N3TC Drak Challenge included on ICF Classic Series

Underberg – Into its 22nd year, the N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon on the Umzimkulu River on 25 and 26 January will bring an added international spotlight to bear on the Southern Drakensberg following the announcement that it has been included as the only African event on the 2015 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Classic Series.

Run by the Marathon Committee of the ICF, the Classic Series aims to pool the world’s best river races into a global tour by offering points for top finishes at each of the events over the calendar year. The N3TC Drak Challenge will be the first event on the ICF Classic series 2015 calendar. Since its dramatic founding in flood conditions in 1994 the Drak Challenge has snowballed in popularity and is the only event other than the Dusi and Fish marathons to have attracted more than 1000 entries.

“I am pleased to have the N3TC Drak Challenge on the ICF Classic Series for 2015,” said race committee chair Barry Cole.
“It is a long term process. We were included on the calendar in 2013 and that sparked some interest from overseas paddlers. We understand that logistically it is a tough and expensive exercise for most international paddlers to make, but every time an overseas paddler visits us they return as one of the race’s best ambassadors,” he said.
Cole invited interested overseas paddlers to make contact with the host club which will assist with transport, accommodation, access to boats and tripping of the river before the race.

Over the years the race has caught the attention of several international stars, including German ace Max Hoff, who arrived in Underberg for the 2007 Drak Challenge with three team mates from the German Wild Water squad on a training camp in South Africa. Hoff, who is now one of the world’s best 1000m K1 Olympic sprinters, won the race in tricky low water conditions, beating a powerful field of top local stars attracted by the SA K1 River Championship status of the race that year.

Last year Czech Republic marathon sibling stars Anna Adamova and Jakub Adam raced the 65km two day event along with two Australians Josh Kippin and James Morfitt. Czech elite racer Michael Odvarko raced the 2013 event in testing full conditions as part of his Dusi training.

“I am thrilled that we have chosen a South African race for the ICF Classic Series that is typical of the way we race,” said Hillary Bruss, who in 2012 won the women’s category of the ICF Classic Series. “The Drak is a race with technical rapids and not a lot of flatwater!”
“The Drak is a great race to have on the ICF series because it is in such a beautiful valley and the water is clean. Anyone who makes the trip to SA will love it,” she added.

The N3TC Drak Challenge 2014 starts on 24 January at Castleburn Bridge outside Underberg and finishes on 25 January at Early Mists Farm close to Coleford. More information can be found at www.drak.co.za

Drak Challenge PitchfordRunning

Local star Hillary Bruss says the N3TC Drak Challenge is the ideal race to represent South African river paddling on the ICF Classic Series. “The Drak is a race with technical rapids and not lots of flatwater,” said Bruss. (Dave Lacleod Gameplan Media)