30 Aug, 2013

Dusi Domination

Dusi Domination

Robyn Kime can look back on quite some 2012! Not only did she win her third consecutive Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon title (one solo K1 win sandwiched between two K2 wins with Abbey Ulanski), but also claimed the under-23 title at the SA Flat Water Marathon Champs, then went to the World Marathon Champs in Rome and finished second in the under-23 category, as well as fourth in the senior doubles with Michelle Eray. She also won the Drak race for the first time, after finishing second the previous three years, and was second in both the Berg and Fish races.


Then in November she decided to take on the Salomon Skyrun 100km trail race with boyfriend Mike, having done the 40km off-road Mweni Marathon earlier in the year. “Mike entered in 2011, but got injured a month before the race. When he entered again, I decided to run it with him. I had been to Rome in September, paddled the Fish River Marathon at the beginning of October, so I was fit and had been doing a lot of running, but during the race it was very windy and we both got what they call ‘milky corner’ in one eye. We couldn’t see properly, so the medics told us to pull out at 65km. I felt I could have pushed through, if not for that, so I want to do it again.”



Robyn (23) was grew up in Pietermaritzburg, where her father worked in forestry and her mother gave swimming lessons. The family was always active, going on mountain bike rides and hikes, and Robyn did various sports at high school, including hockey, waterpolo and cross-country, as well as canoeing. “The school would take a bus down to the Fish River race, so that’s how I got started, and I went on to win a few races as a junior. I love being on rivers – the rapids are exciting and the places we paddle through are beautiful.”


She is currently halfway through her Masters degree in civil engineering at the University of Stellenbosch, and she lives near the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve just outside the town, where she does all of her running training. “The entrance to the reserve is 3km from our door and there are few better places to do trail running – it would be wrong to live there and not take advantage of that.”



Running is an important part of canoeing, since most races include portages where the paddlers have to carry their boats around obstructions in the river or dangerous sections. “With my paddling background, I find that if I run all year, I can focus on that in training and then just do peak paddling training for three weeks before big races. I’m stronger on the portages thanks to my running background, but I still need to train running with a boat, so I carry my boat on every second run I do up in the nature reserve – and yes, I do get some funny looks.”


When it comes to picking a favourite race, Robyn admits to a bit of hometown bias. “The Dusi is special for me because it’s a big thing in Pietermaritzburg and has an amazing atmosphere. I also really enjoy the extra dynamic that the long portages introduce.” The first day’s 45km stage includes roughly 15km of portaging, with shorter portaging sections on days two (45km) and three (35km). “Growing up in Pietermaritzburg, you have the Comrades, Dusi and Midmar Mile, and it is definitely possible for all people to do them if they put in the training. All three are so aspirational.”