BY KESIA ABRAHAMS
Tracey Oellermann, a BA (Sports Science) student, will be taking part in the Dusi Canoe Marathon, a three-day race, from 27 to 29 February 2020 in KwaZulu-Natal. Oellermann will be participating in the race alongside Bridgitte Hartley, a South African sprint canoer and Olympic metalist.
In 2009, Hartley won a bronze medal in the K-1 1000m event at the 2009 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Dartmouth followed by another bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Hartley’s partner from two years ago decided not to take part in the upcoming Dusi alongside Hartley which lead her to Oellermann.
“The Dusi is a three-day race, forty kilometers each day and a lot of running with the boat so she was looking for a paddler that is quite strong and also can run, and one of my strengths is running,” said Oellerman.
This is not their first race together. In 2019, Oellermann wanted to take part in a 20km but did not have partner. “I asked her if she wanted to do it and we did it together and paddled really nicely so when she was deperately looking for a partner, we decided to do it,” said Oellermann. “I’ve learnt so much paddling with her, and I’ve gotten so much stronger since paddling with her,” said Oellermann.
Oellermann, started canoeing in her first year at Epworth High School. Epworth is the top canoeing school in the country. “In grade ten and eleven, I started taking it more seriously and I did my first Dusi,” said Oellerman. This will be Oellermann’s fourth Dusi race but doing the Dusi, especially as a student has not been easy
“Training for this race has been quite a big commitment, you start in November, so its four or five months completely committed to training,” said Oellermann. While in Stellenbosch, Oellermann trains at a dam that is 6km outside of Stellenbosch that is only a one km lap.
“Majority of my training is done in KZN through the holidays and it’s better training grounds,” said the KwaZulu-Natal local. Oellermann despite hopping between two provinces manages to train all year round.
In a seven-day week, Oellermann trains twice a day. Her training involves an 8km run every morning at 5:00 and a minimum of an hour paddling session in the afternoon. “It’s definitely nice that I had the holidays to train because now coming back to varsity, you feel like you’re getting sick because you can’t keep up,” said Oellermann. Nevertheless, she is both nervous and excited for the race.
“This year’s Dusi is going to be one of the most competitive Dusi’s that they’ve had in the past 25 years so it’s definitely going to be a big challenge.”