The Adventure Racing World Series got off to a spectacular start for 2014 with Godzone Adventure staging the first race of the year in Kaikoura.
New Zealand is seen by many as the spiritual home of Adventure Racing as it was the venue for the first Raid Gauloises in 1989 and Godzone follows on from other iconic international expedition
races held there, including Eco-Challenge and Southern Traverse. It is a legacy Kiwi racers take very seriously and the 3rd Edition of Godzone lived up to their expectations by delivering a 520km course that took teams through the stunning coastal and mountain scenery of South Island.
The course took teams on a circuit starting and finishing in the coastal town of Kaikoura. On their epic journey they climbed Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku (CP8), the highest mountain outside of New Zealand’s Southern Alps at 2885m, mountain biked along back country trails and paddled the length of the Hununui river and the coastal waters around Kaikoura. The course was a tour de force of New Zealand’s scenery, captured in the breathtaking photographic and video images on the race’s live website.
The race tested the teams to their limits in each discipline, as well as their navigation, teamwork and tactical planning, in a non-stop competition that began at 13.00 last Monday with two opening stages that included coasteering, swimming to an off-shore island and kayaking in the turbulent waters and surf off Kaikoura.
From the early stages the race favourites and former World Champions, Team Seagate, took the lead and they were never to relinquish it. The team had won the previous two Godzone races by some distance and were determined to complete the hat-trick of wins. Climbing up through the recent snowfall on Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku and then riding through Molesworth Station they opened up a huge lead on their nearest rivals and were at points 250km ahead of the slowest teams.
The Seagate team of Nathan Fa’avae, Chris Forne, Sophie Hart and Stuart Lynch finished the race in 3 days 17 hours and 36 minutes, including an enforced 10 hour stop as they were not allowed to continue white water paddling at night. They were over 12 hours ahead of second placed team ‘R and R Sport Torpedo 7′, and the victory ensured their entry as the first qualifier in the Adventure Race World Championships to be held at the end of year in Ecuador.
Team captain Nathan Fa’avae spoke highly of the 520 km course. «It was a very challenging, particularly Mt Tapu O Nuku because there is no easy way up there. It was a great journey and one we are very proud to have finished.» He added, «We came into this event with a collective goal to start the year on a positive note, take first place and send a clear message to other international competitors that we are a team to be respected.»
Race Director Warren Bates said, «This is a signal that Seagate are back in form and lays down a challenge to others in the AR series. They raced so decisively from the get go and never let up, pushing on at every point.»
Adventure Racing is perhaps more integral to the national sporting culture in New Zealand than anywhere else and this was reflected in the results. The top 14 places went to Kiwi teams and there were only two visiting international among the 22 teams who completed the full course.
All of the teams who took part were full of praise for the course and Bates commented, «Very few injuries or pull-outs from the course indicate to us that we have the expedition length and the mix of disciplines about right. It is always a juggle to try and create a course where everyone is going to be challenged on some level and Kaikoura has certainly given us brilliant terrain to do that in.»
The race was showcased online with a live website and this attracted a huge international audience who could follow the teams’ progress via satellite tracking and detailed maps.
You can see all the video, photography, reports and teams routes on the live site at http://live.godzoneadventure.com/
The next race in the AR World Series will be Expedition Africa at the end of May.