The Dusi Canoe Marathon was first established 1951 and is now the biggest canoeing event on the African continent. Having been recognised as one of the most popular river marathons in the world, the event attracts 1600 to 2000 paddlers per year. The distance of the marathon covers approximately 120 km, and stretches between Pietermaritzburg and Durban - with all races starting at the uMsindusi River. In 2016, the ever-popular race takes place from 18 - 20 February 2016.
Each year, paddlers from all over the continent and the world take part in a number of marathons, choosing between normal marathon K1s, K2s or even K3s. What makes the event so unique is that it is a race of strength and endurance, where participants will encounter numerous challenging portages. At these portages, contestants are expected to carry their canoes over hills, either to cut out unrunnable rapids, or to cut out long loops in the river. Most of these portages are through thick bush on steep and undulating terrain, and several of them run a couple of kms in length.
Stage One of the race is 42km in length. Starting off from the uMsindusi River, it goes on through to the Dusi Bridge, close to Nagle dam. After this leg, paddlers will exit the race and stay in accomodation in nearby Durban or Pietermaritzberg.
Stage Two is the longest and most challenging leg with its duration of 46km. The race starts at Dusi Bridge, on to the Inanda dam just outside Hillcrest, and finishes with 11km of flatwater on the dam. Hillcrest and Durban are nearby and most paddlers leave the valley after completion.
Stage Three is 36km long starting from Inanda dam and ending in Blue Lagoon in Durban. Each paddler who finishes the race receives a Dusi medal and a commemorative race garment. The race prize giving takes place at Blue Lagoon after the final stage.
Canoes used in this race need to be robust in order to endure paddling over the rocky river, and must have an overstern rudder. Safety requirements state that paddlers wear splashcover and lifejackets and, in the case of full river conditions occur, they will be required to wear helmets.