Berg River Marathon canoeists celebrate the rain

European marathon champion part of 2024 line-up

While the general population in the Western Cape may not be so excited to see the soaking wet weather arrive in the province this week, the farmers are joined by the canoeing community in sending small prayers of thanks for the steady rain.

For the farmers, the annual wet season is the lifeblood of their business, while the canoeists will be hoping it means a paddling season with deep, fast-flowing water which makes for some action-packed and fun-filled weekends.

For the organisers of the annual Berg Rive Canoe Marathon, the rain could not have come at a better time. With just under a month to go until the annual four-day event from Paarl to Velddrif on July 3-6, the rivers were looking low.

Already the rains this week has meant dam levels have risen and the increased river flow bodes well for the racing season in the build up to the province’s premier river marathon event.

A spokesman for the race was clearly relieved this week and upbeat about the prospects for the Berg River Marathon.

“We were a bit worried that there may be drought conditions and the river level in the Berg would remain low throughout the winter,” he said. “But the rains this week are soaking and should have been good for the water table.

“That means that any rains we get in the next few weeks will help raise the river level and keep the rivers flowing, which obviously makes for much better conditions for the paddlers on July 3-6.”

The Western Cape river season is well underway with a couple of pre-Berg preparation races already taking place on the race course of the historic four-day event.

The recent First Ascent Paarl to Skooltjie event which takes paddlers over the first part of July’s race course, saw Thomas Lovemore and Stephanie von der Heyde claim the honours in the men’s and women’s races respectively. Last week Divieano Pietersen and Tayla Isaac emerged victorious in the Enduren Wellington to Hermon race.

This Saturday’s race from Hermon to Gouda will give paddles the first chance test the waters of the Berg with the assistance of a decent river flow.

Hank McGregor won his 13th Berg River Marathon in 2023.

Entries for the Berg River Marathon are open with a sprinkling of the country’s top competitors already included while there is an international interest with the inclusion of well-known Irish long-distance paddler, David Horkan.

Horkan is a European Marathon Champion and the 2022 winner of the prestigious Devizes to Westminster race in the United Kingdom.

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