Durban – New Dusi champion Lance Kime revelled in his glory of winning the world-famous canoe marathon for the first time on Saturday, admitting it was an honour beyond his “wildest dreams”.
The 21-year-old, whose sister Robyn Kime won the women's race, dashed the hopes of defending champion Andrew Birkett, bidding to win a fourth successive crown, and Sbonelo Zondi, who was on track to become the first black paddler to win the K1 race in the 62-year history of the event.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in this position,” Lance Kime said after crossing the line first at Blue Lagoon in Durban.
“We grew up in Pietermaritzburg so we always heard of the Dusi and we would sort of watch the start every year.
“I think only in the last couple of years, paddling semi-professionally, I thought that it might be a realistic goal, but before that I never thought I could do it.”
He began the final day at Inanda Dam more than a minute behind Zondi, who led the race the first two days but fell out of his boat at Pumphouse Weir, 22 kilometres into the 36km final stage.
Zondi, who finished third, was overtaken by the eventual winner and 2005 champion Hank McGregor.
Lance Kime set a new course record of eight hours, 29 seconds (8:00:29), and a new best of 2:15:38 to smash the 22-year-old record for the third and final stage.
“I don’t think I would have gone anywhere near that record if it hadn’t been for the competition this year,” he said.
“I had it in the back of my mind when I took the lead today.
“I think I got the record purely because of the final kilometre. I paddled faster than I have in my life.
“It was probably the loudest crowd that I have ever had in my life and that just pushed me to a whole new level.”
Birkett, like Zondi, saw his race fall apart courtesy of a fall when he was leading two thirds of the way into the second stage.
The double K2 winner, who also encountered rudder problems, ended fourth overall.
“I think, as we’ve always said at Dusi, most of the time it’s the guy that doesn’t make mistakes who wins,” said Lance Kime.
“I actually didn’t have a flawless race this year Ä on the first day I had a short swim, which ended up making me lose touch.
“But I think I had a very fortunate day two and capitalised on both Andy and Eric’s (Zondi) mistakes on day two and three, managing to hold it together, and kept going hard all the way to the end.”
Robyn Kime, meanwhile, made it a family double for the first time in the history of the race after she clinched a fourth straight title (including K1 and K2 events).
Her overall winning time of 9:07:16, as well as her third stage time of 2:43:08, crushed the previous records held by Dusi legend Abbey Ulansky from back in 2007.
“I'm very pleased, especially with Lance's result,” she said.
“On the first day he had a stupid swim... but he came back and won the race. I can’t believe how strong he is and I’m so excited and proud of him.” – Sapa