Benjano out to conquer his first Berg

Benjano out to conquer his first Berg

Having ticked off the majority of the river marathons in South Africa, Israel’s Ron Benjano has confirmed that he will be tackling the epic Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 July, hoping to check the Western Cape odyssey off his list.

The 240km race from Paarl to Veddrif on the West Coast will be unlike anything the first-year computer-science student from the University of Cape Town has done. Despite this, it’s a challenge that the 26-year-old said he couldn’t let slip.

“I was paddling a race in Scotland and met a South African who said that you are not a paddler until you have paddled the Berg!” Benjano said.

“It’s a race that has always been on my list to do because I’ve paddled the Dusi, the Fish, the Drak Challenge and the Orange Descent.

“I am really looking forward to the race even though I have no idea what to expect!”

Benjano comes from a sprinting background and has competed on the international stage for sprint canoeing. Since being in Cape Town he’s also expanded his repertoire to include surfski paddling.

Having such a wide array of skills will help Benjano, however he’s going to have to find inspiration to tackle the four days of paddling coming up in July.

“I am not really too sure how you prepare for 240km of paddling!” he said. “I am training with the Orka Squad here and there are a lot of paddlers there that have paddled a lot of Berg’s so I will be asking them for advice.

“Mentally I just know that I’ve got to keep going and it’s important that I just continue paddling when I’m out there, but I think that some races I’ve done in the past will help me in preparation for this one.”

The weather on the Berg plays a crucial part in the paddling experience over the four days and for Benjano he understands that he’s going to have to keep a close eye on the forecast.

“I have heard that it can get very cold on the water, so I am going to have to prepare for that and make sure that I have enough warm clothing!

“There are a lot of challenges and it’s one of the toughest races there is, so I am really looking forward to taking on this challenge.

“Four days of paddling is a long time but if I prepare well then I will be ready for the race,” he added.

The 2023 Berg River Canoe Marathon will take place from Paarl to Velddrif from 5 to 8 July.