Lovemore leads heading into Berg River Canoe Marathon climax

Knysna native Tom Lovemore will take a narrow advantage into the 57km final stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon after he edged out local veteran Robbie Herreveld in the final dash for the line for the third day in a row on Friday.

After the long 75km Queen Stage from Bridgetown to Zoutkloof, Lovemore is now a crucial three seconds ahead going into Saturday’s final battle into Hereveld’s home town at Velddrif on the West Coast of the Western Cape.

Lovemore stretches his lead on Berg River Canoe Marathon day three

In the battle for the minor placings, Jeremy Maher and Msawenkosi Mtolo joined Lovemore and Herreveld in the lead group on Friday, and that means Maher has consolidated his grip on third, while Mtolo moved up to fourth. Paarl’s Heinrich Schloms missed getting onto the lead group after the Misverstand Dam portage and paid the price by dropping down one position to fifth overall, after he spent the day in a group chasing the leaders. He eventually lost six minutes to the lead bunch.

In the dice for the women’s title, Stephanie Von der Heyde looks to have all but secured the victory as she added more than four minutes to her overnight lead and is now a comfortable nine minutes ahead of 18-year-old Neriyah Dill in second place. Tayla Isaac is currently lying third and looks a good bet to complete the podium.

Stephanie von der Heyde won the third stage to take a commanding lead into the final day of the women’s race. Image: John Hishin /
Gameplan Media

Leader looking forward to the finish

Lovemore is looking forward to the finish of the four-day, 240km race on Saturday, but is taking nothing for granted as far as the final result is concerned.

“Creeping ever closer to Velddrif is the right word,” said Lovemore yesterday as he recovered from the 75km slog to Zoutkloof. He also added: “Nothing is for free in this race.”

“We had a really big bunch across the dam which is typical for Day 3. I thought my best shot at getting away from Robbie was at the (portage at Misverstand Dam Wall) and I was hoping I could open a substantial gap. But I looked back after the put in, after absolutely flying down the hill, and there he was right on our tail and looking as strong as ever.

“So we gave in to being a fourball the whole day, which was actually quite nice – I think we were all just grateful to have four of us and to be able to share the work. There were a couple obstacles, but I think no one really had the energy to go on their own – and I think the consensus was that if anyone gets away, the other three will pull them back in, so there is a lot of just waiting for an opportunity, but nothing really came.”

Wary of the old dog on his tail

The 26-year-old is very aware his rival, at twice his age, is still very much in the race and a tight final battle on Saturday will decide the war.

“The last three days are not worth anything if you can’t put it away tomorrow (Saturday). The plan is to get cleanly through the portage 10 kays from the finish and just hang on to Robbie, making sure that I watch every move he does and wait for the end.

“He has got the upper hand on the grind, but I know I’ve got him with top-end speed, so it will be interesting to see how we compete to our strngths tomorrow.

He also said: “It is a mass start again which makes it a bit complicated with everyone there.

“It means there are a lot of guys who aren’t in the front four who start with us, so we could have 12 or 13 guys in the group until the portage. I am not sure if anyone’s going to have it in them to try and break the bunch, but if someone does go I will definitely try to jump on their bus and get away.”

Leading Results Berg River Canoe Marathon

(Pos, Name, Overall Time)
1 Thomas Lovemore 14:08:27.45
2 Robert Herreveld 14:08:30.01
3 Jeremy Maher 14:23:36.41
4 Msawenkosi Mtolo 14:25:29.57
5 Heinrich Schloms 14:31:34.10
6 Siseko Ntondini 14:40:18.05
7 Thabani Msia 14:47:58.02
8 Paul Marais 14:47:58.97
9 Siyanda Gwamanda 14:57:00.52
10 Phineas Zulu 15:24:54.27

1 Stephanie Von der Heyde 16:42:04.50
2 Neriyah Dill 16:51:22:04
3 Tayla Isaac 17:55:23.67
4 Ansune Basson 18:07:31.40
5 Dominique Desmeules 19:11:43.92

More information can be found at https://berg.org.za/

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