Not so long ago, I had the privilege of heading into the Umkomaas Vally to cover to 2023 edition of the Still Umko Canoe Marathon.
It was my first time covering this particular race, which always brings its new set of nerves but also a great deal of excitement.
Dustin Weber(videographer) and myself departed from Durban at around 4am to make sure we got to the start and to have enough time to scope out the situation for the weekend.
This years event brought some new and exciting changes, with the addition of a trail run. A small but brave group of runners gathered on the start line whilst the canoeists were getting ready to head down the river.
There were 2 clear sides that I noticed for the competitions, the side which saw excitement about what lay in store and the other which showed absolute nerves after hearing how big the rapids would be.
The day went off with a bang! lots of laughter and smiles by many all the way down the river. It was great to see the majority of paddlers arrive safely at the end of day 1, a lot exhausted, but absolutely loved the thrill and adventure.
The athletes got a taste of some local entertainment in the evening as well as a spectacular sunset, which allowed them to relax and detox from a great day on the river.
Day 2 brought a whole new adventure, where paddlers needed to depart from the camp up river as they would be finishing where day 1 had started. Made from another early morning but it was great to see so much enthusiasm from all the athletes.
The river on day 2 was a bit more of a challenge, as a lot of it was totally inaccessible, or if it was it would take you ages to get there and by the time you did the action had passed.
This been said we made a plan, and made the most out of what we could! Was so awesome to see so many finishing the race and even some wanting to go back for more! Congratulations to all the winners and finishers.