The organisers of the Berg River Canoe Marathon from 7 to 10 July this year have heaped praise on the recent MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon that was successfully staged against a strict set of Covid-19 lockdown protocols, paving the way for the eagerly anticipated 60th anniversary of the four-day race from Paarl to Velddrif.
“We watched the roll-out of the MyLife Dusi with great interest and we were thrilled to see them pull off a very successful Dusi with adherence to all of the rules and regulations,” said Berg organiser Brandon Macleod.
“The collaboration between Canoeing South Africa, the local union and the organisers proved that it is possible to stage a major paddling event that is fully compliant with every tier of regulations in place at that time and to assure the safety and well-being of every participant and their support crew.
“It was an exceptional achievement and we take great encouragement as we put our heads down to organise what is going to be a big milestone edition of the Berg marathon,” he added.
The MyLife Dusi negotiated a sweeping set of protocols in collaboration with Canoeing South Africa and their local authorities that included strict requirements for participants and their technical support to wear masks, be regularly screened and to sanitise their hands, to arrive just before their batch starts and leave as soon after each stage was completed.
“A lot of those protocols will be easily adapted to the Berg where smaller, staggered batches and the long-distance nature of the race means that sufficient safe proximity between paddlers is a given,” he added.
“We accept that spectators will not be allowed under the current Covid regulations and that the designated technical support person allocated to each paddler will only have limited, controlled access to the start and finish and a number of points on the river each day.
“We saw at the Dusi that even paddlers that have done the race dozens of times were capable of adapting to these changes, ensuring that they had a safe and pleasant race,” he added.
“The Dusi proved that while they had to drop things like the social events and prize-givings, it was still a thoroughly successful event.
“In fact, many paddlers who took part remarked that the event stripped to its basic essentials and raced in smaller groups focussed attention on the athletes and the valleys that they paddle through during the race and made it a great race built on the original core values of the event.
“As we celebrate sixty years since that first group of pioneers set off from Paarl for the West Coast, staging a Berg trimmed of some of the peripheral events that it has accumulated over time could be equally rewarding for the paddlers,” he added.
“With the KZN river season completed now, the 60th Berg in the second week of July will be the next major river race on the calendar, and as we negotiate the next waves of the pandemic, the recent Dusi inspires us to deliver what will be a memorable anniversary edition of the Berg, particularly after we were forced to cancel the race last year.”
Macleod said that they were engaging with the regional authorities and local municipalities to firm up the practical details, including overnight accommodation for the paddlers and their technical support crews.