Dusi Canoe Marathon

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Dusi Canoe Marathon
Date February
Location Pietermaritzburg/Durban, South Africa
Event type Canoe Marathon
Distance 120 kilometres (75 mi)
Established 1951
Official site The Dusi Canoe Marathon
A paddler shooting Mission Rapid during the Dusi Canoe Marathon

The Dusi Canoe Marathon is one of the world's toughest and most prestigious canoe races,[1] held over three days between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa. It is run along the Msunduzi and Mgeni Rivers over a total distance of 120 kilometres (75 mi). The race attracts between 1600 and 2000 paddlers each year, making it the biggest canoeing event on the African continent.[2]


The first recorded trip down the Dusi by boat was recorded in the Natal Witness in 1893. Two Pietermaritzburg men, Paul Marianni and William Foley, covered the distance in seven days, arriving at Blue Lagoon on 10 January 1893.[3] It was not until 1951 that a race along the river would formally be held between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The first ever Dusi Canoe Marathon was organised by Ian Player and began on 22 of December 1951. The race was held with a non-stop format and no time limit. Of the eight paddlers that entered the race: Ian Player, Miles Brokensha, Ernie Pearce, John Naude, Basil Halford, Willie Potgieter, Fred Schmidt and Denis Vorster only Player finished the race in a time of 6 days, 8 hours and 15 minutes.[4] The canoes used in the first race were made from wood and canvas and weighed 32 kilograms (71 lb). The paddlers also had to carry all the supplies they needed in order to complete the race.

The first three day race was held in 1956 with changes being made made to the format over fears for paddler safety when paddling at night.

Current Race[edit]

The Dusi Canoe Marathon is now held over a period of three days, with each day having a defined beginning and end. The average finishing time for top teams is under than 9 hours.

The race begins at the Natal Canoe Club at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg. The first stage from Camps Drift to Dusi Bridge is 42 kilometres (26 mi) and includes 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of portaging with the canoe. The 46 kilometres (29 mi) second stage from Dusi Bridge to Inanda Dam is considered the longest and hardest stage of the race. This stage includes confluence of the Mgeni and Msundusi Rivers and a 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) flatwater paddle across the dam. The third stage from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon in Durban is the shortest, being only 36 kilometres (22 mi), however it still contains a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) flatwater paddle across the lagoon. The finish of the race is held at the Kingfisher Canoe Club.[2]

Competitors may compete in either a K1 or K2 canoe, however the championship alternates between those two categories and only paddlers competing in the correct craft are eligible to win.

The Race Organisers[edit]

The Race is organised by the Natal Canoe Club, a club affiliated to Canoeing South Africa and consisting of approximately 450 members. The club is based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The clubhouse is located on the banks of the Msunduzi River, at the exact start point of the race.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Reddy, Sheldon. "The greatest canoe race on earth". doitnow.co.za. DO IT NOW Magazine. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "About The Dusi Canoe Marathon". dusi.co.za. Dusi Canoe Marathon. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "The mysterious duo of Marianni and Foley". dusi.co.za. Dusi Canoe Marathon. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "History". dusi.co.za. Dusi Canoe Marathon. Retrieved 1 October 2014.