Drak Challenge defending champion Andy Birkett is aiming for a fourth win in a row when the event takes place in the Southern Drakensberg on January 21 and 22.
The Pietermaritzburg-based Euro Steel star is working his way back to top form after a well-earned breather following his podium finishes at the World Marathon Championships and the Fish Marathon in October.
He sees the Drak Challenge as a key building block in his 2017 Dusi campaign.
While the three-day classic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban is Birkett’s summer priority, he makes no bones about his preference for using Underberg as a training base.
“From a training point of view being based in Underberg is so beneficial. The Drak is such a fun event and a fun river to paddle on that I really want to spend time up there,” said Birkett.
After making his Drak debut as a schoolboy, it took Birkett eight years to tackle the race again. This year he will be aiming for his 10th Drak, which will make him part of the small group of Drak Trout paddlers to have completed this unpredictable race 10 times.
While he has won the last three races, he is quick to claim a fair portion of good fortune in those victories.
“There were strong fields and I can’t really remember how those races worked out, but I do believe I have had quite a bit of luck.”