The 2017 Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon, presented by Parklane Super Spar, is always a widely anticipated early season hit-out, and with a new route in 2017 it lines up to be an exciting showdown on Sunday, 26 November.
Moving from it’s usual route on the uMngeni River to the uMsundusi River from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall, paddlers will have the luxury of some good water levels due to the release from Henley Dam.
This good water level combined with crucial FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon seeding points means that the Ozzie Gladwin is always a good gauge as to how many of the top Dusi crews are shaping up going into the season.
The field for this weekends showdown will be a strong one despite a number of river racing’s top names not on the start line, however it is going to be difficult to look past one crew when eyeing out potential winners.
Euro Steel/Red Bull’s Sbonelo Khwela is a master on this specific route, the route of the Umpetha Challenge, and he is teaming up with accomplished river paddler and Euro Steel team mate Siseko Ntondini for the 20km race.
Despite the absence of some of the leading names in river racing, there will be a number of crews that will be out to stop the Khwela/Ntondini combination this weekend with one in particular catching the eye.
Having performed brilliantly at the recent ICF Masters World Cup in Pietermaritzburg where he won gold in both the K1 and K2, Ant Stott will be pairing up with Clinton Cook for a shot at the title.
Stott’s pedigree on the uMsundusi River is admirable and Cook has been at the sharp end of many river fields, suggesting that their combination could be a strong one.
There will be a number of crews that will be chasing hard for a shot at the title with 2016 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon runner-up Banetse Nkhoesa teaming up with impressive youngster Alex Masina.
Despite Masina suffering from a knee injury the pair should still be a strong podium threat.
The surprise packages will come from the junior age groups and ICF Canoe Marathon Junior K2 silver medallists Hamish Mackenzie and David Evans stand out as podium contenders along with the pair of Stewart Little and Khumbulani Nzimande.
The ladies race definitely has an age group feel to it with the juniors and Under 23’s the ones that look most likely to feature at the narrow end of the field.
2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon runner-up Christie Mackenzie is partnering up with Kerry Segal for the race and the pair will more than likely go into the race as favourites.
Pushing them will be the Canoe Marathon World Championship K2 pair of Caitlin Mackenzie and Amy Peckett.
The duo showed tremendous courage during the World Champs to continue on after a swim at the start and as a combination are well prepared.
Another ladies duo that will be looking to perform well and will be making the trip back for the University holidays is the Peek sisters.
Cana, who won the K2 U18 crown with Kyeta Purchase in 2016, will team up with sister Jordan for the Ozzie Gladwin, presented by Parklane Super Spar, this Sunday.