Dusi to honour icon Dr Ian Player

Pietermaritzburg – The 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon will honour its founder and inaugural winner Dr Ian Player who passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon. Dr Player, who was 87, suffered a stroke on and passed away quietly surrounded by family at his Karkloof home.

Player was one of the eight adventurers that set off on the first ever Dusi Canoe Marathon in 1951 and was the only finisher, becoming the first champion of the paddling and portaging ultra-marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
The 2015 edition of the Dusi will he held in special tribute to Dr Ian Player, who maintained very close ties with the race that he helped found 64 years ago.

“We are devastated by the news that Dr Player has passed away,” said Dusi GM Brett Austen Smith. “He was truly great South African, a man who’s vision and perspective was quite inspiring. “His passion for adventure and conservation will always be cherished by the 12 374 men and women who have followed in his footsteps and completed a Dusi, and by every single one of the athletes that will start the 2015 edition of the race in his memory,” Austen Smith added.

Player continually applied pressure on local authorities and municipalities to pay more attention to the state of the rivers in KwaZulu-Natal, and to the uMsundusi and uMngeni rivers that play host to the Dusi Canoe Marathon.

“We can judge peoples attitude to conservation of our natural environment by the state of our rivers,” Player said in an emotional appeal earlier this year. Nothing would please me more than to come down to the start of the next Dusi and see clean river banks and clean water for all the people of these valleys to enjoy.” Player was globally heralded conservationist who championed the conservation of the white rhino in particular. He is acknowledged worldwide as the grandfather of nature conservation in South Africa.

He will be buried at a small private family service, while a number of memorial services in his honour are being planned. “His passing has been so gentle and peaceful while his Spirit and Soul were being absorbed into the Greater Universe,” said Sheila Berry on behalf of the Player family.

The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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Brett Austen Smith (left) shared a nostalgic afternoon with Dusi founder Dr Ian Player after the discovery of the original Player Family Trophy earlier this year. The 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon will be held in memory of the races legend and conservation icon Dr Ian Player. (Dave Mcleod Gameplan Media)