Velddrif — Defending Champion Hank McGregor cruised home to win the final stage and wrap up his 13th Berg River Canoe Marathon title on Saturday, and with it claim the 2023 South African K1 River Marathon title.
McGregor was always the man to beat, and the only times it seemed he was not on course for victory was before his last-minute entry had been submitted, and a short period on stage two when he was uncharacteristically making a series of mistakes in the tree-lined channels.
However, the Durban canoeing superstar has not won 11 world titles without overcoming some adversity along the way, so it was no surprise McGregor went on to recover from his early issues on Day 2 and win the stage by over two minutes, which in turn laid the foundation for his overall victory.
On Saturday he was appropriately the first across the line at Velddrif after the final stage, with young fellow KwaZulu-Natalian, Jeremy Maher, finishing 19 seconds behind to claim second overall after a tight race-long battle with the Eastern Cape’s Tom Lovemore, who ended up just over a minute further back on the stage and third overall.
David Evans was the first Western Cape paddler home in fourth overall after finishing the stage in the second bunch, and he also claims the SA Champs silver medal in the U23 age category. Just beating the University of Stellensbosch paddler across the line on Saturday was Daniel Jacobs, who moved up the standings on the final day to claim fifth overall and was third U23.
In the women’s race the status quo from all week was maintained on the final day with Christy Shrimpton leading Bianca Beavitt into Velddrif while Ansune Basson ended third.
It was a double, double for Shrimpton as she not only claimed the overall and U23 Berg River Marathon titles, but she also picked up the corresponding South African K1 River Marathon titles as well.
Possibly the most popular finisher at Velddrif on Saturday was the 84-year-old Jannie Malherbe. The 1963, 64 and 65 champion may have been one of the final paddlers to complete the 2023 race, but by finishing he became just the second paddler ever to complete 50 Berg River Marathons.
The only person to have finished more Bergs is Giel van Deventer who completed 51. The fact Malherbe was able to reach his milestone this year was made all the more poignant by the fact this was the first Berg to be held since Van Deventer tragically passed away last year.
Final Leading Results
(with overall and daily stage times)
1 Hank McGregor (1st SM) 17:10:16 (4:12:18, 3:13:53, 5:23:11, 4:20:52)
2 Jeremy Maher (1st U23) 17:12:52 (4:12:15, 3:16:13, 5:23:10, 4:21:11)
3 Tom Lovemore 17:14:12 (4:12:17, 3:16:12, 5:23:10, 4:22:32)
4 David Evans (2nd U23) 17:21:33 (4:12:18, 3:20:48, 5:23:12, 4:25:14)
5 Daniel Jacobs (3rd U23) 17:44:30 (4:18:04, 3:32:44, 5:28:27, 4:25:13)
6 Ant Lake 17:44:43 (4:18:02, 3:32:46, 5:28:27, 4:25:27)
7 Dyllan Farrell (4th U23) 17:54:05 (4:27:02, 3:35:50, 5:28:29, 4:25:20)
8 Kenny Rice 17:59:28 (4:18:04, 3:29:15, 5:28:28, 4:43:40)
9 Jacques Theron (2nd SM) 18:02:36 (4:18:03, 3:29:15, 5:28:29, 4:46:47)
10 Ron Benjani (Israel) 18:36:27 (4:27:01, 3:50:27, 5:35:00, 4:43:57)
1 Christy Shrimpton (1st U23) 20:36:07 (4:53:12, 4:00:46, 6:12:25, 5:29:43)
2 Bianca Beavitt 21:07:10 (5:03:01, 4:04:06, 6:23:20, 5:36:41)
3 Ansune Basson 22:17:28 (5:08:29, 4:32:55, 6:50:03, 5:45:59)