Two-time defending K2 champion Jenna Ward will team up with the young and exciting Under 18 star Saskia Hockly for the 2021 Fish River Canoe Marathon from 8-9 October following a whirlwind return from Romania.
The pair will fight it out for the K2 title at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Romania under a week before they team up for a crack at the national K2 river marathon title in Cradock.
The intense travel isn’t foreign to Ward who has done it on a number of occasions and for the Mount Edgecombe resident the travel is actually a positive for her and Hockly.
“I don’t see the travel back as an issue because it gives us two to three full days off the water to rest and recover,” the Euro Steel star said. “In the past I have flown from Tahiti, jumped straight in a car to get to Cradock so I’m used to long trips back before we get in the car and drive down to the Fish.
“Being off the water for three days will give us enough time to recover fully from the racing in Romania and I see that as a positive.”
The focus for the pair is fully on the World Marathon Championships coming up next week however they have both given the Fish some thought given the close proximity of the event to the world’s and the logistical plans.
“Our focus is entirely on marathon worlds given that we haven’t raced internationally for two years so it is a big thing for us, and we have raced a lot locally in the last year.
“Fish is SA K2 and one of my favourite races on the calendar so Saskia and I have thought about it and have jumped in our river boat just to test it out.
“We drive down the day after we get back from Romania so we’ve had to get all of our equipment and everything sorted out now so we are ready to go when we get back,” Ward explained.
The pair has shown that they are a real force having sprinted to the national marathon title earlier this year, but they have also produced strong surfski results which also highlights their diversity ahead of a maiden river marathon.
“Saskia and I teamed up during lockdown last year and so haven’t been able to test ourselves in all the disciplines and haven’t paddled in a river race together yet.
“It will only be Saskia’s second Fish after she paddled in a double with her dad as a young girl, so this will be the first time she’s going to be racing it competitively.
“We are so comfortable in a boat together and understand one another and have so much fun in a boat together so it makes it enjoyable.”
Getting back on the Fish River following last year’s cancellation is something that Ward is really looking forward to.
“I love the Fish probably a little bit more than other races because there is not as much running!” she laughed.
“I love the big and fast-flowing water! It does throw quite a challenge at you but I am confident on the river having paddled the race quite a few times.
“It’s so much fun and it’s going to be the perfect way to end off a long season of marathon training so I am really looking forward to that.
“Also to be racing with Saskia who has come so far in the last two years and if we could win the title it would be phenomenal for her at such a young age and this is just the beginning for her,” an expectant Ward added.