With just over a fortnight to go to the 2018 edition of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, some of the race’s stalwarts put their hands up at the two-day Pink Lady Canoe Marathon that covers part of the Berg course and decided the Western Province K1 river marathon titles for 2018.
Graeme Solomon won a needle end sprint from Paarl racer Luke Stowman with junior Uli Hart putting in a strong showing to claim the last step on the podium ahead of Berg regulars Ernest van Riet and Heinrich Schloms, while Bianca Beavitt romped to an easy win in the women’s race.
“It was a great race, but more importantly we had great water in the river or the race ,” said Solomon, who will be teaming up with the defending champion Adrian Boros as Team Bamboo Warehouse for the new Berg team format race in a fortnight.
“Compared to last year when the situation was desperate, I really think we are out of the woods in terms of water and we can look forward to a good Berg in two weeks’ time,” said the 45 year old.
The race podium was decided in a thrilling dice to the second stage finish at Skooltjie bridge, with Solomon being put under severe pressure from Stowman and Hart on either side of him.
“They were taking turns at coming hard at me which made for a really exciting end to the race,” said Solomon.
The race was characterised by solid pressure from the main chasing bunch, which closed out the lead trios advantage on several stages during the race.
Solomon led the early break on the first stage from Gouda to Bridgetown, until they got lost in the notorious channels above the headwater of the dam.
“It was my first time on that section of river this season, and I have to admit that I made some pretty poor choices, and the chasers closed in on us,” said Solomon.
“On the second stage from Paarl the chasers came back at us early on, which made for really exciting racing,” he added.
He added that a successful two days racing on the Berg was the perfect catalyst for entries to start pouring in ahead of the normal entry deadline for the Berg Marathon on Wednesday this week.
In the women’s title race Beavitt showed her solid form to completed the race twenty minutes quicker than her K2 partner from the recent SA Marathon champs Melanie van Niekerk, with seasoned Paarl Paarl paddler Joritha Prins earning the last step on the women’s podium.
Normal entries are now being taken online at www.berg.org.za until Wednesday 27 June after which a R250 late entry penalty will apply.
Summary of results
Pink Lady Drakenstein WP K1 Champs
- Graeme Solomon 3:42:51
- Luke Stowman 3:42:51
- Uli Hart 3:42:53
- Ernest van Riet 3:42:56
- Heinrich Schloms 3:46:15
- Bianca Beavitt 3:55:23
- Melanie van Niekerk 4:14:58
- Joritha Prins 4:35:52
- Lisa Scott 4:57:55
- Alta-Mari Du Preez 5:27:48
The Berg River Canoe marathon starts in Paarl on 11 July and ends at Velddrif on 14 July. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za