River Canoe Marathon Diary Note
Whirlwind month ends with Fish challenge for Hartley
Cradock – With five races in as many weeks in different parts of the
world, Bridgitte Hartley returns home to the 2018 Hansa Fish River Canoe
Marathon next weekend hoping to bag a first SA K1 River Marathon
Hartley’s international jet-setting started with a bronze medal at the
ICF Sprint World Championships at the end of August. She then went to
the Nelo Summer Challenge and the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships
She returned home to win the VKB Liebensbergvlei Marathon after which
she jetted to Ireland where she finished third in the Irish Coast
Paddling Championships last weekend.
A bit of recovery time is on the cards for the three-time Olympian.
“I am definitely going to take a couple of days off!” she said with a
relief. “It has been non-stop and I want to avoid being ill going into
“I want two or three days away from paddling to recharge and get myself
prepared for the trip to Cradock.”
Hartley, who finished second at the 2016 Fish behind Abby Solms is
looking to stamp her authority on river marathon racing. The 2018 Fish
gives her the perfect opportunity as she searches for a first major
“I am going to head down to Cradock early next week so I can get in a
few days’ worth of tripping on the river.
“I am no river guru but last year in a K2 we managed to navigate
ourselves down the river fairly well with only one swim at Cradock Weir.
“I got a lot of confidence from last year’s race so I hope that I can
take that into this year’s event.”
Having a bit of time in her river boat in the Free State a few weeks ago
was important for Hartley who has only had that preparation time for the
“I felt that I needed to race at the Liebenbergsvlei considering I have
been in a sprint boat, marathon boat and a surfski as well over the past
“It is going to feel a little bit strange next week but I will give
myself enough time to prepare,” she added.
The Fish River often provides high drama with the race including some of
the most exciting rapids in South African river racing. One of the most
infamous is the Keith’s Flyover Rapid ten kilometres into the race and
Hartley has made her decision about daunting obstacle.
“I don’t think that I am going to be shooting Keith’s this year,” she
said. “For me I just don't think it is something that I need to shoot.
“I feel that I am strong enough to gain back the time on the flat water
that I might lose portaging around Keith’s.”
The ladies race is going to be one of the most open in a few years with
the likes of Jenna Ward and Christie Mackenzie vying for the title.
Hartley understands that 2017 K2 winner Ward will be a serious threat.
“Jenna is always an incredible competitor and will be tough competition.
“She has had a good year with a fourth at the World Marathon
Championships and she is in some good form going into the Fish.
“It is going to be a great race and it’s exciting to see that there are
a number of paddlers that can win the race,” Hartley added.
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Fish River Canoe
Marathon 2018 Logo - JPeg
2016 Hansa Fish runner-up
Bridgitte Hartley will be hoping to go one better in 2018 when she eyes
the SA K1 River Marathon Championship title from 5-6 October.
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