Isuzu Berg River Canoe Marathon  Media Release

 No: Berg0912

18 July 2009

Hank McGregor wins record-equalling sixth  Berg River Canoe Marathon title

Hank McGregor paddled his way into the canoeing record books when he equalled Robbie Herreveld's six victories in the Berg River Canoe Marathon by wrapping up the 2009 title in emphatic style, while the enthralling women's race went the way of nineteen year old debutant Robyn Kime on another day of high drama.

Then outcome of the race was clouded in controversy as the race jury heard several appeals against the use of shortcuts in the river and portages that might have been in conflict with the race rules, before the final result was ratified.

Starting in a massed start for the 56 kilometre final stage from Zoutkloof to the West Coast fishing town of Velddrif, all McGregor had to do was stay with the front bunch to secure his overall race victory. After a flawless day on a full river, McGregor sprinted away from a six boat bunch in the closing stages to cross the finish line alone where he celebrated his sixth title in style.

"This is such a special race to take part in, let alone to win," said McGregor. "The obstacles and the sheer distances of each stage makes it the toughest race I have ever done. Ever since I was kid growing up in the Cape I wanted to do this race, and dreamt of possibly winning it."

McGregor also savoured the shared record with "King of the Berg" Robbie Herreveld. "It's fantastic to share his record," said McGregor. "Simply to be mentioned in the same sentence as Robbie is an honour and a privilege. Maybe he will make a comeback next year and we can race it together!"

His finish was more dramatic than anticipated, as he saw a five hundred metre lead that he had worked hard for in his solo charge evaporate as the five chasers took a short-cut on the long final loop in the river before Velddrif.

"For the start of the race, this sneak channel was banned," said a clearly frustrated McGregor. "When I got to Oordraplek I double-checked with the race official, who told me that we had to stay in the main channel, which is what I did. I was very surprised to see the five boat chasing bunch suddenly arrive on my tail a hundred metres behind me at the finish."

The full river also caused some anxious moments for the front bunch as they charged down the full river and across flooded vleis. "It was a bit nerve racking," admitted McGregor. "At one stage we got stuck in a fence and had to break the wire to get free. We then ran out of water and had to carry our boats for two hundred metres to get back into the river."

The second place for King is his best ever paddling result. "I am over the moon," bubbled the Milnerton ace. "I have paid my dues on this race, taken more than my fair share of wrong channels, and had my share of admin. So to have it all come together like this feels very special."

The women's race has captivated the race's followers for all four days of the ultra-marathon. Pre-race favourite Robyn Kime was on the back foot after a series of disasters on the critical first stage left her nearly five minute adrift of Milnerton star Lindi-May Harmsen. That lead was whittled down to fifty two seconds by the time the two women started side-by-side in the massed start for the final stage of the race.

Harmsen however made a critical error - her first of the race - by taking a channel that proved to be a long-way around a bend, leaving the door open for Kime to scamper away to claim victory in the women's race by six minutes, and to become only the fourth women in the history of the race to win it on debut.

"Obviously I am disappointed," said Harmsen. "For a while I could see Robyn (Kime) ahead of me after she got a lead when we went over some fences, but them all of a sudden she was gone. But full credit to her, she paddled like a steam train today."

McGregor and King paved the way for their Team Epic to claim the team prize comfortably, with fellow team mates Pieter-Willem Basson and Heinrich Schloms all finishing in the top five, ensuring victory over Solomon's Team Roamer Rand.

The end of the race was dogged by some heated debate over the use by some paddlers of a portage at Rietdakhuis that had been disallowed before the days stage started. The very full river also created opportunities for paddlers to leave the river banks and paddle across vleis, often with no guarantee that they would be able to get back into the main flow of the river.

Pierre-Andre Rabie was the first Under 21 paddler to cross the line, finishing in sixth place, while Joseph Williams took the juniors title in 51st place overall.

The race also saw two paddlers race into a unique slice of Berg River Canoe Marathon history when they became the first paddlers to complete forty of these tough ultra-marathons. Andre Collins and Giel van Deventer both completed their fortieth races with hitch free final stages to Velddrif, where they both received heroes welcomes.

"This has got to be one of the best Bergs ever," enthused Collins. "The weather and water has been magnificent - warm, blue skies and a full river. I had the pleasure paddling with Willem van Riet (who took part in the first ever Berg in 1962) on the third stage and we agreed that this has been one of the best."

Collins was quick to congratulate Giel van Deventer when he made it to the finish and promised to share a "bottle of great twenty year old" with him after the race.

1.Hank McGregor (1:56.10) 13:22.54
2.Lance King (1:56.45) 13:25.58
3.Graeme Solomon (1:57.02) 13:32.04
4.Pieter-Willem Basson (1:57:00) 13:33.54
5.Heinrich Schloms (1:56.45) 13:37.27
6.Pierre Andre Rabie  (1:57.08) 13:44.43
7.Ernest van Riet (2:15.32) 14:02.05
Edgar Boehm Jnr (2:15.32) 14:03.10
9.Andrew Birkett (2:15.33) 14:10.53
10.Cornelius Human (2:15.34) 14:14.05
11.Ryno Armdorf (2:19.39) 14:23.33
12.Nick Longley (2:19.38) 14:23.41
13.Mynhardt Marais (2:19.38) 14:28.44
14.Louw Van Riet (2:20.13) 14:33.06
15.Dane Sanvido (2:20.26) 14:37.28
16.Gregory Smith (2:23.09) 14:39.41
17.Roland Smith (2:23.08) 14:40.02
18.Daan du Toit (2:27.09) 14:43.37
19.Chris de Waal (2:20.14) 14:44.33
20.Willem van Riet Jnr (2:20.25) 14:54.55
1.Robyn Kime (2:28.12) 15:26.07
2.Lindi-May Harmsen (2:35.08) 15:32.11 

3.Jemma Hofmeyer (2:28.53) 15:50.08
4.Angie Gafney (2:32.09) 16:15.34
5.Lisa Scott (2:32.56) 16:23.21

More information can be found at



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hi-res pic)
Caption Photographer Click HERE to download  hi-res pic
Hank McGregor celebrates his sixth victory in the Berg River Canoe Marathon, equalling Robbie Herreveld's record of wins. On the podium with him are Lance King (left) and Graeme Solomon (right)

John Hishin/
Drumbeat Photography

The top three women celebrate at the end of the final stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, (from left) Jemma Hofmeyer, Robyn Kime and Lindi-May Harmsen

John Hishin/
Drumbeat Photography

The start of the final stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon.

John Hishin/
Drumbeat Photography

Andy Barnes, the only finisher in the annual Freedom Challenge, is congratulated by well wishers at the end of the Berg River Canoe Marathon.

John Hishin/
Drumbeat Photography

Berg River Canoe Marathon 2009 Logo 
Horizontal on white - JPeg

Berg River Canoe Marathon 2009 Logo
Horizontal on black - 

Berg River Canoe Marathon 2009 Logo
Square on white -  JPeg

Berg River Canoe Marathon 2009 Logo
Square on black -  JPeg
A selection of other archive images is available at here

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