Three times winner Len Jenkins is looking to break a three-year drought of victories when he lines up for the start of the N3TC Drak Challenge on the fast flowing, clean water of the Umzimkulu River in the foothills of KwaZulu-Natal’s Drakensberg in little over a week’s time.
Photo: Actionography / Gameplan Media
Having been narrowly edged out in a sprint finish by Team Best 4 Kayak Centre ace Hank McGregor in both 2011 and 2012, the “Fisher King” , who last won here in 2008, will be faced with a battle of a slightly different nature this time round, with McGregor being unable to attend the 2013 Drak due to international surfski commitments.
The news changes little for Jenkins though as he prepares himself for yet another thrilling encounter in one of the country’s most popular canoe marathons on the calendar.
“It will be a bit different not having Hank (McGregor) there this time. He and I have had a couple of tight races over the past couple of years at the Drak but it doesn’t change too much for me,” said Jenkins.
“There will still be plenty of other guys who will also be looking to do well, so I’m sure it will still a tight race.”
“Cam Schoeman is going really well at the moment, Grant van der Walt will be strong and Ant Stott will also be up there,” he added.
Having switched positions on the paddling calendar with the iconic The Unlimited Dusi two years ago, for many the Drak Challenge now serves as the perfect paddling preparation for the three-day journey from Pietermaritzburg to Durban less than a month later.
With McGregor’s absence and his own freakish talent Jenkins now finds himself in the rare position of challenging for both highly sought-after titles in the same year. However, he is reluctant to commit to any such goal.
“The Drak is a very different race to the Dusi and it’s not often one is able to win both,” said Jenkins. “I’ve been doing a lot of both trail and road running recently, in preparation for Dusi, and have been doing most of my training in the boat on my own, so I’m not too sure where I am at the moment.”
“I’m feeling good, though, and things are ticking over nicely, but you never know.”
“I’ll just look to try make as few mistakes as possible and I’ll definitely try go for the win at Drak, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
2013 sees the N3TC Drak Challenge celebrate its 20th anniversary and organisers are hopeful that entries will again border on the 1000 maximum mark. The N3TC Drak Challenge 2013 starts on 19 January at Castleburn outside Underberg and finishes on 20 January at Early Mist Farm close to Coleford.
Tags: drak challenge, Hank McGregor, KZN, Len Jenkins, n3tc drak challenge, umzimkulu river, unlimited dusi canoe marathon