N3TC Drak Challenge
Murray a shooting Starr at FastDrak
Underberg - Murray Starr sounded an early warning shot ahead of the N3TC
Drak Challenge by winning the tough FastDrak ultramarathon that covers the
entire two-day Drak Challenge route in one paddle.
The cheerful Stellenbosch University paddler took full advantage of the
excellent water conditions to canter home six minutes clear of the on-form
Maritzburg College schoolboy Stewart Little, with world marathon champ Hank
McGregor and his wife Pippa third in a mixed double.
Starr started cautiously and then gradually moved to the front as other top
paddlers made mistakes on the medium level river.
"I just stayed on the guys tails, and once they made mistakes I kinda acted
on them," said a delighted Starr afterwards.
"I didn't really have a race plan but I was stoked that the portages came
when they did. That's where I was able to get away from the other guys,
because they were reeling me in on the paddle sections," he added.
He said that the win sets the stage perfectly for a serious challenge at a
top position at the hugely competitive N3TC Drak Challenge in January.
"I am keen to have a good crack at the Drak this year. It is always fun and
because I don't have to be back at Stellenbosch I can come down for a few
tripping sessions before the race.
"It is such a cool race with a vibe that everyone comes down for," he said.
Starr will be looking to emulate Owen "OG" Gandar, who rocketed to a
stunning third place over at last year's race, proving that technical river
ability, solid base training and, most importantly, good knowledge of the
course can produce an upset podium result.
The tough, uncompromising 60km FastDrak can often show excellent base form
three weeks before the Underberg major, and the superb fifth place overall
by the reigning N3TC Drak ladies champion Abby Solms spoke volumes about her
The Euro Steel star, a six times winner of the big race - five of them
consecutively - was in sublime form as she paddled and ran her way to
victory in the race, following two weeks after she won the KZN Mixed Doubles
team race with team mate Andy Birkett on the same stretch of river.
"I am really happy with how things went today, and really chuffed with the
result. Now I can just hope that it all goes according to plan at the Drak!"
She said that she had made one mistake, taking
a swim at a rapid above Glenhaven, the only blemish on an otherwise
faultless day on the river. "Rather have that happen now that in the Drak
Challenge," she mused.
"It was great to get some serious mileage in and to iron out those few
little bad lines, she added.
The 2017 N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon takes place in the Southern
Drakensberg on 21 and 22 January 2017.
More information can be found at
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
1.Murray Starr 4:04:08
2.Stewart Little 4:10:11
3.Hank McGregor/Pippa McGregor 4:10:13
4.Tyrone Maher 4:12:39
5.Abby Solms 4:12:59 (1st woman)
6.Bailey de Fondamiere 4:13:14
7.Murray Haw 4:16:32
8.Hamish Mackenzie 4:24:14
9.Marc Germiquet 4:24:15
10.Dave Evans 4:25:20
Click to download the hi-res
The N3TC Drak Challenge 2017 Logo - JPeg
All smiles! Murray Starr gave a
glimpse of his river knowledge and all round ability by winning the 60km
FastDrak title ahead of the N3TC Drak Challenge on 21 and 22 January.
Euro Steel's Abby Solms was in
rampant form as she won the women's title in the FastDrak ultramarathon
ahead of the N3TC Drak Challenge, finishing fifth overall.
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