The Unlimited Dusi 2013 is set to produce some of the most exciting women’s racing seen in the last few years, with most the top contenders in South African river paddling committed to racing the three-day spectacle that starts on 14 February.
Amongst the big names already slated to race are three-time race champion, Robyn Kime, 2011 and 2012 runner up, Abby Adie, Gauteng’s Jen Theron, and the ever present Hilary Pitchford, widely respected as one of the most competent roughwater female paddlers in the country.
With Pitchford’s 2012 racing plans derailed just two weeks before the 2012 Dusi, as a result of breaking her hand during a training session, she is back and hungry to race.
ÔÇ£That was a huge blow for me ÔÇô being forced to be on the banks was difficult but I had an awesome time seconding and supporting. Being a part of the race but not racing was actually really fun, and I learnt that seconds do a lot more than we think!ÔÇØ said Pitchford.
It was a slow road to recovery for the plucky 28-year-old, but she is both determined and hopeful that the months ahead will remain injury free.
ÔÇ£Getting back into training was really hard and I think I really felt it at the Avon Descent in Australia this year. I returned home with such bad tendinitis, so I had to rest for a long time, which put me on the back foot again. Because of this it has been quite difficult trying to manage my training, while at the same time staying injury free. I’m holding thumbs that everything will stay intact for Dusi 2013!
For Pitchford, having placed third three times in the past ÔÇô twice in a K2, and once in a K1, the Team Racefood/Matelec athlete has been upping her running and will be looking for that elusive top podium position.
ÔÇ£I think that the most important elements in racing a good Dusi are firstly, getting your running up to speed, and secondly, knowing the river at all levels,ÔÇØ said Pitchford.
If anyone knows the river at its many levels, it’s Pitchford, having raced 11 Dusi Canoe Marathons in the past, and having twice won the Ladies Non-Stop Dusi title in a K1.
With her racing pedigree including many big water titles, it should be no surprise that Pitchford lists some of the Dusi’s trickiest rapids, generally avoided by a vast majority of the field, amongst her favourites.
ÔÇ£I really enjoy Tops Needle, and rapids such as Island 1 and Island 2. The risk involved is high but the reward and feeling of making these rapids is a really great! Confluence is also a lot of fun.ÔÇØ
Pitchford recently got engaged to former Dusi winner Deon Bruss, and will be eager to get to the startline on Valentine’s Day next year to cement what promises to be a very special year for the couple.
Competitors line up for the start of The Unlimited Dusi on 14 February at Camps Drift, and ends in Durban on 16 February 2013.