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Ulansky returns to SA for Dusi title defence

Canadian Abbey Ulansky has confirmed that she will return to defend her K2 title in the Dusi Canoe Marathon with Robyn Kime from 13-15 February, with a detailed plan to overcome the training challenges in the build-up to the iconic race.

Former South African Ulansky, who won her first Dusi title under her maiden name Abbey Miedema in 2003, went on to win a total of eight Dusi titles, the last of which was with Kime in the K2 championship race in 2012 (see picture right).

They will be aiming to equal the record of three consecutive K2 Dusi victories set up by Debbie Germiquet and Wendy White

Ulansky, who is now the proud mother of two, is based in Kelowna in Canada where heavy winter snows complicate her training options. She plans to jet back to South Africa in mid-January to start her predations with Kime at the annual N3TC Drak Challenge.

“Life is different now,” said Ulansky. “Training is hard all year around and I have learnt to make use of the short time periods I get to train. Winter is hard to do Dusi type training, but there are other great outdoor winter sports to keep me going.”

“I arrive in Cape Town in mid January. It depends on how long it takes for the boys and I to get over the jet lag before I head to KwaZulu-Natal but I hope to be there for the Dash and Crash weekend,” said Ulansky.

She added that it had taken her some time to give a definite answer to Kime when she was approached. “Robs and I spoke about Dusi mid-year, but only committed in September. She has her thesis for her masters in civil engineering due this year and my life revolves around little children, so it took a while for me to commit.

Ulansky, who was a regular feature of the KZN summer river racing scene for many years, said it was hard to ignore the attraction of the Dusi season, even from the other side of the world.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿”The race, the river and the people. Chad (Ulansky her husband) and I have so many friends in SA and it is a treat to be able to do the Dusi, in the gorgeous Dusi Valley, and to be able to catch up with friends we would probably not otherwise see.”

Kime has had an equally challenging year, which her time split between her engineering masters thesis, a flourishing career as a competitive trail runner, and her passion for paddling.

Based in Stellenbosch the former Under 23 marathon champs silver medalist and Western Cape Sportswomen of the Year has been under pressure to find time for her paddling training, and made a return to top flight racing in the Hansa Fish Marathon in September.

However she says the break from her normally intense paddling schedule has been a positive for her. “The break from canoeing has actually been good for me because I feel fresh now, and not bored with canoeing, which can easily be a problem when you spend so much time training and racing,” said Kime.

“I’m feeling excited about my canoeing now, and looking forward to the Dusi,” she added.

Kime is sizing up a unique run of five back-to-back Dusi titles, having won the singles titles in 2013 and 2011, and the doubles titles in 2010 and 2012 with Ulansky.

Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media