N3TC Drak Challenge
"Back to normal" rainfall boost for Drak Challenge
Underberg – Consistently steady rainfall in the Southern Drakensberg has
reassured canoeists that the end is in sight for the La Niña drought and
boosted entries for the popular N3TC Drak Challenge on 21 and 22 January.
Regular heavy rains have left the uMzimkhulu River between Castleburn and
Early Mists Farm that is used for the annual Drak Challenge race running at
a very full level, and once social media started spreading the good news,
paddlers from around the country have flocked to the well-loved section of
river to enjoy the conditions and prepare for the big race in two weekends
The race has been held in low water conditions for the last two years
as the La Niña drought kept Southern Africa in it's grip, but the current
summer rainfalls patterns appear to signal an end to the drought cycle,
certainly over the Southern Drakensberg region.
"We had been led to believe that this summer would be characterised by
heavier than normal rainfall, and that is certainly what we are seeing so
far," said race committee head Andrew Barnett.
"With the river running at a very full level at the moment, and a fair
amount of rain forecast for the coming fortnight, it certainly looks
promising for a very enjoyable race on a clean medium to full river next
weekend," he added.
"We deliberately stage this race in January to take advantage of the best of
the summer rains as this race in entirely dependent on rainfall," said
"Finally the weather patterns are starting to look more 'normal'. It has
been a very tough year for the local farmers and the paddlers alike," he
Timeous rains ensured that the recent KZN Mixed Doubles Champs and the
one-day FastDrak races were both held on excellent medium river levels.
Since then there have been several heavy downpours in the catchment area,
sending the levels of the uMzimkhulu River soaring to very full levels, and
the paddling community has been quick to take note.
"Underberg was buzzing with paddlers after New Year once social media got
the word out that the river was full," explained Barnett.
The heavy rainfall has ensured the water table is saturated and that all the
regular afternoon thunderstorms lead to a stabilising 'topping-up' effect on
the uMzimkhulu River.
After two tough season during which paddlers have had to deal with
significantly less water than usual on most races, and even the cancellation
of some races, the steady rainfall since the start of the New Year appears
to have allowed paddlers to rediscover their joy of paddling.
"We are looking forward to a great race. We can be pretty certain the river
level will be good, and there is a great vibe around the local farming
community, enjoying the signs that this tough two year drought looks to be
"A big part of this race is the hospitality of the people of Himeville and
Underberg, and the paddlers and their families should find us all in a
pretty good mood when they get here next weekend," he said,.
Normal entries for the N3TC Drak Challenge close at midnight on Wednesday 11
January, after which late entries will be taken online for a week.
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
Click to download the hi-res
The N3TC Drak Challenge 2017 Logo - JPeg
Keen paddler Evan Knight crashes
through the big water of Glenhaven Rapid while preparing for the upcoming
N3TC Drak Challenge starting in the Southern Drakensberg on Saturday 21 and
Sunday 22 January.
Keen paddler Brandon Macleod
makes the most of the high river levels following steady rainfall in the
Southern Drakensberg ahead of the N3TC Drak Challenge starting in the
Southern Drakensberg on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January.
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