Facing searing heat, treacherous rapids, menacing rocks and children throwing stones, more than 800 paddlers risked their necks on 119 kilometers of the rough white waters of South Africa’s Msunduzi River. Nearly a hundred didn’t make it. The Dusi Marathon, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, is not for the faint hearted.
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Paddlers emerge from the Ernie Pearce Weir in the 2014 Dusi Marathon, one of South Africa’s most well known canoe races. The race is run over three days in the searing heat along the Msunduzi River from Pietermartizberg to Durban. Of the 817 teams who took part, 715 finished. This shot required both timing and a close encounter as the front packed slammed down the Pier in large groups. 400mm at 1/4000 at f5,6
On a misty morning on Day 1
The chaos of Ernie Pearce Weir
Pedestrians crossing a low level bridge as paddlers make their way out of Pietermartizburg
More rapids on Day 2
Approaching the end of Day 2
Day 3 – paddlers launch their boat after a portage, that is getting out of the water and carrying the 23kg canoe rather than risk floundering on the rocks.
Lifeguards watch paddlers as they approach rapids on Day 3
A close shot of paddlers as they take on the Tops Needle on Day 3. One of the racing team split their canoe in half and ran the rest of the way with half a canoe each to Durban. It took them four and a half hours to cross the finish line.
The spirit of the race is amazing to see. Family members are roped in to help the racers. In the searing heat cool water is thrown onto paddlers at every opportunity.