Robyn Kime wraps up fourth back-to-back Dusi title
Durban – Robyn Kime scored her fourth consecutive win in The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon on Saturday, wrapping up a convincing victory after adopting a conservative approach on the final day. It was her second K1 title and made race history as she and her brother Lance, 17 months her junior, became the first siblings to win K1 titles in the same year.
“I’m very pleased, especially with Lance’s result,” said Robyn. “From the start of today, as well as from the start of the second day, I knew that if I could just keep the race together, then I could get the win.”
Describing her approach with a healthy lead in hand after two days, she said: “I took it very slowly and carefully in the rapids, from Tops Needle down to the Burma Road takeout.
“I ran over Burma. Every year I’m surprised by how hard it is. Every year I say I’m never going to run it again, but I do run it every year. I’ll probably have to do it again sometime. I ran around Pumphouse [weir and rapid] as well, just to be safe. It was a long slog to Durban to end.”
It was at Pumphouse Weirs, that Kime learnt her brother had won the men’s race. “I definitely had extra energy after hearing he had won. I was so excited about it,” she said.
The introduction of a reverse start on the final day, which saw the leaders in the men’s and women’s races leaving much later than they had in the past ensured there were big crowds at the finish. The men enjoyed it and so too did Kime.
“It was great having so many people lining the banks. In some of the pre-Dusi races, they finish at a bridge a bit higher up and Dusi’s an extra 300 metres and it feels too far, but to have crowds lining the bank gives one that extra energy to get through right to the end,” she said.
“It’s nice to have paddlers in that crowd. Previously the crowd was made up of some seconds and people that don’t really know about paddling. Now it’s people who have already finished the race. They’re there on the banks. They know what it’s all about. It really adds to the vibe, having people there that are part of the race.”
Not only did Kime win, she also smashed the women’s record, but she was modest about her achievement. “I’m very pleased. I think the race records, especially on day two and day three, were more due to the [high] water level than anything else. I certainly didn’t have a good day two. For some reason I was still under the record. I think it was just because of the huge water release that we had.”
Kime also paid tribute to former Dusi queen Abbey Ulansky (nee Miedema), a seven-time women’s winner, with whom she has won two K2 titles. “She’s sitting in Canada, but her heart is definitely here at the Dusi. I’ve had about 10 SMSes from her each day, plus one or two e-mails. She’s still full of advice and very excited about the race,” Kime reckoned.
With four wins to her name now, she’s closing in on her former paddling partner’s record.
Abby Adie’s final day was more about securing her hold on second place than on chasing Kime, who had a huge advantage that made it too much of risk to try and catch her. “I am absolutely happy with my race overall.” Adie said. “To beat Robyn is going to take something very special, so I’m very happy with my [second] place.
“Yesterday I did push quite hard and I still didn’t manage to close the gap and had just one little minor mistake. Today I had a brilliant day. I pushed and it was good.” In fact, it was good enough for the fastest time of the day.
Adie’s route of choice differed from Kime’s only in a decision not to run up the notorious Burma Road portage. “I paddled around Burma Road, so I didn’t go over, which I thought would be a bit quicker. I think it actually worked out to be the same [time], but I didn’t take any other risks that she didn’t. I didn’t shoot Pumphouse or Island,” Adie explained.
“Day one’s tough running was a factor in my decision. Paddling definitely suits me more. I was fresh. My arms were good, so today I did push quite hard.”
Jen Theron began the day in third place with the narrowest of leads over Hilary Pitchford and they once again had a ding-dong battle.
Theron had an eventful day, as she explained: “When I ran into the big water, I wasn’t reading it as cleanly as yesterday. We went down Little John and I hit the biggest rock in the river and was launched into the air. Hilary [Pitchford], Bianca [Haw] and Jordan [Peek] all came past. I could see they were smiling quietly,” she laughed.
“I got back in and, really, I thought I had lost my third place. Hilary’s really good in big water and she opened up a two-minute gap by Molweni. I even thought of shooting Island, but I’m too scared of that, so I ran around. I was just paddling, trying to keep it going.
“I got to Pumphouse Weirs and it was absolutely massive,” she continued. “There were a couple of guys swimming and I was concentrating on the next bridge. The rapid was huge with massive rocks.
“When I got onto the flats, I put my head down and tried to catch [the paddlers in front of me] and see what I could do. I caught up to a friend of mine and he said Hilary was swimming below the weirs. I couldn’t believe my ears. I said to him if you’re wrong you’re in big trouble. I suppose Hilary and I both had a swim, but luckily mine was shorter than hers,” she smiled.
Apart from the Kime siblings, one of the proudest people at the finish was their father, Patrick.
“I am very, very proud of them both. It was lovely to see it happen,” he said.
Asked if he offered his children any special words of advice before the start of the final day’s racing, he said: “We were together before and after each day, but I leave it to them. I haven’t got much advice to give. They know ten times more than I do about this sport.”
More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za