Safe route for canoeists

THE safety of the Duzi Canoe Marathon participants has been assured by a conservation organisation set up to look after the race route.

This comes after reports that in some parts of the river there was visible waste floating in the water, which might harm the paddlers.

Andrew Booth, the manager of the Duzi-Umgeni Conservation Trust, said they were working closely with the Umsunduzi municipality to clean up waste in the river.

This year's race, from January 21 to January 23, has attracted a record number of entries, with 16000 applications, compared to 14000 received last year.

"As an organisation we focus on removing solid sewer and industrial waste in areas nearby the race route.

"We have also developed a working relationship with the municipality to regularly check on sewer pipes which are known to cause problems," said Booth.

The race stretches over 120km, starting from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg and ends at Umgeni River Mouth in Durban.

Duzi spokesperson Ray Devries said they expected a huge turnout from communities to rally behind the country's top paddlers, who will be pairing together for this year's race.

The interest from international paddlers had also increased.

"With veteran winners Antony Stott and Michael Mbanjwa pairing together, we hope that they can win the race," said Devries.

Mbanjwa and Stott have won the race separately, but will be looking for their first win together.

"Pairing up with Michael will be an advantage as he has won it before," said Stott.