Brown times it well, to catch up on leader King
A GAME of cat and mouse was played throughout the third stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon yesterday.
Those chasing race leader Lance King gave it their all, but the man in the yellow jersey maintained his control – while Jenna Ward powered into the lead of the women’s race.
Despite having everything thrown at him, King was up to the task and met every punch of his competitors with a powerful counterpunch, not willing to give an inch.
“My main goal was to make sure I didn’t lose any of my lead so I’m really pleased to have done that and that I still have a bit of a gap going into day four,” said King.
It was former World Marathon champ Ben Brown of Britain who claimed a narrow stage victory as he edged out Graeme Solomon, Ivan Kruger and King in the final sprint.
Not even the mammoth 75km third stage could separate the four as Brown made his presence felt.
“My goal was always to try to get ahead of three guys in front of me and to win the stage so I’m pretty stoked with how today went for me,” said Brown.
“I got my nutrition pretty much spot on today, which meant I didn’t get tired at all and I also had a little bit left in the tank when it came down to the sprint at the end,” he added.
Solomon finished a narrow second, solidifying his second place overall, however did have small cause for celebration as he out-sprinted Brown for the stage’s bridge prize. He will however now be forced to find a near three kilometer run in his legs after the sudden news of a compulsory portage shortly after the start of day four due to a hyacinth blockage.
The portage could well play an important role in the outcome as few would have prepared themselves adequately for an obstacle of this nature.
Louw van Riet, PierreAndre Rabie and Edgar Boehn Jnr. continued their ding dong battle for fourth position except this time they crossed the line without their partner-in-crime of the first two days, Lee McGregor, the 61 year old managing to hold onto eighth position overall, behind Brown, despite suffering a third swim in as many days.
Stage three will be one Jenna Ward will remember fondly for many years to come as she put in a remarkable per- formance to not only slash the five minute gap between herself and leader Kirsten Penderis, but open up a near two minute lead of her own.
“I got away early on but the group I was paddling with was flying so I decided to sit up a little and wait for the next group, which I paddled with across the dam,” said Ward.
“After the put-in I dug deep and just tried to push as hard as I could and every time I wanted to go a little easier I thought that any seconds I lost today may just be the seconds that cost me the race tomorrow.
“I decided to do Berg as good base training when I was selected for the SA marathon team going to Denmark so now to be in a position to win is amazing. Lots can still happen though so we’ll have to just wait and see,” she added.
Youngster Mthobisi Cele regained the lead in the under 18 boys category whilst thirdplaced Ivan Kruger and Ward still comfortably lead the under 23 men’s and women’s categories respectively.
MAKING A SPLASH: Ben Brown outsprints Graeme Solomon to claim victory in the third stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon yesterday.