Mbanjwa too tired to race

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Exhaustion has taken its toll on top South African canoeist Michael Mbanjwa, who has decided not to compete in the yearly Drakensberg Challenge Canoe Marathon in Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal, this weekend.

Close to 800 canoeists from South Africa and overseas are expected to battle for honours in this 62km event that starts tomorrow and ends on Sunday.

Mbanjwa, the celebrated canoeist from the Valley of a Thousand Hills who now lives in Benoni, confirmed to Sowetan yesterday that he was tired.

He took part in the gruelling Non-Stop Dusi Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban a fortnight ago.

The race, which he won with his partner Piers Cruickshanks, covered a distance of 120km in one day.

Mbanjwa went into this event barely three weeks after finishing second in the solo section of the Dusi Marathon.

"I'm from two taxing assignments and I'm really exhausted," said Mbanjwa yesterday. "I would have loved to be part of this challenge but I don't think I will cope. I just want a rest before going for a national camp in Durban next week."

The camp has been organised by Canoe South Africa to prepare its squad for the World Cup in Hungary in June.

The spotlight in the Drakensberg Challenge will fall on three-time winner Len Jenkins, a wildcard entry.

Jenkins won last year's race in a stunning solo charge that left the likes of Ant Stott and Grant van der Walt dead in the water.

Hank McGregor is also a favourite for the title that has eluded him.

Beijing Olympians Jen Hodson, Carol Joyce and Michele Eray should steal the limelight in the women's race.