Seasoned Spanish racer Kiko Vega has shaken up the upcoming N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB by discreetly slipping in an entry for the event on the uMzimkhulu River on 19 and 20 January.
Vega, who is a former winner of the fabled Sella Descent in Spain, is no stranger to South African river races, and proved his pedigree with a fast finishing third in the recent Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in October, in addition to solid results in the Berg River Canoe Marathon in the past.
The blond flyer from Asturias said that he was fascinated by what he knew of the Drak Challenge and planned to leave the cold European winter to take on the top class field that this race always attracts.
“My idea of doing the Drak is a result of the admiration that I have for South African athletes, and the respect the paddlers have for each other,” said Vega.
“I think the South African competitions are the most physically and tactically demanding in the world,” he added.
“When you race in South African you have to know and put into practice all the tactics, techniques and experiences you have gathered, and you have to push yourself to the limit physically,” the Spaniard said.
He said that the network of contacts that he has built up over the years had helped make his dream of doing the Drak Challenge a reality.
One of his Spanish sponsors stepped in to start the logistics of travelling to KwaZulu-Natal for the Asturian, and he has also been assisted by Set Kayaks, Gara Paddles, Euro Steel, Aipolaventura, esc petroleos, and Hokoesport.
He said that he planned to allow at least five days to get to know the 70km course of the uMzimkhulu used for the Drak Challenge.
“I hope to be up to the demands of the race!” he concluded.