Durban - Andy Birkett’s dream race continued on the final day of The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon as he managed to keep the vastly experienced Ant Stott at bay and eventually out sprint the four-time winner to cross the line at Blue Lagoon in Durban in first place by the narrowest of margins the 60 year-old race has ever seen.

The two shared the lead almost the entire way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban and, with 118km of tough racing over three energy sapping days not even being enough to separate these two incredible athletes, it all came down to the final few metres before a victor emerged.

“It’s just incredible! Winning in a K1 is so special,” said a hugely satisfied Birkett. “There’s no one else in the boat, it’s just you. There’s no one there to help motivate you or pick you up when you’re tired so to win today after three long days is just fantastic.”

Stott started the day with a slender one second advantage over Birkett but soon he’d increased that to a healthy 45 seconds at the put in at Tops Needle after he managed to tag onto a wave of a passing boat towards the end of the dam.

A strong performance by Stott leading up to the infamous Burma Road meant that he'd increased his lead even further to two minutes at the take out. However the resilient Birkett wasn’t about to give up and he powered up Burma Road portage at an incredible pace to ultimately open up a 45 second lead of his own at the put in.

The two Maritzburg College Old Boys then negotiated the troublesome hyacinth near the Papwa Sewgolum golf course together but it was straight back to business after that.

Michael Mbanjwa had long forgotten his disappointing Day One and looked to continue in the same vein as he’d finished Day Two yesterday.

But Michael was too far ahead and I’m just really happy with how the race went for me,” said fourth place finisher Eric Zondi.

Robyn Kime could afford to back off slightly in the ladies race after she opened up a massive lead of 17 minutes over the first two days.
The young Maties student finished 20 minutes ahead of Abby Adie and in so doing broke both the U21 Girls stage and the overall record by minutes and minutes respectively. Birkett had record of his own as he broke the overall record in the U21 Boys category.

Murray Haw fought hard for the Junior Boys’ title and despite a strong performance by Gavin Shuter it wasn’t enough and Haw cruised to victory. Murray’s younger sister Bianca looked in complete control of the Junior Girls’ category throughout the three days and she walked away comfortable winner after crossing the line two seconds ahead of her older sister Tamika.

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1.Andrew Birkett (U21) 8:06.08
2.Ant Stott 8:06.09
3.Michael Mbanjwa 8:15.22
4.Eric Zondi 8:22.22
5.Hank McGregor 8:26.23
6.Lance Kime (U21) 8:26.29
7.Len Jenkins 8:46.44
8.Piers Cruickshanks 8:48.19
9.Mark Mulder 8:53.31
10.Shaun Griffin 8:53.32
11.Kwanda Mhlophe (U21) 8:55.03
12.Thomas Ngidi 8:58.37
13.Nhlanhlayakhe Cele (U21) 9:03.19
14.Richard Fly9:04.14
15.John Ngcobo 9.04.15
16.Ben Biggs (U21) 9:06.41
17.Zonele Nzuza 9:06.43
18.Richard Cele 9:06.47
19.Marc Germiquet 9:06.48
20.Craig Carter-Brown 9:07.47

1.Robyn Kime (U21) 9:37.33
2.Abby Adie 9:58.14
3.Hilary Pitchford 10:19.37

Junior Boys
1.Murray Haw 9:10.59

Junior Girls
1.Bianca Haw (U16) 11:07.59