Mtolo and Msia can’t stop winning the Non Stop

Mtolo and Msia can’t stop winning the Non Stop

Pietermaritzburg – It was hot and humid, but MyLife’s Msawenkosi Mtolo and Euro Steel’s Thabani Msia looked surprisingly untroubled by the challenges that the 2024 Non-Stop Dusi had thrown in their path when they cruised into the finish at the Kingfisher Canoe Club in Durban early on Friday afternoon.

They pair were full of smiles and enjoyed some lively back-and-forth banter with their supporters from the Change a Life Academy.

It hadn’t been an easy day and the duo, who cruised home to a fifth successive win in the demanding race, were pushed hard by the experienced pair of Sbonelo Khwela and Banetsi Nkhoesa.

The fast pace early on, combined with the shortened overall distance due to the new start at Bishopstowe Hall, meant the winning time of 7:44:24 was a new record. However, the fast pace also meant Khwela and Nkhoesa were forced to retire soon after Inanda Dam.

That allowed recently crowned Dusi Champion, Matt Fenn from East London, to slot into second overall and win the K1 category, also in a record time of 8:08:12. He was followed home by Benjamin Mntonintshi and Wongama Makasi (8:16:43), and then Mpilo Zondi and Jabulani Lucky (8:32:05).
Multiple Dusi winner Martin Dreyer and his wife Jeannie claimed a remarkable fifth overall (8:52:29) to win the mixed doubles category.

The two race winners agreed the early morning duel had been difficult.

“The guys pushed the pace so hard early in the morning,” said Msia. “Sbonelo was trying to open a gap on us. We didn’t want to fight with him.

“We knew our game plan, where we must push, and where we must rest,” he added.

“Day one,” Mtolo said, identifying the most challenging section of this year’s race. “Sbonelo and Banetsi were going to try and stay with us, but suddenly they tried to put some intervals in on the runs to make us tired. As Thabani said, we didn’t want to stick with them. We stuck to our own game plan.”

The defending champions were able to open up a gap and then tried a short cut at the Inanda Dam, but it had the opposite of the desired effect.

“We lost some time. We had a four-minute lead. Then we took a short cut and when we looked left, they were 30 seconds behind us,” Mtolo said. “From the beginning of day three, we came back together. Then, from Tops Needle, we never looked back, and they were nowhere.”

Msia weighed in: “Banetsi was cramping. We all cramp. I was cramping and my partner was cramping. It’s about the survival of the fittest. This race demands a lot of fitness and endurance, and you need to be strong mentally and physically.

“We all cramped. I think he [Banetsi] didn’t manage his cramp as well. He cramped a lot. We took out together, but when we put in at Tops Needle we broke away. That’s where the magic happened.”

Reflecting on their milestone fifth title in succession, Mtolo said: “It’s special for us. We never thought we would make it to five.

“In 2019, we wanted to get a look and a feel for the race. We weren’t chasing a position. But we told ourselves, when we come back, we want to win, and in 2020 we managed to win.” In fact, they have won every year ever since then.

Looking back on the duel with Khwela and Nkhoesa earlier the day, he said: “We know they’re very experienced, because Sbonelo has won the Non-Stop Dusi nine times, so he was going for his 10th win. Since 2020, he’s been trying for it, so we keep on stopping him,” he said with a laugh. “They had a good race and they gave it their all.”

Questioned about what they would do for recovery, Msia said: “We’ll take one week of rest, and then we’ll focus on sprints and marathons. There is no time to rest. This is our sport. We love it.”

1 Msawenkosi Mtolo and Thabani Msia 7:44:24
2 Matthew Fenn (1st K1) 8:08:12
3 Benjamin Mntonintshi and Wongama Makasi 8:16:43
4 Mpilo Zondi and Jabulani Lucky 8:32:05
5 Martin Dreyer and Jeannie Dreyer (1st MD) 8:52:29
6 Raymond Radebe (2nd K1) 8:58:46
7 Thomas Ngidi (3rd K1) 8:58:49
8 Phineas Zulu and Ryno Armdorf 9:28:24
9 Stuart Roberts (4th K1) 9:38:16
10 Ric Whitton (5th K1) 9:53:41