Berg River Canoe Marathon Media Release

 No: Berg2122

3 Aug 2021

    Embargo : None

Written By : Dave Macleod


A men's race like no other for Berg 2021

Paarl - This year's Berg River Canoe Marathon will see a men's field like no other when a swathe of former champions and young hopefuls line-up for a shot at the raceís 60th title from 5-8 August.

After eleven-time winner Hank McGregor, now 42 years old, submitted his entry it added another level of prestige to the men's race, the last minute entry from the ever-green Graeme Solomon has tipped the title race into uncharted territory.

McGregor is the raceís most decorated champion, having won it eleven times and is the current holder of the overall race record from his 2008 victory, and after fifteen months of lockdown that have stifled his competitive ambitions, the Durbanite is hungry for a twelfth title, particularly with the Covid cloud of doubt hanging over the remainder of the yearís international competition calendar.

The Euro Steel ace first triumphed as a 22-year-old in 2000, and has been the dominant force in every year that he has raced the famous four-stage race from Paarl to Velddrif. But for his fourteenth Berg he will find himself under more pressure than ever before to return to the top step of the podium.

The man he partnered to the World Championships K2 title in Portugal in 2018 Andy Birkett is himself a former Berg champion, having added his name to the trophy in 2014, and as part of the new Kindo-backed reciprocity with the MyLife Dusi, Birkett will return with renewed determination, particularly after the drama at the national marathon championships in Cape Town in May.

Considered a shoe-in for the national team to be named for the world champs in Romania in September, Birkett was sensationally edged out of the top two places in the senior menís singles race, and suffered the same fate in the doubles race the following day.

With the world champs now out of the equation, the East Londoner had little hesitation in shifting his attention to the 60th anniversary edition of the Berg, with its lucrative prize pool, but more importantly, the prospect of racing one of the strongest elite fields ever assembled for the race.

2001 champion and perennial podium finisher Solomon will always add another exciting string to the competitive bow of the Berg. With knowledge almost second-to-none on this stretch of river, he will forever remain a threat to anyone looking for the overall title.

These hopefuls will find another man on the start line that has tasted success as a K2 marathon world champion with McGregor in Paarl on Thursday morning in Jasper Mockť, keen to return to the Berg podium. But perhaps the biggest threat to that podium will come from McGregorís regular training partner from the MacSquad based at Blue Lagoon in Durban, Hamish Lovemore.

Lovemore won the Berg team title in 2019 in Tyron Maher, a win that has propelled his paddling career to new heights. The Under 23 speedster was the stand-out performer at the SA Marathon Champs at Zandvlei earlier this year where he won the Under 23 K1 title before dethroning McGregor in the senior menís title race and then added the senior K2 title to a staggering cleansweep at the Vlei.

Lovemore gravitates naturally to the tougher endurance elements demanded from the Berg, and with his youth and his big training base, accumulated river knowledge and his Durban training partner at his side, he will pose a serious threat to the top step of the podium.

Two former winners of the Berg are likely to feature in the enlarged front bunch in the early stages of the race as Jacques Theron and Robbie Herreveld both make returns to the race they dominated in their youth.

Also vying for a place on their front bunch will be talented youngsters Luke Swinney from East London, local Bartho Visser, Capetonian Anders Hart and the perennial Berg challenger Heinrich Schloms.

Joining the list of former winners on the start line in Paarl is the remarkable Jannie Malherbe. Part of the inaugural Berg in 1962 the 82-year-old winner of a hat-trick of Bergs from 1963 to 1965 will be starting his 48th Berg.

More information can be found at www.berg.org.za

Social media : #Berg2021 #60thBerg

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Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on white - JPeg  
Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on transparent background - PNG  
Could a record twelfth title be on the cards for Hank McGregor at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
MyLife Dusi chasmp Andy Birkett will get a chance at a second title at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August through the Kindo-backed Berg:Dusi reciprocity agreement. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
After winning the 2019 competition in the team race Hamish Lovemore returns to the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August as the defending champion. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
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