Pietermaritzburg — Danish international paddler Martin Friedrichsen will become the latest international star to take on the Dusi Canoe Marathon from February 14 to 16, saying he couldn't resist the attraction of the world-famous race through the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
Twenty-six-year-old Friedrichsen races for the Danish national marathon team and has enjoyed taking on races such as the Liffey Descent in Ireland that offer technical river racing challenges in the forms of rapids and weirs.
It was at this year's Liffey Descent that he bumped into South African paddler Jenna Ward and conversation turned to the Dusi.
"The discussion in Dublin with Jenna Ward turned to the Dusi," recalls Friedrichsen. "So I said to myself: 'If not now, when?'
"After I came home to Denmark, I was so motivated and I wrote to my coach Finn Larsen telling him that I couldn't take him to Seville next year, because I am going to race the Dusi Marathon," he said.
Friedrichsen has decided that he wants to do his first Dusi in a K2 with an experienced local partner, and has put a request out on the Dusi website inviting local partners keen to partner him and assist in his preparations for the race to contact him.
"I heard about the Dusi Marathon a few years ago, and it sounds like the hardest race ever," said Friedrichsen from Denmark, where winter is settling in, making training for a race in February tricky.
"It motivates me to say 'Okay, one day I will fly to South Africa, and I will do the Dusi'. It will be such a great challenge and experience for me," he added.
Then after his meeting with Ward in Dublin the Dusi discussion reignited his interest in the KZN classic.
"And then everything became reality!" he concluded.
Friedrichsen will be joined on the start line from paddlers from around the world. A group five paddlers from Jersey has already entered the three-day race. Last year Hungarian ace Adrian Boros raced to a shock second place in the 2018 K2 championship race.