2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe
Octogenarian Hugh Raw excited for his tenth Dusi
Pietermaritzburg - When the huge field of paddlers sets off from Camps Drift
on the morning of 18 February at the start of the 2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe
Marathon, Pietermaritzburg paddler Hugh Raw will almost certainly be the
oldest paddler in the field, treating himself to a K1 Dusi shortly after
turning 80 years old.
The sprightly octogenarian has a long and involved history with the race
that has seen him champion the annual canvas Dusi paddle that replicates the
early Dusi, and this year he aims to finish his tenth Dusi, which will earn
him his permanent green number, to go with his ten canvas Dusis.
Modest and unassuming, Raw and his family are deeply rooted in paddling and
it surprises many that he has not competed in more Dusis since his
introduction to the sport in 1982, but his involvement with the race goes
much further back than that.
“I was a huge admirer and friend of Dr Ian Player. I clearly recall as a
small boy playing on the banks of the Dusi and swimming in the clean river,
and then watching the Dusi paddlers going past at what is now Merchiston
School,” he said.
Raw was sought after as a pilot to fly over the valleys during the 1970s to
scout portages and observe crews running with their boats through the bush,
at a stage when designing new portage route was seen as essential to any
Running a kayak shop he then spent ten years helping paddlers with all sorts
of canoeing supplies and repairs at each overnight stop before his debut in
Since then he has accumulated nine finishers medals, six of them
consecutively, but has now planned a K1 Dusi finishers medals in February
2021 as the first 80 year-old to achieved that feat.
“It will be fun to set a small mark in the history of this great race,” said
Raw, pointing out that it will be a memorable family affair as he will be
accompanied by his sons Shane and Darren.
“We will be paddling as an old- school group of associates. Darron and Shane
will be with me all the way as competitor/helpers and we will share the
portages using the nose and tail slings that they used in the early days of
the Dusi,” said Raw.
Raw has followed his passion for recreating and paddling wood and canvas
kayaks as were used in the pioneering days of the race, to the point that he
has completed more canvas Dusis than conventional Dusi Marathons.
“I did my first canvas Dusi in 2009 and I have done them every year since
then,” said Raw, whose love for big water rivers like the Umkomaas, Bushmans
and Tugela rivers has rubbed off on his family, who have become renowned
rough water kayakers.
He holds an unique record at the annual Fish Marathon where he has completed
the race in a K3 with his sons and grandsons, celebrating three generations
of the family in various combinations in recent years.
When he finishes the 2021 MyLife Dusi at Blue Lagoon on Saturday 20 February
he will become the first octogenarian to get a Dusi finishers medal,
eclipsing the mark set by Arthur Duncan, who completed the Dusi in a K2 aged
79 with Colin Burden, and will earn his permanent green number for
completing the race ten times.
“Actually this all started at the last Dusi prize giving,” said Raw, who
turned eighty last weekend. “I started planning to do a Dusi at 80, and in a
K1 because I simply prefer paddling in a single. I can paddle at my own pace
and not worry about keeping anybody waiting.”
While the COVID-19 lockdown has played havoc with his training and
preparation, he is back into full swing with his paddling and walking, under
the guise of coach Dicky Edwards.
“We got cracking again on 1 October. I walk on the trails through The
Cascades with four bricks in a backpack, and paddle on the Drift regularly,”
He completed the first race of the MyLife Dusi season last weekend when he
finished the Alan Gardiner Memorial race that takes in half of the Dusi
second stage, and it gave a glimpse of what to expect from his Dusi, as he
paddled at a slow but steady pace, enjoying the occasion with like-minded
“Now that I have entered there is quite a bit of interest from other
paddlers to join me,” he added. “The famous Dusi Dawdlers are asking to
start in our batch as well.”
The 2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from 18-20 February 2021.
Entry details and more information can be found at
Website : www.dusi.co.za
Click to download the hi-res
MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon logo (Landscape) -
MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon logo
(Portrait) - JPEG
years of age Hugh Raw is aiming for his tenth medal in the MyLife Dusi
Canoe Marathon from 18 to 20 February 2021.
sets off in his new K1 gifted to him by his family on his 80th birthday
last weekend for the MyLife Dusi
Canoe Marathon from 18 to 20 February 2021.
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