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Dusi icons pair up for attempt on the Fish River Marathon

A brand new pairing of Dusi icons has spiced up the battle for a top 10 gold medal at this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, which takes place in Cradock 27-28 September, with reigning Dusi champ Lance Kime teaming up with Valley of a Thousand Hills hero Thulani Mbanjwa.

The pair’s entry has caused quite a stir as possible Dusi K2 combinations for next year’s event start to become a regular topic of conversation amongst the local paddling community.

For the classy duo though, this weekend’s Eastern Cape assignment is merely a good first hit out and an opportunity to gauge the likelihood of the partnership working long term.

ÔÇ£We’ve never paddled together really,ÔÇØ said Kime. ÔÇ£I spoke to Bungee two months after Dusi this year and asked him if he was keen to paddle next year’s Dusi with me and then we paddled together in June a couple of times when I was home during the holidays. Other than then, we haven’t been in the boat together at all so Fish could be interesting,ÔÇØ he chuckled.

ÔÇ£It will obviously be interesting to see how we go this weekend but doing well at Fish definitely isn’t one of our goals. We’ll see how it goes but Dusi is obviously what will be at the back of our minds throughout and this is very much just a starting point for us in the build up to next year February.

Kime’s partner Mbanjwa ÔÇô himself a former Dusi victor having famously become the first black paddler ever to win the Dusi when he raced to victory with Dusi Duke Martin Dreyer in 2007 ÔÇô also appreciates that their partnership is very much in its developmental stage.

ÔÇ£In June things went okay. We weren’t fit at all but it wasn’t too bad,ÔÇØ said Mbanjwa, pictured right. ÔÇ£At the moment we’re just trying things out and seeing if it could work for Dusi next year so we’ll see how things go for us at Fish.ÔÇØ

As if their inexperience as a combination wasn’t a tough enough obstacle to overcome already, the pair will also need to dig deep and overcome likely fatigue throughout the two-day, 82km affair with both Kime and Mbanjwa having done very little paddling of late. ÔÇ£I’ve only really been paddling for just over a month now so I guess things are going okay but still a bit unfit at this stage,ÔÇØ said Mbanjwa.

ÔÇ£Since this year’s Dusi I’ve just been so busy with varsity work so I’ve really been knuckling down trying to get my final year’s work done,ÔÇØ added Kime. ÔÇ£The season down here in the Western Cape started about three months ago and if I’ve done four or five races so far then it’s a lot!

Despite a packed schedule frustratingly resulting in few opportunities to do what he loves, Kime has managed to find the time to explore a newly developing passion of his which may well add further strength to his already impressive running abilities come Dusi 2013.

ÔÇ£Having come from a routine of training every day, it’s been frustrating to only be able to paddle once or twice a week but I guess in the long term it will serve me well having had a bit of a break from paddling. I’ve also taken up a bit of trail running and am really enjoying that so that helps me keep relatively fit.

ÔÇ£Two months after Dusi I found myself asking ÔÇ£What now?ÔÇØ because it’s really difficult to train towards a goal that is ten months away. My sister (Robyn) had entered a trail running event here in Stellenbosch so I decided to give it a go and am really enjoying that, when I get the chance, too.ÔÇØ

Despite the pair’s individual pedigree, they are unsure of just how well they will fair at this year’s Hansa Fish having spent very little time in the boat together in the build up to the Eastern Cape’s paddling major.

ÔÇ£Up to now we’ve only been in the boat three or four times together so I’d be happy with a top 10,ÔÇØ said Mbanjwa. ÔÇ£It will be a really tough Fish this year though. There are some really strong combinations so it will be a tough challenge to finish in the top ten.ÔÇØÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£With a lack of fitness and having never really paddled together before and so not being all that comfortable in the boat together yet, it’s difficult to know just how Bungee (Mbanjwa) and I will go this weekend,ÔÇØ added Kime. ÔÇ£I’d be thrilled with a top ten finish!ÔÇØ added the University of Stellenbosch student.