When she tasted victory at the KZN Mixed Doubles Champs on a full uMzimkhulu River in mid-December with her brother Hamish Mackenzie, Christie Mackenzie signalled her intentions to return to the N3TC Drak Challenge on 28 and 29 January to go one better than her runner-up result of last year.
She was full value for her second place to seasoned Drak women’s winner Abby Solms, and has shown since then that her form and experience will make her a strong contender for a maiden Drak women’s title.
Mackenzie spent four days with a block of the Team Euro Steel paddlers preparing for the KZN Mixed Doubles Champs, training on a full uMzimkhulu River that evoked memories of the sublime full river conditions enjoyed at last year’s Drak Challenge.
Mackenzie has made some big changes to her training regime and has moved from Johannesburg, where she finished her Psychology honours studies, to Durban and has joined Matt Bouman’s training squad.
“It’s a totally new training regime and I am doing a lot of cross-training that I wasn’t doing before,” said Mackenzie. “It has added a whole new dimension to my paddling, which has been really beneficial to me.”
Having medalled at the world marathon champs and won many big titles including the Dusi, the prestigious Drak title has eluded Mackenzie, and makes it a priority at the start of the 2023 racing year.
“The Drak has been my near-miss race!” she concedes. “This year I definitely have my sights set on the top step of the podium.”
Mackenzie’s bid to claim the SA K1 River title at the Fish Marathon was stymied by missing her batch start on the final day, but the fact that she walked away with the fastest women’s time over that final stage gives her important encouragement going into the Drak Challenge.
“It shows that my training is definitely working for me and I have the potential to be up there,” she says.
“It all comes down to making sure I don’t make any mistakes and I execute the race as best I can,” she added.
“I am definitely not taking any prisoners this year,” she added with conviction.