The reigning SA K2 River Champions and long-standing K2 marathon partners Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase aim to make a bold statement at the Dusi Canoe Marathon.
The World Marathon Championship silver medallists have become one of the longest-standing elite crews in South Africa and won the national river title at the Hansa Fish last year, but they have never paddled a Dusi together despite their illustrious career as a K2 duo.
While their paddling strength on the water is well documented, Purchase makes no qualms about their lack of pace over the portages.
‘It’s no secret that Jenna and I are not the strongest running combination because we just don’t put as much effort into our running as our paddling,’ Purchase said.
‘With marathons being our focus that means that we focus much more on our paddling and putting in that base work for the rest of the year is important for us.’
The Euro Steel/Gara Paddles pair of Ward and Purchase have done a fair amount of experimenting when it comes to the comparison between running and paddling certain sections of the Dusi route – and they have found that paddling will be more beneficial for them.
‘With the Haw sisters and Christie [Mackenzie] and Cana [Peek] we think that we would lose less time paddling than running. To have 17 cumecs guaranteed for the final day is very exciting and not only does it make it more fun but it is an advantage to us paddlers.’
For Purchase, the Dusi forms part of the bigger picture as they prepare for the national trials for the World Marathon Championships in Norway in August. She believes that the Dusi will be a good block of training for them.
‘We started racing this season as part of our marathon training and won the first two races really well, so we thought we would give it a go. We wanted to see how things were going given that we have never paddled a Dusi together and that was really exciting going into the season.
‘It will provide us with a good base for the rest of the year with Marathon’s in June and it is an event that forms part of a much bigger picture for us.’
The 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from 27-29 February.
Photo: Image of Jenna Ward (front) and Kyeta Purchase by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media