2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe
50th medal for Lyle Wheeler set to be Dusi 2021 highlight
Pietermaritzburg - Before the media basks the spotlight on the winners of
the 2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon at Blue Lagoon on Saturday 20 February,
the canoeing community will come to a standstill to pay tribute to a modest
70 year old stalwart of the race as Lyle Wheeler becomes the first person to
finish the tough three day race fifty times.
Wheeler has been a popular and unassuming part of the paddling community
since his first Dusi in 1971 and he never misses taking part in the race,
but the attention that the prospect of his fiftieth finishers medal is
attracting flusters him.
“It is not about me,” he insists. “There are some many other heroes of the
Dusi and I am just a tiny part of that story.
“The race simply wouldn’t be what it is today without the men and women who
have organised it over the years, the runners like Piet Vorster who came
into paddling to give it a go and changed the race forever, and the families
and seconders, who, for me, are the unsung heroes of the Dusi,” says the
His passage down the uMsundusi and uMgeni rivers over five decades has
allowed him to share many remarkable story and to get to know many of the
sport’s trailblazers. Now he enjoys sharing and passing on his knowledge and
memories of the Dusi.
Affectionately known as “Mkhulu”, Wheeler holds court with many groups of
eager young Dusi racers, who hang on his every word when asked about the
race and how it has evolved over the years.
With the 2021 Dusi being the biggest milestone ever celebrated by the
70-year old event, Wheeler has been pondering how to take on his fiftieth
“Look I don’t need anyone’s help to get to Durban, and with it being a K1
year I could have entered in a single, but I thought long and hard about it
and I want to share what will be a very special occasion for me with my son
Billy, who I have done a number of Dusi with.
Billy Wheeler is deaf and it has taken some adjustments and adaptions to get
the K2 crew to be able to paddle as the well-drilled team they are now.
“I love the fact that people recognise us together and give Billy the credit
he deserves for paddling the Dusi,” said Wheeler, who humbly deflects any
attention he attracts.
He started his first Dusi in 1971, when the race attracts a few dozen
hardened competitors. “Old man Jenkins got me to do the Dusi and found me a
partner. It was such an incredible adventure,” he recalls.
“We didn’t know where to go. There were no roads or paths, just cattle
tracks through the bush. The river was really low and we walked and ran so
much of the way.
“I was wearing hockey boots and the pain in my feet was just incredible. We
tried stuffing foam into our boots to stop the sand getting in because we
were walking over so many sandbanks, but it didn’t help,” he recalls.
When he did finally reach Blue Lagoon at the end of his first Dusi, he made
straight for the nearby beach.
“In those days the race finished much closer to the sea than it does now. My
feet were so sore and I had lost my toenails, so I just dived straight into
the sea to try and get rid of the pain!”
With his trademark wide brimmed white hat, stained by countless days on the
muddy river and with the insignia “Old Man River” embroidered on the front,
Wheeler is a much loved and respected icon of the Dusi.
Expect that admiration to produce a remarkably emotional moment when he and
his son paddle their K2 into Blue Lagoon in Durban in February.
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
One of the
MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon's most iconic figures Lyle Wheeler (front) will
complete his 50th Dusi with his son Billy (back) when they reach Blue
Lagoon on Saturday 20 February.
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,
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:
(031) 764 3017