Words & Photo: Dave Macleod
The unexpected arrival of top Hungarian marathon racing stars Gàbor Màthé and Adriàn Boros has added further spice to the build-up to the Dusi Canoe Marathon, which starts at Camps Drift on Thursday 13 February.
Under 23 stars flew into South Africa this week eager to make their debut in the Dusi after more than two years of trying to arrange their trip to the famous three day race to Blue Lagoon.
While the pair said that the Dusi was often spoken about in their club, it was a chance friendship struck with Cam Schoeman at the 2011 Canoe Marathon World Championships in Singapore that brought them a step closer to realising their dream.
"We became friends with Cam (Schoeman) and he encouraged us to come to South Africa to do the Dusi," said Màthé.
An injury prevented them taking part in 2012, and they needed to source a sponsor in their sprint and marathon crazy homeland to fund their trip to the unique river paddling and portaging challenge of the Dusi.
Boros stepped in at the eleventh hour when Màthé's regular K2 partner got injured, and brings with him a eagerness and bravado to tackle the races major challenges.
"We have very little experience in rapids, we are flatwater marathoners," said Màthé. "So we are looking at the course and working out where we have to portage and where we can shoot the rapids."
"Adriàn (Boros) is much more aggressive and wants to shoot everything, so we will see how the next two weeks go before we decide on our race plan," he added.
Màthé is a former medallist at the junior world championships and was recently placed fifth in the U23 division at the world marathon championships.
His partner Boros is a regular medallist at the European champs, where he recently scooped aK1 silver medal and K2 bronze medal in the Under 23 division.
"We are going to race really hard," said Mathé. "It will be difficult because it is our first attempt at the Dusi, but we believe we can get a top twenty finish."
The Hungarian duo are being hosted by local coach Craig Mustard and being assisted by former Hungarian Olympic medallist Atilla Adrovics, who has made them feel at home in the head of the capital city since their arrival.
With the Hungarian Erdelyi siblings also at their training session at Camps Drift, there is far more Hungarian currently being spoken than any other language on the banks.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2014 starts in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday 13 February and ends in Durban on Saturday 15 February 2014. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za