2022 Fish River Canoe Marathon Media Service  No: Fish2204

 16 Sept 2022

 Embargo: None Written by: Nick Tatham

Hartley eager to defend Fish K1 crown

Cradock – Women’s defending K1 Fish River Canoe Marathon champion Bridgitte Hartley is eager to test her skills once again at one of South Africa’s premier river marathons starting at Grassridge Dame on Friday, 7 October.

It was back in 2018 that Hartley claimed her first K1 title at the Fish when she held off a strong charge from Jenna Nisbet to win the title, and the SA K1 River Marathon crown. 2022 will also be the SA K1 River Marathon championship race which adds another dimension to the two-day affair.

Hartley has since also added the K2 title in Cradock to her name when she teamed up with Christie Mackenzie to finally claim that elusive title, and the two titles will give her confidence going into this year’s race.

Experience on the Fish River is something that Hartley has developed and now with the confidence of winning she will be a threat for the other top women in the field. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist understands the pressure that comes with racing.

“We always put pressure on ourselves when racing in any event,” Hartley said. “I guess I have given myself that pressure but I really just want to focus on having a good race and enjoying the event.”

Hartley isn’t just heading to Cradock to try and defend her title.

“I am excited about the Fish this year as I have been coaching at Maritzburg College and there is a big group of boys doing it; so it’s going to be great to be there racing and supporting them.

“I enjoy the atmosphere at the Fish as it brings paddlers from all provinces together to compete and socialize in the same place. It’s great to catch up with paddlers who have supported me as an international athlete and see how they are doing.

“It also brings new paddlers to our sport as well as children, and with it being held in a small town I feel there is a wonderful atmosphere and feeling of community in our sport.”

Coming from a decorated sprinting background Hartley transitioned into river paddling over a period of time and has now become one of the driving forces in women’s river racing in South Africa.

The Fish has a reputation of offering up big water thanks to a guaranteed water release from Grassridge Dam and the obstacles on the Fish are not to be taken lightly. The famous Keith’s Flyover has always been an obstacle the Hartley hasn’t quite tamed while the Cradock Weir continues to provide thrills and spills.

“Keith’s has never been my favourite rapid so I don’t get overly excited about it," she commented.

“Cradock Weir is a fantastic weir not only for the challenge of it but it’s the last major obstacle of the race so it’s important to get through it successfully.

“The crowd on the bridge is fantastic at cheering paddlers home and gives me added energy to keep paddling hard for the last few kilometres.”

More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za.


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Pictured here at the 2021 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon, Bridgitte Hartley will be out to claim her third title at the 2022 Fish River Canoe Marathon when she takes on the two-day challenge from 7-8 October. Anthony Grote/
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