CHAPTER THREE – – The First Fifty Years

“You know, doing the ‘Berg’ more than once is certifiable”

– Charles Mason, 49-time Umko paddler, 48-time Umko finisher, 1-time Umko winner

This book will be printed before the start of the 50th Umko. This is really the story of the first 49. The stories of the 50th and 51st have been added to this website – http://www.theumko.com. Charlie has finished his 50th; Hank has won his 7th.

Umko 2017 Charles 50_4

Any other stories, photos and videos – from any year – are very welcome to be added to the website (the book has been printed – you can see the ebook at joomag. com).

Send pics and stories to admin@sheila.co.za, or write in the ‘Leave a Reply’ column below.

Also remember you can add a personalised page to the WEBSITE. The personalised page can tell your own story and include your favourite pictures! Pics like this:

You looking heroic: – – – – – – – – Your buddy swimming (the wimp!):

Tim Whitfield cropped-img_2171_std1.jpg

THE RACE ROUTE
Over the years the race route has changed. Various reasons have caused KCC to alter the route, such as:

  • Efforts to increase numbers;
  • Efforts to try and limit numbers,
  • Inaccessible roads after heavy rains,
  • Difficulties with overnight stop venues, and
  • Dare we say it? – The Hella Hella Laxative Effect?

* The race has been held every summer for 50 years consecutively.

** In ’84 the shortest race up to then, but the longest first day ever

*** In ’92 no official overnight camp. Paddlers looked after themselves at home or nearby.

50 years ROUTES.JPG

MAPS AND DISTANCES:

Umko 1989 program Route Distances

——————————————————————–

THE PRIZE-GIVING
When the race finished at the sea the Lido Hotel in the village of Umkomaas would be the venue. This is the same hotel that had put up Player and Schmidt when they first navigated the Umko, and put up with Gouldie when he told his tall tales (though it was called the South Barrow Hotel when Player & Schmidt paddled).

The pool area was visible through full-length windows from the restaurant and one year innocent patrons were treated to some skinny dipping by exuberant paddlers, including a full frontal that – apparently – McSlayed the ladies and an eyeful of one famous rear which – apparently – could have won an Oscar.

——————————————————
Prize-Giving Venues over the years

Lido Hotel
Plaza Hotel
Beachfront Restaurant, Umkomaas village
‘Toti Town Hall
Westville Hotel
Umbogintwini Club
Richmond Country Club

Finish Rob Davey

Stalwarts (or “The Certifiable Ones”) – These 18 people have each done more than half the total Umkos to date!

Name Completed

Charles Mason 

Rob Bourne-lange

Rob Davey

Dave Biggs

Guy Haines

Mark Perrow

Richard Starr

Chris Watts

Mike Frizelle

Tim Platt

Colin Simpkins

Hugh Raw

Meyer Steyn

David Gillmer

Graeme Pope-Ellis

Tony Botes

Owen Hemingway

Ken Reynolds 

48

41

37

35

32

32

32

32

31

30

30

29

29

28

27

26

26

25

Another 171 paddlers have done ten or more, earning them race numbers in perpetuity. Included are (at least) six ladies, Antje Manfroni (16), Debbie Germiquet (13), Penny Meakin (11), Diana Rietz, Patricia Stannard & Colleen Whitton (all 10). WHO’S MISSING PLEASE? (Elle de la Porte?).

The first ladies to paddle the Umko without a male in the boat were Dusi champs Marlene Boshoff and twin sister Jenny Bentel in 1986 and the first to complete it in a single was Lorna Oliver as a junior.

And lastly – but far from leastly – one thousand four hundred and ninety three paddlers have done ONLY ONE Umko – thus escaping “Charlie’s Rule of Certifiability!” (of course, he’ll hasten to tell you that maxim only counts for the Berg!).

BUT EVEN YOU SANE ‘ONCE-OFF-ers’ CAN SEND US YOUR STORIES!
In fact, even someone who has entered ONE and finished NONE could have A Good Story To Tell! Here’s one.
Write to admin@sheila.co.za or write in “Leave a Reply” below.

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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