on Sunday 27 November.