Western Cape – The 55th annual Berg River Canoe Marathon took place from Wednesday 13th July to Saturday 16th July 2016 and saw paddlers from all over the world competing in the 4-day stage race covering 240 km from Paarl to Velddrif in the Western Cape.
It was a warm winter’s day in the Swartland for the first stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, matched with some heated racing on tough, low-water river conditions that eventually saw defending champions, Hank McGregor, set up an overnight lead after the 62km first stage.
With an eleventh Berg title in his sights, McGregor also claimed the first-to-bridge prize at the Hermon Bridge, going into the second stage of the race with a significant advantage in that he takes with him his time trial winning margin, which took his overall lead over Simon van Gysen to just 20 seconds, with Adrian Boros in third place overall, despite his second place finish on the Wednesday.
On Day Two, McGregor, with a lead of 20 seconds over Van Gysen, cut his head open on a branch – an accident, which opened a one minute gap for Van Gysen to get ahead. McGregor caught Van Gysen as they made their way from Zonquasdrift to Bridgetown, but the last two kilometres made all the difference. McGregor powered through to the finish as a tired Van Gysen was unable to keep up. The Hungarian, Adrian Boros, battled with the stage, allowing McGregor to gain a solid lead.
McGregor said: “I knew in the last few kilometres that I had to put the hammer down and I got a bit of a gap and I am happy with the result and another stage win”.
The infamous 72km third stage of the 2016 Berg River Canoe Marathon saw plenty of drama as the international duo of Adrian Boros and Petr Mojžíšek matched McGregor right up to the final end sprint.
The 72km stage from Bridgetown to Zoutkloof threatened to produce the goods following an exciting bunch start in the morning, which set off at a blistering pace, and the front group of four, McGregor, Boros, Mojžíšek, and local, Edgar Boehm Jnr, opened a significant gap at the first portage at the Misverstand Dam wall.
Said McGregor “A 72km stage is never going to be easy and it hurts, it doesn’t matter who you are. I was just really chuffed to be on the front bunch and I appreciated the great sportsmen that I was racing with.”
Despite the running repairs overnight, Jeep Team /Euro Steel/Kayak Centre star, Hank McGregor, won a well-contested end sprint on Friday’s stage 3, and with it, cemented his place at the front of the race for stage 4’s final 60 kilometre into Velddrif, the final hurdle between him and an eleventh Berg title.
Reaching the final day of the Berg River Marathon, McGregor started with a seven minute advantage, and this was enough to cement his eleventh Berg title win. The world champion paddler was seldom seen alone in the stages of the race, but he managed to take the lead from the time trial to the end keeping a consistent speed throughout the marathon, leading to his eleventh Berg River Canoe Marathon title victory.
Concluded McGregor, “It’s not every day that you race against guys that you raced against in separate World Championships where they both came second behind me, but this year’s race was definitely a prestigious one with a couple world champions and a couple world champ medallists on the start line.”
1 HANK MCGREGOR 4:28:59.88
2 SIMON VAN GYSEN 4:29:22.80
3 ADRIAN BOROS 4:29:41.19
1 HANK MCGREGOR 3:26:16.40
2 SIMON VAN GYSEN 3:27:11.00
3 ADRIAN BOROS 3:42:21.05
1 HANK MCGREGOR 5:24:50.77
2 SIMON VAN GYSEN 5:31:10.71
3 ADRIAN BOROS 5:24:55.20
1 HANK MCGREGOR 4:17:32.49
2 SIMON VAN GYSEN 4:17:34.03
3 ADRIAN BOROS 4:20:25.98
1 HANK MCGREGOR 17:37:39.55
2 SIMON VAN GYSEN 17:45:18.55
3 ADRIAN BOROS 17:57:23.43