“Umpetha”, iSiZulu for “Champion”, is a fitting term for the first seeding race each season for the iconic Dusi Canoe Marathon as many champions – past, current and future – take to the start line of this race from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall annually.
Organised, administered and run by the development arm of KwaZulu Natal Canoe Union, the event was first born in 2012 under the auspices of Natal Canoe Club.
A sound first edition – won by Len Jenkins Jnr. and Abby Adie respectively – was hotly followed by a hugely successful 2013 staging that saw the event go on to be voted the ‘One Day Race of the Year’ at the 2013/14 KNCU Annual Awards evening.
The race’s 2014 edition saw the now popular event establish a new identity and with it, a new name as it transitioned from the ‘NCC Development Race’ into the ‘Umpetha Challenge’.
In 2015 the race shifted slightly on the calendar, moving back from October to early November as organisers looked to create heightened synergy between the event and the greater pre-Dusi paddling season.
In 2017 the race had to be cancelled due to water release issues during the drought period.
In 2018 the race moved base from NCC to the KwaZulu Natal Canoe Union and became part of a trio of races run by the paddlers of the KNCU Development Projects.
In 2020 the race returned to NCC’s control to form part of the MyLife Dusi Series
Since it’s inception the race has enjoyed the unwavering support of the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation.