With less than 48 hours to go to the start of the 2013 The Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon, which gets underway in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, top paddlers are tipping Shaun Rubenstein as possibly the biggest surprise who could race his way onto this year’s men’s podium.
Rubenstein won the race convincingly as a junior and returned from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to claim an unexpected third place in a K1 in 2009.
Now, married and settled in Cape Town, the Kayak Racing star has been concentrating his efforts on his mountain, surfski and trail running as he prepares for the ABSA Cape Epic later on in the year.
ÔÇ£Watch out for Ruby!ÔÇØ said his friend and business partner Thulani Mbanjwa, himself tipped by many to battle it out for this year’s title. ÔÇ£we all know he’s a great paddler but we were shocked to see him catch up and overtake all the top guys running up Guinea Fowl portage in one of the pre-Dusi races a couple of weeks ago.ÔÇØ
Mbanjwa’s view was backed up by four time Dusi winner Ant Stott. ÔÇ£Ruby came third in 2009 coming off a sprint base and carrying an ankle injury. That says a lot for you . He has a heart of a lion!ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Andy Birkett has single-handedly changed this race and you can’t go into this race hoping to be competitive just being a strong paddler anymore. Shaun (Rubenstein) has done plenty of work on his legs on the bike and trail running recently and he is definitely my prediction to come second behind Andy Birkett in this year’s Dusi.ÔÇØ
Rubenstein’s advantage, as he gets in from Cape Town 48 hours before racing commences, is that he is under no pressure coming into this year’s encounter ÔÇô conditions under which he thrives and often performs at his best.
As a schoolboy Rubenstein was taken under the wing Dusi King Graeme Pope-Ellis and was taught the art of racing on the Dusi. This, together with his never ending determination, helped Rubenstein and K2 partner Steve Farrell to an impressive sixth place overall, despite it being Farrell’s first Dusi ever.
Whilst many will have their eyes closely on Birkett, Mbanjwa and Hank McGregor when the gun goes on Thursday morning, the elite stars setting off in A batch will do themselves no harm by keeping a close eye on Rubenstein, one of this year’s dark horse competitors, as well.
The Unlimited Dusi starts at Camps Drift, and the race ends at Blue Lagoon in Durban on 16 February 2013.