By Dave MacLeod | Gameplan Media
Respected Czech Republic marathon paddler Petr Mojžíšek has added his name to the entry list for the upcoming Berg River Canoe Marathon, joining Hungarian former world champion Adrián Boros in a strong looking international team heading for the four day classic from 12 to 15 July.
The 40 year-old veteran from Jesenice in Prague is a big man, and will almost certainly be the biggest, and heaviest paddler in the field, but the likeable Czech ace said that he had already made up his mind to return to the race after finishing his debut Berg last year.
“I had already decided to come back at the finish line in Velddrif last year,” he said candidly. “I like tough challenges like the Berg and when I was offered an opportunity to try it once more, the obvious choice for me was to go.”
Mojžíšek finished sixth last year, racing in tough, low river conditions, but says the prospect of another low river has not put him off.
“A low river is not good for me, that is for sure,” he said. “Let’s see if the rain comes and allows me to fight for the podium.
“I remember some of the Berg veterans saying that each year is different and has its own specialities. My approach will be to try to repeat what worked for me and try to avoid mistakes I made in 2016,” he added.
He said that his first ever experience on the Berg had been a profound one for him.
“I can now say that I know the race – this is a very proud statement from me,’ said Mojžíšek. “But I have only done it once – this is more precise.”
Mojžíšek excelled in a fast-paced, tough race dominated by eleven times champion Hank McGregor last year, but is quick to point out that McGregor’s absence will not affect the character of the title race that much.
“Nothing really changes for me with no Hank at the start,” he said. “Every vacuum will be filled. There are so many good paddlers in South Africa and I am sure they will enter the race seeing the opportunity to win.”
The big Czech star has a passion for long distance marathon races, but cautions that he has not been able to get into the sort of condition needed to win the 2017 Berg.
“I am not in the shape that would allow me to think about winning the race. I believe if I am lucky, I can be in top 5 but not much better,” he said.
The gentle giant made a lot of friends in 2016, many of whom will look forward to his skill and tenacity being part of the 2017 race from Paarl to the West Coast.
The Berg River Canoe marathon starts in Paarl on 12 July and ends at Velddrif on 15 July. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za