2018 FNB Dusi Canoe
Incredible 30 in a row looms for Oliver
Pietermaritzburg – Many paddlers will be eyeing personal milestones at the
2018 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon, but very few are as significant as Lorna
Oliver who eyes her thirtieth consecutive Dusi finish at the event from
The daughter of long-serving KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union stalwart timekeeper
and administrator John Oliver, Lorna’s first taste of the Dusi was when she
was just 13 years old.
“My dad asked me to do the Dusi with him when I was in Standard 5 (Grade
7),” she recalls.
“I don’t really remember my first one too well which is a bit of a shame but
I do remember getting to Burma Road and wondering what all the fuss was
“I guess at 13 years old you think that you can conquer the world!”
Being someone that grew up around paddling it was almost a given that Oliver
would become a paddler herself, however her love affair with the Dusi Canoe
Marathon has defied all expectations and she plans on continuing as long as
“I did five in a row, then 10 and then 15 and I thought that I just had to
“My partners over the years have come to realise that even if I break a leg,
they are going to have to carry me across the finish line!” she mentioned in
The 29 previous Dusi’s have all had their own unique memories; however there
are a few Dusi’s that really stick out for her.
“My first K1 Dusi in 1991 when the river was in flood was definitely a race
that I won’t forget. My dad was taking a school boy down and they were with
me the whole way.
“Then I remember the year when there was massive rain overnight after day
two and the river was also flooded and we had wrapped our boat on the first
“Luckily we managed to nurse it all the way to the finish that year,” she
Preparing for the Dusi is very much a personal thing and despite Oliver’s 29
Dusi finishes she doesn’t follow a specific routine when getting ready for
the three-day slog from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
“Some years I do more and some years I don’t do any training at all!” she
“This year my partner and I have been training quite hard and I am just
trying to hang in there with her!
“We are taking it quite seriously and are hoping that we can win the
“It’s always a lot better being closer to the front of the field than the
back because you not out on the water in the heat so we are training hard.”
In the last 29 years one might think that Oliver has seen it all in the
Valley of a Thousand Hills, but the one element that keeps her returning is
the uniqueness of every Dusi that she has done.
“Every year the Dusi is different, from water levels to rapids to weather
conditions and that is why I love it.
“You can go to the Fish and basically know what to expect every year but
with the Dusi there are always new challenges every year,” she explained.
The 2018 women’s tussle at the Dusi is going to be an exciting one with a
number of crews working hard to claim a maiden Dusi crown. Having such
strong competition in the ladies field is something that Oliver is satisfied
“It’s fantastic to have this kind of competition in the ladies race this
“There are about eight to ten boats that will be fighting it out for the top
three which is really exciting and I hope that we can push this interest
through to other disciplines.”
Conquering the toughest canoeing race in the country 30 times will put
Oliver in some hugely elite company; however she hopes that she can inspire
ladies to continue to take part in the Dusi and paddling.
“I have never thought about it but it would be great if I could inspire
women to get out and paddle the Dusi.
“I just want ladies to get out there and take part. Grab a partner and get
in a boat!” she added positively.
More information can be found at
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CANOE MARATHON ON SOCIAL MEDIA
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Lorna Oliver will be taking
part in her 30th FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon in a row when she lines up on
the start line at Camps Drift on Thursday, 15 February.
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