Van Deventer edges closer to 50 Berg Marathon finishes | TeamSA - TeamSA

Van Deventer edges closer to 50 Berg Marathon finishes


When online entries opened for the 2018 Berg River Canoe Marathon, it was no surprise that the first entry lodged came from evergreen Giel Van Deventer, aiming to extend his record as the paddler to have completed the most races in this iconic event’s history.

Van Deventer, now 68 years old, will win his 49th Berg medal should he reach Velddrif on Saturday 14 July, and edge his staggering record of finishes closer to that elusive 50 medals milestone.

‘A few years back, while I was doing my 40th Berg, Bruce Clarke paddled past me and asked why I keep coming back to do another Berg year after year,’ said Van Deventer, who now works for the Berg River Irrigation Board.

‘I told him that it’s my yearly medical check-up. Every time I complete another Berg I know that I am still physically OK. On the mental side I suppose one should do another test but we leave that topic for another day!’ he quipped.

Van Deventer has been a hearty supporter of the new team format adopted by the Berg and co-opted fellow Great Grand Master Lood Rabie as his teammate for the 2018 race.

The duo raced the recent Orange River Marathon, and while many paddlers are adopting a wait-and-see approach given the four-year-long drought that has ravaged the region, Van Deventer has his sights firmly set on the race.

‘My Berg teammate, Lood Rabie, and I have just done the Orange River Descent and we both agreed there’s nothing else that gives you as big a thrill as a fast-moving full river.

‘The Orange was flowing at 650 cumecs (cubic metres per second). We wished we could just divert a small fraction of that big water down to the Berg!’ said Van Deventer.

‘The Berg has now been low for three drought-stricken years in a row. In the past 100 years we’ve never had three dry years in a row so we’re confident that 2018 will be a normal year again.

‘Never mind what the weather prophets predict, statistically it should be a normal year again. So far in 2018, we had much more of the normal Western Cape weather patterns, with lots of south-easterly windstorms in summer and rain during Easter weekend.

‘Global warming gets blamed for our lower rainfall over the past three years. I don’t agree with this theory because warmer temperatures may just as well cause more evaporation from the oceans which will lead to more moist air in the atmosphere which could cause even higher rainfall.

‘My gut feeling says we will get normal rainfall this winter with good water levels and Lood and I are looking forward to an exciting Berg 2018,’ said Van Deventer.

‘I will try to get to at least 50 Bergs and thereafter I’ll consider stopping if I feel that the old body is taking too much punishment,’ explains Van Deventer. ‘But 50 Bergs will allow me to rest in peace!’

Normal entries are now being taken online at until Wednesday 27 June after which a R250 late entry penalty will apply.

The Berg River Canoe marathon starts in Paarl on 11 July and ends at Velddrif on 14 July.

Photo: Van Deventer in Berg Marathon action, by John Hishin/Gameplan Media

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