Green Kalahari Entices South Africa\'s Top Paddlers
The second edition of the Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon will feature a high profile field including some of the top paddling talent in the country. The three-day stage race over 99 kilometres from Upington to Augrabies in the Northern Cape takes place from 21 – 23 March and carries an impressive prize purse of R170 000.
Fierce competition can be expected from the elite line-up of top performing male paddlers including last year’s K2 winners Lance King and Heinrich Schloms, 2013 Dusi podium finisher and winner of The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi Sbonele Zongi, previous Dusi winner Thulani Mbanjwa and Berg veterans Pierre –Andre Rabe and Louw Van Riet. With Simon van Gysen and Jasper Mocke also confirming their entries this weekend, the race will be sporting one of the strongest K1 fields in the country. World surfski champions Dawid and Nicci Mocke will also be part of the action.
The ladies’ race will see Robyn Kime in top form after her resounding victory in The Unlimited Dusi battling it out with Olympian Michele Eray. Race organisers are still awaiting confirmation whether marathon and river paddler Hillary Pitchford will make it to the starting line in Upington.
Young paddlers are also eager to make their mark on the race with Dusi Duke Martin Dreyer entering ten members of his Change a Life Academy. Dreyer has invested a lot of time in training paddlers from the Valley of a 1000 Hills in rural KwaZulu Natal and the youngsters are slowly making their marks in paddling circles. They will be joined by development teams from Paarl and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.
In association with presenting partners Northern Cape Tourism Authority and Orange River Wine Cellars, race organisers are hoping to build on the success of the inaugural race in 2012. “Paddlers were absolutely overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the Green Kalahari region and the mighty Orange River as well as the warm-hearted hospitality of local communities. The participants from last year’s race definitely became enthusiastic ambassadors for this amazing race and we are hoping to the 100-entry mark this year,” says race organiser Gawie Nieuwoudt.
For destination marketing agency Northern Cape Tourism Authority (NCTA), the event has become another iconic adventure sport activity on their burgeoning calendar. According to CEO Sharron Lewis, events such as the Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon are cementing their brand positioning as the mecca for outdoor and adventure sports in South Africa.
“The incredibly enthusiastic response we received from last year’s participants has once again proven how ideally suited the Northern Cape is to host world class sporting events. With our year-round sunny weather and incredible natural beauty, the province can really provide the backdrop to life-changing travel experiences. Events such as this epic river marathon only reiterate how crucially important sport tourism has become for tourism destinations and we hope that participants and local communities embrace this opportunity to showcase our remarkable province,” mentions Lewis.
Entrants in the race will have the opportunity to experience the splendour of the Northern Cape first-hand during wine tastings at Orange River Cellars and a sunset visit to the majestic Augrabies Falls. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of the region, while savouring the warm-hearted hospitality of its people and its fabulous local cuisine along the Quiver Tree Tourism Route. Members of the public are invited to join Pete van Kets and Andrew Kellet for a talk on paddling and extreme adventure travel on Friday, 22 March, from 18h30 at Die Mas in Kakamas.