N3TC Drak Challenge
McGregor hits form ahead of Drak Challenge
Underberg – Ten time world champion Hank McGregor showed ominous signs of
his best form on the weekend as he won his second title at the tough 60km
FastDrak race in the build-up to the important N3TC Drak Challenge on 20 and
A relaxed and measured McGregor mastered the low uMzimkhulu River and the
challenges from several elite races to canter home to win the endurance
outing that covers the full course of the two-day Drak Challenge in a
solitary outing, with two added portages.
"It was so good to be able to race the entire Drak course against such
a strong field," said Team Euro Steel star McGregor.
"It was great racing in a beautiful part of the country, with my family
there to support and second me," he added.
McGregor won the prestigious Drak title three years on the trot from 2010 to
2012, but since then has been on the losing end of a number of thrilling
duels on the uMzimkhulu, in recent years to Andy Birkett.
McGregor will be teaming up with Birkett for the FNB Dusi in February,
but will have to deal with his K2 partner as his toughest opponent on the
water during January's Drak Challenge, as Birkett has won the last four
editions of the race.
"I am really looking forward to racing Andy (Birkett) at the Drak. It has
basically been the two of us over the last few years, and the margins have
been so small," he said.
"The fact that we are team mates for the Dusi just makes it more appealing."
For McGregor, who will turn 40 a few days after the Drak Challenge this
year, getting his name back onto the Drak trophy will have a strong appeal.
The Durbanite has been using his time in the Southern Drakensberg shrewdly,
spending time scouting the lower stretches of the second stage that have in
recent years proved to be decisive in the title race outcome.
At the FastDrak on the weekend
Clinton Cook was locked in a tussle with veteran Thulani Mbanjwa for second,
who has been showing solid early summer form ahead of the FNB Dusi Canoe
Marathon in mid-February. Mbanjwa powered away in the closing stages to
relegate Cook to the last step on the podium.
The race included a number of other paddlers that are sure to feature
prominently in the Dusi title clash, but who elected not to force their
hands in the tough one day FastDrak race.
Ant Stott withdrew midway through the race, keen not injure himself on the
low river, while Andrew Houston did the same.
The women's race saw a return to big time paddling in South Africa for former
Drak and Dusi champion Robyn Owen, who ran away with the women's spoils with
Christie Mackenzie raced well in second, with Kerry Segal taking third just
ahead of Cana Peek. All three of these women will be pivotal to the Dusi K2
race in February which will not include Robyn Owen, who is preparing for her
Coast-To-Coast in New Zealand at the same time as the Dusi.
The N3TC Drak Challenge starts at Castleburn on Saturday 20 January with a
24 kilometre stage to Sinister Pool, just above the Swartberg Road Bridge. The
second stage on Sunday 21 January is 36 kilometres finishing at Early Mist Farm close to Coleford
resort. More information can be found at
Click to download the hi-res
The N3TC Drak Challenge 2018 Logo - JPeg
Hank McGregor won his second
FastDrak title on the weekend, and says he is will be hungry for
a fourth title at the 2018 N3TC Drak Challenge on the uMzimkhulu River on 20
and 21 January.
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