Kaiteriteri is bustling with adventure racers this week as leading national and international teams arrive in preparation for the largest expedition adventure racer in the world, GODZone.
The seven-day adventure race will kick off on Saturday (April 2nd) in the Nelson Tasman area with the start location kept closely under wraps.
“ Traditionally we do not announce the start line until the day of the race. The Nelson / Tasman region has offered us a plethora of incredible locations totake the adventure and Chapter 5 is going to be like no other GODZone before it,” says Race Director Warren Bates.
Bates says the field is the most competitive yet and picking the top five teams from the contingent of the worlds best is not easy.
“ For starters I would pick team Swordfox with Stu Lynch who has multiple wins at the world championships and Brent Edwards also a world champion. This team has adventure racing pedigree and with locals Naomi Whitehead and Ash Whitehead they have a distinct advantage.”
Ex Seagate navigator Chris Forne is this year racing with team Yealands Family Wines and Bates rates their chances of success.
“ If you have Chris Forne in an adventure race and you don’t pick his team to win then it’s a very bold call. Chris is the world’s best navigator and day or night makes no difference to him so the question is can his teammates keep up with him. Local knowledge may go some way to mitigating the sizeable advantages Chris brings to the team but they are definitely there for the win.”
North America’s top three adventure teams are all racing at GODZone for the very first time and Bates says team Adventure Medical Kits are the most promising international team in the field.
“ Kyle Peter who leads that team is one of the hungriest adventure racers in the world for success and with Rob Preston, who has raced GODZone before, should make a formidable team.
They had a win at the Maya Mountain Challenge in Belize last month and have stated they want to be the first international team to win an expedition race in New Zealand for over 20 years.”
Wanaka’s Richard Anderson and his Torpedo 7 team have been high achievers in previous chapters of GODZone but Bates says if they want to go one step further and win, the team need to cut out the unnecessary errors.
“Richard is always amongst the top mix but this team are the masters of their own downfall. They placed second in Chapter 3 in Kaikoura and nearly came 3rd in Wanaka last year but then missed a CP. It seems Torpedo 7 are always the bridesmaid but never the bride.”
One of the most relaxed but experienced teams in this year GODZone is Queenstown’s RebelFood made up of Mark Williams, Baz Smith, Hadyn Key and Lisa Bates.
“ The RebelFood team are very experienced, have a lot of ability but appear not too worried about what lies ahead which is a good place to be mentally in a race of this nature,” says Bates, “ I expect they will be top five.”
Other contenders for a top ten placement out of the largest ever field in New Zealand expedition racing history includes two teams featuring older and experienced adventure racers.
“ Its great to see Dunedin’s Jim Cotter back with team Heartland Ricoh – his experience counts for a lot. Team Old & Slow made up of Duncan Hamilton, George Christison Rachel Cashin and Neil Jones will be nothing like their name “says Bates.
Past GODZone winning team Seagate is this year an all girls team made up of Sophie Hart,Lara Prince, Emily Forne and Fleur Pawsey. Bates says leadership will be the key to their outcome.
“ They have all been in strong teams in the past and this is the first time these girlshave come together. The big question is who is going to lead them to success but no question on their individual ability.
I rate some of the younger teams like Bivouac Inov led by Ryan Thompson, Cloud Based 9 led by Mirjam van den Boom and Next Generation led by Tim Farrant. These guys should be pushing further this Chapter but I don’t see them placing top five.”
Bates says teams with local knowledge will have a significant advantage racing over the 530 km adventure course much more so than in previous editions of the event. However he does not expect any team to win by a great margin. “It could come down to a dark zone or the smallest of mistakes so there will be a lot of pressure on the teams to overcome those challenges.”
GODZone Fact Box
When: 2nd – 9th April, 2016
Where: Kaiteriteri, Tasman
What: The worlds largest and most technically challenging adventure race over 7 days
Affiliated: GODZone is an official member of the AR World Series and a qualifier for the AR World Championships.
Charity: Cure Kids is the recipient charity of GODZone 2016
Text to Donate: Text GODZONE to 933 to donate $3 to Cure Kids (data charges apply) http://www.curekids.org.nz