McGregor dominates national champs
Hank McGregor took a major step forward in his bid to retain his world marathon championship title after a weekend of total domination of the national marathon championships that served as the trial for the team to world championships in Rome later in the year.
The Team Best 4 Kayak Centre skipper won the K1 national crown for the sixth time at a cold and blustery Mofam dam outside Elgin, and them combined with injured teammate Grant van der Walt to complete the double by winning the K2 title on Sunday.
"The K1 race went just as I wanted it to go," said McGregor. "I was able to break away after the last portage and won it clear of Len Jenkins in second. It was a hard race though as the challenge from the Cape guys like the Mocké brothers, Graeme Solomon and Simon van Gysen was strong throughout the race."
With the K1 title in the bag, McGregor's teammate and training partner Grant van der Walt still didn't have any assurances from the national selectors how they would factor in the back injury that he is currently struggling with. While McGregor and his teammates retreated from the miserable weather to watch the rugby test on Saturday afternoon, van der Walt headed out onto the water to test his painful back on the portages.
"I left it entirely up to him," said McGregor. "I understood the predicament he was in and did not put him under any pressure, and even said I was happy not to race if he felt he couldn't do it."
At the eleventh hour van der Walt insisted that they race, and the duo, despite very little time in the boat together, started cautiously against the small but strong field.
"We jogged all the portages, and throughout the race I kept asking him if he was alright," said McGregor. "I didn't get an answer which I took as he was battling. We pushed on and got into the last portage clean but with a big bunch."
McGregor and van der Walt were able to power away over the final eight minutes of the final lap to claim the gold medal, and the first place in the national team, from Simon van Gysen and Jasper Mocké.
Alexa Cole mirrored McGregor's achievements in the women's competition, winning the singles easily, and then adding the K2 title with Eloise van Gysen the following day.
Team Best 4 Kayak Centre's Robyn Kime took the honours in the tough women's Under 23 class, showing her timeous return to form ahead of the winter Cape racing season.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
1 Hank McGregor 2:26:44.64
2 Len Jenkins 2:26:51.58
3 Simon van Gysen 2:26:53.60
4 Jasper Mocké 2:30:58.22
5 Graeme Solomon 2:30:58.95
6 Dawid Mocké 2:34:49.01
7 Gavin White 2:37:59.23
8 Louw can Riet 2:43:17.12
9 Matthieu Gru 2:48:42.56
10 Mzamo Wayne August 2:59:08.61
1 Alexa Cole 2:19:33.21
2 Kirsten Gelderblom 2:25:37.38
3 Nikki Russell 2:34:11.79
1.Hank McGregor/Grant van der Walt 2:17:31.31
2.Simon van Gysen/Jasper Mocké 2:17:32.90
3.Lance King/Heinrich Schloms 2:17:33.63
4.Len Jenkins/Greg Louw 2:117:34.20
5.Sean Rice/Brandon van der Walt 2:17:41.01
1.Alexa Cole/Eloise van Gysen 2:13:26.07
2.Kirsten Penderis/Robyn Kime 2:15:54.41
3.Brittany Petersen/Kim Van Gysen 2:16:03.33