Neck and neck in Dusi 2014’s women’s clash

Dusi Bridge – The women’s opening encounter of the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon was a hard-fought affair which sees Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky a mere twenty nine seconds ahead of Abby Adie and Czech Republic’s Anna Adamová going into Friday’s second stage.

Double defending champions Kime and Ulansky were twitchy at first but soon found their rhythm and launched a comeback on early leaders Adie and Adamová which saw them claim the lead and remain there until day one’s finish line.

“We definitely would have wanted a more than twenty-nine seconds,” chuckled Kime about the gap between herself and Ulanksy and Adie and Adamová.

“It was great racing out there today though. We had to push hard to get here first today and it was tight racing the whole way.

“We didn’t have any hiccups along the way and we made Ernie Pearce, which was a first for us as a combination. We were consistent on our paddles and solid on runs and just had a really good day.

Having prepared in the significantly cooler environment of her new hometown in Canada, surprisingly Ulansky wasn’t fazed by the high temperatures of the uMsundusi Valley and hopes hers and Kime’s brief yet intense build-up campaign will put them in good stead over the next two days of racing.

“I didn’t find the heat too hot. It’s a treat starting so early!” said Ulansky.

“Robs and I have great fun together but this year we’ve had other focuses coming into the race. I’ve had my kids and Robs her masters so the focus hasn’t been as much on the race for us as it has in the past.

“We managed to squeeze in eight days of solid training together though and did a lot of quality in those eight days. Perhaps it wasn’t as much preparation as we should have done but today was great!”

Adie and Adamová’s all-round strength caught Kime and Ulansky somewhat off-guard and has setup the women’s race perfectly to produce two fascinating days of paddling adventure.

“Abby and Anna certainly surprised us on the portages today. We knew they’d be strong but they really ran well and, as we know, they’re really strong paddlers so we’ve got a hard two days ahead of us,” said Ulansky.

“Your first goal on day two has to be just to get to the overnight stop in one piece and then the way you get there is obviously as quickly as possible.

“It’s a really long day and there is lots to day two – a lot of rapids, some flat water a couple of portages so you’ve just got to break it down because anything can happen,” she added.

A pleased Adie confirmed that she and Adamová had to find an extra gear to stay with the overnight leaders throughout stage one.

“If someone said to me yesterday we’d only be twenty-nine seconds behind I wouldn’t have thought it would have actually happened so we’re really chuffed. We very happy with how today went!” said Adie.

“Today was a hard day and we had to dig deep but everything went smoothly, apart from Anna’s fall, and we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Hopefully we have something left in the tank for the next two days.

Adamová suffered a nasty fall shortly before the end of the Finger Neck portage which resulted in her being rushed straight from the finish line to the medical tent for treatment, eventually emerging with a brave smile and eight stitches to her right knee.

“It was only fair. I have scars all over my left knee so now its 50/50 for both knees,” she laughed.

“My knee didn’t affect me at all during the race though. I couldn’t feel anything because, you know, it’s a race! I saw it was a little deep but I knew I still had to run as hard as I could.

“Before the race I was trying to run three times a week back home but it’s quite hard because its zero degrees in Czech Republic so it’s difficult to push yourself in those conditions but I think my hard work really helped today,” she added.

Under-23 sisters of Stellenbosch University, Tamika and Bianca Haw, put in a scintillating stage one effort to grind their way back from eighth place up to third by the end of the day and agreed that paddling with one another was something they both cherished.

“We’re totally out of [Kime and Ulansky and Adie and Adamová] league but we’re just paddling to have some fun and we were just lucky to come in third. It’s so nice paddling with my sister though!” said a bubbly Bianca.

“Its really special paddling Dusi with Bianca because we don’t have to worry what we say too much because, being sisters, we get over it pretty quickly,” added Tamika. “It’s great also having another girl in the canoe club because I’ve been the only girl in the club for the past four years!”

The pair’s effort is even more impressive when added to Bianca’s tremendous cycling abilities which recently saw her crowned both South African Junior Girls Road and Mountain Biking Champion as the young stars now look to do what Bianca couldn’t after her third place stage one finish in 2013 – finish on the podium in Blue Lagoon on Saturday.

“We haven’t been training like we would have wanted to as we’ve had other commitments but its been really nice being able to train together especially during the holidays,” said Bianca.

“We really hope to hold third. I didn’t hold it last year but with an experienced backseat driver behind me hopefully can hold it together,” she added.

The junior girls clash saw Camilla Pennefather and Cana Peek finish over ten minutes ahead of Sarah Harries and Julia Trodd, a difficult gap for Harries and Trodd to close should Pennefather and Peek remain upright throughout the next two days.


1.Robyn Kime/Abbey Ulansky 3:02.01
2.Abby Adie/Anna Adamova 3:02.30
3.Tamika Haw/Bianca Haw (U23) 3:16.16
4.Jen Theron/Jane Swarbreck 3:22.23
5.Hilary Bruss/Alex Adie 3:23.16
6.Carmen Donald/Debbie Germiquet 3:29.57
7.Susan Carter-Brown/Kelly Howe 3:35.24
8.Jordan Peek/Brittany Petersen (U23) 3:38.17
9.Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal (U23) 3:39.09
10.Camilla Pennefather/Cana Peek (U18) 3:39.58

Under 23 Women
1.Tamika Haw/Bianca Haw 3:16.16
2. Jordan Peek/Brittany Petersen 3:38.17
3.Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal 3:39.09

Junior Girls
1.Camilla Pennefather/Cana Peek 3:39.58
2.Sarah Harries/Julia Trodd 3:50.28
3.Saxon Kirton/Emily Stapylton-Smith 4:37.02

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Robyn Kime (front) and Abbey Ulansky (back) put in a solid performance on the first day of the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon as they came in just ahead of the chasing pair of Abby Adie and Anna Adamaova. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media