Two days of intense racing came down to a sprint as the 2019 edition of the VKB Liebenbergsvlei Canoe Marathon wrapped up in Frankfort on Sunday, 1 September.
The VKB Liebenbergsvlei Canoe Marathon is a two-day canoe race down the Liebenbergsvlei River, which stems from the Katse Dam in the Lesotho Highlands.
Over 300 athletes took part in this event.
The first stage from Reitz Waterworks to the Zorgvliet Farm (Tweeling) stretches over 30 km. The second stage, from Bruinswick Farm (Tweeling) to O’Gala Pub and Restaurant in Frankfort, is 34 km.
For the third year, VKB is the main sponsor of this event.
Hamish Lovemore (Euro Steel / Varsity College), was able to defend his title, along with training partner and flatmate, Stewart Little (Euro Steel / Varsity College).
It was not all smooth sailing for this winning team, however, as they had to work tirelessly to beat Jacques Theron (Central Gauteng) and Bryan Le Roux (KZN) to the finish line.
Theron and Le Roux were the overnight leaders by a margin of two seconds, but they relinquished that lead 5 km before the finish line after the final portage around a weir.
“The youngsters were too strong today,” said Theron, who is no stranger to the top step of the podium in canoe races.
Little was humble in his response, saying: “We were lucky to win as we made many mistakes, but we are very glad to have pulled it off.”
His partner, who drove them to this year’s victory, is familiar with the VKB trophy – he has held it for the past three years.
“To win this year, and keep the trophy in KwaZulu-Natal, is very special,” Lovemore said, “but we had to work hard for the win against a strong crew.”
The award for the performance of the day, however, had to go to the partnership of Clint Cook and Wayne Jacobs, who slipped down the rankings to seventh position on the first day due to a broken paddle 12 km into the stage.
Pulling out all the stops on their second day, they clawed their way back onto the podium.
The women’s race saw a young combination take the win.
Georgina Howard (Epworth) and Shannon Parker-Dennison (Epworth), both competitors in the u.16 category, are also the winners of the Canoeing South Africa title of SA Schools K2 River Champions, which this race doubled as.
Their win gave them victories in both the u.16 and u.18 category, as well as the overall victory and the SA Schools title.
Over 300 athletes started the race and made their way from Reitz to Tweeling, then to Frankfort for the final stage, where the celebrations and race stories were swopped with great gusto at the now famous end point of O’Gala’s Pub.
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