Under 23 paddling star Christie Mackenzie is considering a trip to Underberg for the 2020 N3TC Drak Challenge, in partnership with FNB, but will have to do some juggling to fit in her academic programme and the race, which begins the week of the Southern Drakensberg classic, from 1-2 February.
The Varsity College student finished fourth in the 2019 Drak behind a strong top three of Abby Solms, 2018 champion Jenna Ward and Bridgitte Hartley.
Mackenzie says to race against someone like eight-time winner Solms was a privilege.
Experience and ability
“It is always fantastic to learn from someone who has so much experience and ability,” Mackenzie said. “She just lifts the level of women’s paddling.
“At Dusi this year (2019) I was lucky enough to have her as one of my seconds, and it was great to have her in my corner for once.
“I spent a lot of my childhood in Underberg as my grandparents lived up there, so I have fond memories of the area and the river,” said the 21-year-old.
“I will definitely be up there for the Fast Drak but I am going to have to make a plan to be at the Drak,” she added.
With two seconds to show for her 2017 and 2018 efforts at the Dusi, Mackenzie is determined to go one better at the iconic three-day event from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
“I really want to win the Dusi, but I am going to race as hard as I can and hopefully that will be enough!
“I also like to chase more than be the person being chased but we’ll just see how it pans out and I hope I am in with a chance of winning come the end of day three!” she emphasised in a recent article on the Dusi Canoe Marathon’s website.
“I have got to minimise my mistakes if I am going to win,” she said candidly. “I find that when I become tired I start to make some silly little errors which can cause a bit of panic.
“Going into the 2019 Dusi I want to be able to know where I am going and have a much better plan in place.
The N3TC Drak Challenge canoe marathon takes place in Underberg on February 1 and 2, 2020.
– Gameplan Media and dusi.co.za