Berg River Canoe Marathon Media Release

 No: Berg2127

8 Aug 2021

    Embargo : None

Written By : Dave Macleod


Drama-laced Berg belongs to the Birketts


Velddrif – Andy Birkett prevailed to win the 60th edition of the Berg River canoe marathon while his wife Nikki Birkett won the women's race but in sharply contrasting fashion.

Andy Birkett grabbed a two minute lead on the second stage when McGregor made an error in a tree-block and managed to retain that advantage for the remainder of the race, despite McGregor continually trying to claw back into the contest.

After three days of racing in sublime weather and river conditions, the arrival of a cold front on Sunday, combined with a strong incoming tide made the last 60km kilometre stage brutally tough for all the paddlers.

McGregor won the stage honours, bring his total number of stage wins to three, but the tenacious Burkett was right on his wave as they raced into Velddrif, and he claimed a second Berg title to go with his 2014 victory.

"It was such a tough race. Racing against Hank and Hamish was really hard. Hank is always trying to get the better of you but what I really enjoy about these guys is that the racing is hard but always very fair," said Birkett.

"Congratulations to Andy (Birkett). I threw everything and the kitchen sink at him and he kept coming back. I am stoked to get three stage wins but it wasn't enough," said a gracious McGregor.

Hamish Lovemore wrapped up the men's podium, the 2019 champion getting just reward for his consistent form during the race.

The evergreen double Berg winner Graeme Solomon got stronger as the race progressed and leap-frogged up to fourth on the final standings.

Dyllan Farrell signalled his arrival on the competitive stage with a solid victory in the junior division, while this challenger Luke Swinney sacrificed his bid when he got involved in the rescue of a paddler in distress early on in the final stage.

After thrilling the race over the first three stages, Paarl prodigy Luke Stowman had to give up his hard-earned fourth place when he fell ill with gastric problems, and he withdrew at Kersefontein just an hour into the final stage.

The women's race ended shrouded in high drama as the race leader Nikki Birkett inexplicably followed a group of paddlers that doubled back after the portage at Oordraplek, adding six kilometers to her stage.

She was passed by second placed Jordan Peek and third placed Bianca Beavitt, who then made exactly the same mistake, but managed to turn back once the realised their error.

That threw the race standings into disarray, and once Birkett had come to terms with her mistake she charged into the tide, oncoming waves and gale force winds and ,managed to finish with her race-winning lead intact.

In the end her superior strength in the tough conditions came to the fore and she came into the finish of the Eigevis final stage relieved, to be welcomed by her elated husband.

"It was awful and I got very despondent," said Nikki Birkett. "Once I had some more juice and and some food I just put the hammer down.

"I didn't actually know where the other two women were and it was quite confusing. I am so relieved it worked out because we have worked so hard for this," she added.

The wins make the Birketts the first husband and wife paddlers to win the Berg title.

Later in the afternoon Giel van Deventer set a notable record when he came home to earn his 50th Berg medal.

"This was a long journey to get to fifty medals," said an emotional van Deventer, who finished alongside 82 year-old Jannie Malherbe, who was completing his 48th Berg.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHON DAY FOUR
Overall
1.Andy Birkett 4:29:55 17:27:24
2.Hank McGregor 4:29:54 17:29:30
3.Hamish Lovemore 4:30:22 17:40:05
4.Graeme Solomon 4:32:3418:00:59
5.Wayne Jacobs 4:39:59 18:06:59
6.Alex Masina 4:32:28 18:17:06
7.Paul Marais 4:46:27 18:21:28
8.Jasper Mocké  4:32:31 18:23:59
9.Anders Hart 4:46:25 18:39:50
10.Heinrich Schloms 4:41:09 18:43:20
Women
1.Nikki Birkett 5:36:21 20:40:54
2.Jordan Peek 5:45:05 20:56:38
3.Bianca Beavitt 5:41:05 21:23:45
4.Tracey Oellerman 5:57:57 21:43:57
5.Robyn Henderson 5:48:24 22:09:46

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

Social media : #Berg2021 #60thBerg

Photo
(click to download
hi-res pic)
Caption Photographer Click HERE to download  hi-res pic
Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on white - JPeg  
Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on transparent background - PNG  
Andy Birkett has won the 2022 Berg River Canoe Marathon. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Hank McGregor (right) wins the endsprint over Andy Birkett at the end of the final stage of the 2022 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Sunday. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Hank McGregor gets a pat on the back from race winner Andy Birkett after the final stage of the 2022 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Sunday. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Nikki Birkett powers home to win the women's race at the 2022 Berg River Canoe Marathon. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
An elated Jordan Peek wraps up the runners-up berth in the women's race at the 2022 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Sunday. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Giel van Deventer (left) received his commemorative race number from WCCU Chair Rob Hart at the end of his 50th Berg River Canoe Marathon. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Giel van Deventer (right, completing his fiftieth Berg) shakes hands with Jannie Malherbe after the final stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon on Sunday. John Hishin/
Gameplan Media
Husband-and-wife paddling stars Andy and Nikki Birkett are the first married couple to win the Berg River Canoe Marathon. Dave Macleod/
Gameplan Media
Conditions of usage of photographs: All photographs supplied and hyperlinked herewith may be used free of charge, with full credit to the photographer and agency as provided. The photographs may not be modified or retouched in any way, but may be cropped to suit the layout requirements of the publications. The photographs provided may be used exclusively for editorial purposes, and may be reprinted in any newspaper, magazine, television programme or on any website. These photographs may not be used for any commercial or promotional purpose, including but not limited to posters, advertisements, commercials, promotional email correspondence, point-of-sale material or any retail promotion. Should such usage be desired, please contact us at the details below.
Is this of no value to you?
This media release is intended for use by media professionals covering this specific activity or sport. Should this release not be relevant you, please advise us immediately and we will be glad to remove your name from this particular database. It would be useful to us if you could advise us which subjects you would like to continue receiving releases on.
For any further information, or if you cannot access the images, please contact:
Gameplan Media
(031) 764 3017