2018 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon Press Release

 No: dusi1825

07 Feb 2018

Embargo: None

 Written by: Dave Macleod

Modest Wheeler in for 47th Dusi finish

Pietermaritzburg - No matter what happens at the front of the elite men’s and women’s races in the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from 15 to 17 February, the biggest record that is poised to be broken will fall to a modest 67 year old Pietermaritzburg man aiming to break the great Graeme Pope-Ellis’ record for most Dusi finishes.

Lyle Wheeler has completed the tough three day odyssey from Camps Drift to Blue Lagoon 46 times, equalling the record held by the “Dusi King” Pope-Ellis, and as he prepares to race another Dusi, he is adamant that he will always be secondary to Pope-Ellis, even if he earns his 47th medal this year.

“I am not a legend, I am just one of the guys,” he insists.

“I am truly blessed to still be racing the Dusi, when some of the other guys who have raced with me over the years like Neil “Tups” Tupper and Rob Bourne-Lange are not paddling anymore,” says Wheeler.

“I still get nervous and excited, and while it will be nice to get the record, I am not even thinking about it, because so much can happen on the river that you have to take it one day at a time, one rapid at a time.

“If and when I get to the last stretch coming into Durban, I will say a quiet word to Graeme (Pope-Ellis) just to remind him that he is, and always will be, the greatest,” said Wheeler.

The Pietermaritzburg septuagenarian is thrilled to be paddling with his son Billy, having done the Dusi with many other members of his extended family over the years.

“Billy is largely deaf and doesn’t paddle with his hearing aid, so we have developed a way of communicating together when we paddle,” explains Wheeler.

“He anticipates where I am going to steer the boat by the way I turn my head. He has become excellent at reading the strength of my stroke, and I also hold up a few fingers on one hand when I want him to speed up or slow down,” he added.

Wheeler is a cult figure in the race and gets a warm welcome from all the paddlers around him in the race, where his trademark old floppy white hat stands out in the crowd.

“I love the fact that paddlers tell each other follow that old ballie with the white hat because he knows the way down the river,” he chuckles.

He also thrived in the tough conditions unexpectedly meted out to the paddlers on the final stage last year when the water release from Inanda dam failed to materialise.

“The other paddlers got to realise what the Dusi is all about!” he gushes.

“Sure, it was tough and a long day, but I promise you, that 2017 medal will always be at the top of their trophy drawer, and the one they talk about the most,” he says.

While Wheeler actively reverses out of the limelight as much as possible, he is excited about the privilege of starting in a special batch for the paddlers that have done 40 and more Dusis.

“That is really special,” he gushes. “And the best thing about that batch of five boats is that it tells the story of what the Dusi is actually all about because almost every boat is made up of family members paddling together.” He says.

More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DusiCanoeMarathon
Twitter: @DusiCanoe
Instagram: @dusicanoe
Hashtag: #FNBDusi2018


Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic
FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo (Landscape) - GIF


FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo (Portrait) - GIF


Lyle Wheeler (front) will take on his 47th FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon with his son Billy (back). Should he finish he will become the first man to finish 48 Dusi's beating the record held by 'Dusi King' Graeme Pope-Ellis.

Jetline Action Photo/
Gameplan Media

Conditions of usage of photographs: All photographs supplied and hyperlinked herewith may be used free of charge, with full credit to the photographer and agency as provided. The photographs may not be modified or retouched in any way, but may be cropped to suit the layout requirements of the publications. The photographs provided may be used exclusively for editorial purposes, and may be reprinted in any newspaper, magazine, television programme or on any website. These photographs may not be used for any commercial or promotional purpose, including but not limited to posters, advertisements, commercials, promotional email correspondence, point-of-sale material or any retail promotion. Should such usage be desired, please contact us at the details below.
Is this of no value to you?
This media release is intended for use by media professionals covering this specific activity or sport. Should this release not be relevant you, please advise us immediately and we will be glad to remove your name from this particular database. It would be useful to us if you could advise us which subjects you would like to continue receiving releases on.
For any further information, or if you cannot access the images, please contact:
Gameplan Media
(031) 764 3017