WHEN THE WATER GETS ROUGH, PADDLE ON, PADDLE ON Tracey and Bridgitte in action at the 50 miler canoe marathon. Photo: Supplied

Matie and medallist face the Dusi

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.”

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