Day two of GODZone adventure has dawned with the lead teams hitting the highest point in the race up and around Mt Tapuae O Uenuku in the Kaikoura region. Team Seagate went through the top checkpoint at 7.25am in first position.
They are hard core in their approach at this early stage of the race and on track to perhaps widen their lead as they head down into the Hodder Valley and on to the bike ride through Molesworth Station this afternoon.
The mountain descent has been modified slightly this morning due to heavy snow in the valley but nothing seems to be slowing Seagate. They are a good few hours ahead and smashing our predicted fast times at this stage,” says Race Director Warren Bates.
Team Absolute Wilderness have held second position overnight with Team Chimpanzee Bar in third.
“ Its tough going up there so these lead teams are showing strength being only three or four hours behind Seagate. Team Absolute Wilderness are using their localised knowledge and are very well respected around here for their competitive edge.
Jim Cotter and his team Chimpanzee are solid and picking some good lines which is what they need to keep doing to hold. I expect they will keep pushing and the gap back to the mid field teams will increase. Those middle teams are all still travelling over the Clarence River this morning towards the mountain.”
Casualties on the race so far include disappointment for international media team Merrell whose female member Catalina Gerstle having to pull out due to a knee injury. The team is continuing on unranked with three members. Australian team Sheep Eaters have had team member Jason Wallington stop racing due to illness. And team Mobiliser Openwire also from Australia are continuing on without team member Andre Morkel due to a leg injury.
“ This is the nature of the second day of racing where we will start to see injury occur and team members being pushed way beyond their physical or mental boundaries. It is a challenging course with a lot of difficult terrain but so far the bulk of the teams are making good navigation decisions and moving consistently,” says Bates.
Racing at Day two of the GODZone adventure has centred around Mt Tapuae O Uenuku led by Team Seagate who reached the summit early in the morning.
As the mid field slowly made their way up the highest mountain outside the Southern Alps, Nathan Fa avae and his team ran into the fourth transition point at the bottom of the mountain just after 3pm this afternoon.
On arrival they were in high spirits with Chris Forne saying “We are loving this course” especially the trek stage.The course wasn’t quite wild enough for me but this years is definitely delivering and there’s plenty more wild to come, so we are loving it.”
Race director Warren Bates says Team Seagate’s impressive performance is indicative of their racing style. Since the GODZone started downtown Kaikoura yesterday afternoon the top team have travelled over 122 km in 25 hours and 51 minutes.
“ The trade off for two days racing without sleep for these guys is that its progressively harder for the other teams to catch them. They now have a 151 bike ride through the Molesworth Station and then a relatively short 35km trek over the Glynn Wye range before the Hurunui River section. So their strategy maybe to keep racing until they get to the river where the dark zone kicks in at 8.30pm forcing them to catch some sleep.”
Racing in second place are Dan Moore, Dan Busch, Naomi Whitehead and Jeremy Mckenzie of Team Absolute Wilderness from Picton and Nelson.
“ What an interesting package these guys are,” says Warren. “ They slipped under the radar and surprised us all – the question is can they continue racing this fast over four to five days.”
Christchurch team Vida de Aventura led by renown female racer Sia Svendsen with Brent Edwards, Mark Rayward and Charlie Murray have slid into third place.
“ We are delighted to see Sia leading this pack of hard core men into a top third position. They will have benefited from the quality navigation from Brent Edwards overnight last night on Mt Tapu and Charlie Murray is a strong competitor despite this being his first expedition race.”
The first internationally ranked teams are Team Moxi AR from the Ireland currently racing in 12th position and Aussie’s Team BMX Bandits in 13th place.
“ Moxie came together specifically for the GODZone and have good experience from racing back home in Ireland. Their female member Sabrina Verjee raced at the World Champs in Costa Rica last year and is a solid adventurer,” says Bates.
At the back of the field is the oldest team in the event Taranaki Hardcore who struggled to find the third transition area over night from yesterdays 53km bike leg out of Kaikoura.
“ We were watching them on the live tracker on the website and it was so frustrating watching the team go around and around in circles. They literally came within 50 meters of the right track and then walked backwards,” says Bates.
38 teams are currently on the GODZone full course with three teams unranked today.
“ International teams Merrell from the UK and Europe and two Australian teams the Sheep Eaters and Mobiliser Openwire have all lost a member to illness or light injury but they are continuing on unranked,” says Bates.