Danish paddler Susan Lützner will bring an international flavour to the Berg River Canoe Marathon from 7 to 10 July when she makes her debut on the tough 240 kilometre paddle from Paarl to Velddrif, as she continues her love affair with South African canoeing events.
The Danish masters-age-group paddler has already done the N3TC Drak Challenge and the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathons, where she learnt about the respect local paddlers have for the challenge of the Berg Marathon.
“After paddling the Drak Challenge in 2020 with Ben Bradford, I absolutely fell in love with the South African paddling community, culture, and rivers and knew that I just had to come back. Many paddlers suggested the Berg Canoe Marathon, as this is one of the most famous South African river races,” said Lützner.
“This year, I was very lucky to race the Dusi Canoe Marathon with Trent Lamble as my K2 partner, which was yet another amazing adventure for me; grooming my desire for more!
“By now, I’ve been a paddler for three years, but obviously I’m not a ‘real paddler’, until I’ve done the Berg, so I decided to place my entry back in 2020, but then couldn’t paddle the race due to Covid.
Hoping to become the first Dane to get a Berg medal, Lützner is fully aware that she has to do plenty of mileage in training to be in shape to enjoy the experience.
“I’m slightly scared of the distance, but I will give it all I have! Mostly, I’m afraid of getting lost on the river,” she said.
“As a warm-up for the race, I paddled the Berg Ultra Paddle in May, finishing with 478 km. This weekend, I paddled the one-day 100 km Vohandu Canoe Marathon in Estonia and actually won the Women’s K1 race,” she said. “I expect Berg River to be quite similar to Vohandu, but we’ll see.”
As a Berg novice Lützner will be hoping to get some help from fellow paddlers around her, willing to show her the lines through the tree blocks and channels that characterise the Berg, and is counting on the friendliness of the South African paddlers.
“Being a world traveller, I’ve found the South Africans to be some of the most warm-hearted people in the world, which is quite an accomplishment.
“I find the South African nature spectacular with the beautiful setting of rivers, mountains and the ocean. Denmark doesn’t have mountains at all, and our rivers are all flat.
“Don’t say the Berg is flat, when you don’t know what flatwater is!
“Still, we do have great paddling options, and we will host World Championship in Sprints this year and the Marathon World Championship in 2023, so I’m hoping we’ll host many South Africans here!”
Coming from the Danish summer to the middle of the Cape Winter won’t be too much of a jolt for Lützner as she had to train through one of the coldest winters in Denmark for her Dusi Marathon earlier in the year.