With the countdown to the 2018 Berg River Canoe Marathon ticking away, Berg icon Graeme Solomon has thrown down the gauntlet by confirming a team entry with the defending champion Adrián Boros of Hungary for mid-July’s four day showdown.
The race has been retooled to focus on a new team format that will see the competitive spoils awarded to pairs of athletes, introducing a new dynamic to the 57 year old Cape race.
Solomon, a former winner and the runner up to Boros last year, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the new team format, and was intrigued to get a message from Boros in Hungary when the new team format was unveiled, asking for more details.
“Yes, Team Bamboo Warehouse will be myself and Adrián,” beamed Solomon, adding that the new team format totally changed the approach of top international athletes to the race, and athletes from other provinces.
“It suits us down to the ground because Adrián will be arriving the day before the race. Normally he would have had to be here for at least a week beforehand to learn the river.”
Solomon explained that after Boros had messaged him, he had cautiously made the offer to the Hungarian world number three.
“I messaged him back three weeks later saying I was keen to join him in a team, and was delighted when he messaged right back accepting,” said Solomon.
He added that this will open doors to other paddlers who found the intricacies and tactics of the Berg a little intimidating.
“Now you can come into the race with no local knowledge but a decent base, and be competitive. Not only that but you learn the race and river in the process, which will bring that paddler back for more in future years,” said Solomon.
“That is what I would have done if Adrián hadn’t agreed to paddle with me – take a young buck under my wing and teach them about the Berg,” he said.
He added that the Berg podium will continue to be under threat from international paddlers.
“I hear that there are a few other top internationals coming out, some of them know the river now and others are really strong paddlers.
“It is time for the better local paddlers to start looking at confirming team mates for the race, because there will be water, of that I am really confident, and there will be some serious racing as well,” he added.
Normal entries are now being taken online at www.berg.org.za until Wednesday 27 June after which a R250 late entry penalty will apply.