Pietermaritzburg – Buoyed by their recent success on debut, Abby Solms and Jenna Ward have set their sights on adding a Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon presented by Parklane Superspar victory to their recent Umpetha Challenge title.
Solms is set to tackle the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon in February with now regular K2 partner Anna Kožíšková of the Czech Republic while young Ward is committed to a fascinating alliance with U23 K1 Women’s Canoe Marathon World Champion Vanda Kiszli of Hungary.
In the meantime though, the two KwaZulu-Natal athletes have formed a mutually beneficial temporary partnership that has already reaped rewards.
“It was nice to win the Umpetha Challenge on the weekend with Jenna (Ward),” said Euro Steel’s Solms. “Beforehand I thought things could go either way but she really impressed me, especially with how strong she was on the run!”
“It was great paddling with Abby at Umpetha; she’s so good and knows exactly what she’s doing and then to have her pushing me from behind on the run was a big bonus,” added MACSquad’s Ward.
The Ozzie Gladwin – one of the biggest and most prestigious one day canoe events in the country – will however represent a slightly different challenge as the pair shift from the Msundusi River to Albert Falls Dam and the upper stretches of the Mngeni River.
“Ozzie (Gladwin) will be slightly different but we’ve both raced on the upper Mngeni so many times before so it’s more a case of just getting there and going without having to think about it too much!” explained Solms.
While the season remains in its infancy, finding some rhythm – even if it is with another partner – remains a focus for the pair and the upcoming 26km hit-out offers another golden opportunity to do just that.
“It’s obviously always preferable to have a good comfortable paddle, regardless of who you’re in the boat with,” said Solms.
“Jenna is a lovely girl and it was great that we had such a good time on the river together during Umpetha; hopefully we can do the same at Ozzie and 50 Miler and then maybe even a little further down the line in the future as well.”
With much of the country ravaged by drought, Durban and surrounds’ recent rains are a welcome sight for many.
Solms is however cautious about to getting her hopes up about the impact these may have had on water levels of the Mngeni River.
“It’s great to finally be getting some rain but I’m not sure if it’s in the right places to be filling up the rivers and dams so I’m not too sure what effect it will have on water levels to be honest.
“For now it’s more a case of us just continuing our running in case its low and we have to get in and out quite a bit and then if there is a bit of water then that’s a nice bonus!” said Solms.
The 2015 Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon gets underway at 09h00 on Sunday, 29 November at Albert Falls Dam and finishes 26km later at Thornvale Farm. More info can be found at www.ozziegladwin.co.za