No damper on paddlers in ice cold weather

ICY COLD: The leading bunch of K2 paddlers, doubles, charge to the first rapid of the river race hosted by Johannesburg Canoe Club, in Meyerton, on the Klip River

DESPITE the cold weather and water, Gauteng paddlers are up and running and paddling for a variety of goals.

The novice season during winter, when without rainfall the rivers are more manageable, slower, shallower and less wild, is the beginning of the canoeing race season which peaks in the summer rainfall and flooding months by which time paddlers have the experience, ability and skills they need to tackle the big, faster water.

Novices who begin learning rivers need to gain a number of qualifying points in the winter months by participating in races in order to achieve A-grade river race status that will allow them to enter the A-grade rivers in the summer season with the first A-grade river race usually taking place in Cradock, Eastern Cape, on the Fish River.

At the same time, a number of paddlers have been working on fitness, stamina and endurance to look for a good position at the Gauteng Marathon Championship where the provinces’ team will be selected to represent Gauteng at the South African marathon event in August, in Natal. At the SA marathon event, a limited number of achievers will be identified and selected to represent South Africa at the International Canoe Federation, ICF World Marathon Championship which takes place in Pietermaritzburg in September this year.

There are always a few paddlers training to participate in the Western Cape’s Berg River, a distance of 240km over four days making it the longest river paddler in South Africa.

Johannesburg Canoe Club based at Wemmer Pan hosted the +-30 km race from Meyerton’s Danie Maclean Park to Three Rivers where the Klip River meets the Vaal River and the race finished at the North West University Campus in Vanderbijlpark to provide training opportunities for all the above goals!

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Annette van Schalkwyk
Sports journalist

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