King and Ward crowned victorious at 2013 Berg
Velddrif – Four days and 240km of paddling culminated in Velddrif as paddlers crossed the finish line of the 2013 Berg River Canoe Marathon with overnight leader Lance King finishing third on the day, enough to hand him his maiden victory whilst Jenna Ward clung to her overnight lead to secure the women’s title.
Nerves and speculation were rife ahead of the final stage’s commencement as a last minute decision forced paddlers to take a 3km portage around a water hyacinth block shortly after the start of the stage, leaving most unsure of what to expect and how the action would unfold.
Pierre-Andre Rabie (Maties/Vibram Fivefingers) lead the charge and gained an important lead after the run, enough for him to hand him a memorable stage victory and hand him fourth place overall.
Graeme Solomon (Bamboo Warehouse) was unable to match King’s efforts and lost further time on the leader, forcing him to settle for second place overall whilst under 23 star Ivan Kruger (Futurelife) claimed the final step on the podium.
“I’m just really excited right now,” said King afterwards. “It’s been seven years in the making so it’s a very special moment for me.”
“The reality hit me with about 10km to go and, thankfully, it was the quickest final 10km of my life to the finish line.
“It’s been a different kind of Berg. We’ve never done a Berg with a 3km portage before so I’m just glad I was the stronger man on the day and was able to stay with the guys at the front.
“After the portage there were four of us together and that’s when we decided to put the hammer down. We tried to see if we could get Ivan (Kruger) up to second but we lost it a bit at the end so then I just enjoyed the moment.
A disappointed yet gracious Solomon crossed the finish line with Louw van Riet (AQ Rate), Edgar Boehm Jnr. and Ben Brown in the stage’s second bunch of four to claim yet another Berg podium finish.
“Ben (Brown) and I had a terrible take out at the portage and sunk almost up to our neck in mud. By the time we got going again the others were gone and I knew then that that was that,” said Solomon.
“The tree block on stage two was definitely the turning point but no excuses now. Hats off to Lance for his win.
“Well done to Ivan as well. A while back I recognized his talent and said he’d be one to watch. He has all the tools to go on to win ten Bergs in his career so this is just the start for him,” he added.
Apart from his third place finish overall, Kruger also claimed the under 23 men’s category however it was his efforts in the senior competition that were particularly pleasing for the youngster.
“I’d hoped to try close the gap to Graeme but I’m still hugely happy with third. I had a horrible first day which counted against me because it meant I was on my own the entire way on day two but I felt strong these last two days and I’m happy to be on the podium,” said Kruger.
“It’s been a big season for me. It’s been my jump season and the one where I’ve made my mark in the senior category so this result is part of a good whole season for me.
“My 21st is in a week’s time so I’ll be taking the rest of the month off and just enjoying myself before getting back into training again for a month before Breede.
Rabie’s stage four victory handed him a pleasing fourth place overall whilst the fascinating battle between van Riet and Boehm for fifth position and the final gold medal saw van Riet just do enough to hold off a charging Boehm at the finish.
“It’s tough because Edgar’s a good friend of mine and I wanted him to do well too but neither of us have ever won a gold at Berg before and there was just no ways I was giving up so close to the finish,” said van Riet.
Brown claimed seventh whilst Lee McGregor, crowd favourite and father of nine-time race winner Hank, narrowly hung onto eighth position despite it Zondi’s final day’s charge in his first ever appearance at the race.
“I was fine after day one and two but I was sore yesterday morning and this morning I could hardly move,” said the 61 year old McGregor after becoming the first over 50 year old to finish inside the top ten at the event.
“I got a sms from hank this morning though saying ‘I’m with you every meter of the way dad’ and that’s all that got me through today.
“I cannot believe I finished eighth, I’m just so happy to have finished in the top ten!
KZN under 23 talent Jenna Ward (Varsity College) has nervy final stage as she hung on to claim the women’s title ahead of Kirsten Penderis (AQ Rate) and Joritha Prins.
With nearly two minutes in the bag from her third stage efforts, Ward started the final day well with a remarkable performance on the 3km portage. The young star was however made to pay for her efforts midway through the stage as she watched Penderis destroy her three and a half minute stage gap and had to work hard to stay with the Cape local in the dying stages of the race to hang onto victory.
“Kirsten caught me at Drie Huisies and I knew I just had to give whatever I had left to stay with her and make sure she didn’t close the gap I got on her yesterday,” said Ward.
“Fortunately I was able to do so and the win is probably the biggest moment of my paddling career so far!
“(The fact that I won) hasn’t hit me just yet but I’m sure it will later and then I really will enjoy the moment,” she added.
With Kruger having claimed the men’s under 23 title the battle for second and third was left to Joseph Williams and Luke Stowman with Williams claiming the runners-up position. Ward claimed the under women’s title as well whilst Computershare Change a Life Academy member Mthobisi Cele and under 16 paddler Anya Botes were the first junior boy and girl across the line respectively.
More information can be found at www.berg.org.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHON
1.Lance King 4:19.07 17:17.29
2.Graeme Solomon 4:21.26 17:21.19
3.Ivan Kruger (U23) 4:19.09 17:30.03
4.Pierre-Andre Rabie 4:19.03 17:37.34
5.Louw van Riet 4:21:27 17:39.56
6.Edgar Boehm Jnr. 4:21.27 17:40.03
7.Ben Brown 4:21.25 17:42.55
8.Lee McGregor 4:36.52 18:00.13
9.Sbonelo Zondi 4:19.06 18:02.44
10.Gavin White 4:25.48 18:09.15
11.Paul Marais 4:34.24 18:19.42
12.Joseph Williams (U23) 4:42.44 18:38.39
13.Greg van Heerden 4:35.27 18:44.29
14.Chris de Waal 4:43.19 18:52.23
15.Luke Stowman (U23) 4:42.52 18:58.55
16.John de Villiers 4:48.59 19:04.05
17.Mynhardt Marais 4:49.05 19:05.13
18.Mmeli Cele (U23) 4:34.21 19:06.38
19.Mthobisi Cele (U18) 4:51.11 19:12.37
20.Pieter Theron 4:49.01 19:13.44
1.Jenna Ward (U23) 5:20.49 20:43.05
2.Kirsten Penderis 5:20.56 20:45.01
3.Joritha Prins 5:47.28
4.Lisa Scott 5:46.24 22:49.18
5.Juli Morris 5:47.33 22:54.40
1.Ivan Kruger 4:19.09 17:30.03
2.Joseph Williams 4:42.44 18:38.39
3.Luke Stowman 4:42.52 18:58.55
1.Jenna Ward 5:20.49 20:43.05
1.Mthobisi Cele 4:51.11 19:12.37
2.Michael Farringer 4:57.34 19:27.50
3.Michael Pretorius 4:53.40 19:54.18