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Another Cracker Kaikoura Adventure Race

Press Release / 02.06.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
The 2024 Kaikoura Adventure Race
The 2024 Kaikoura Adventure Race / © EcoZip Flying Fox Adventures

Kaikoura Adventure Race is known and adored for its laid back, hard core bunch of athletes who come to race over the four events. They are admired their commitment to fitness, grit, sheer determination, and the sense of humours they bring with them. 

Kaikoura Adventure Race was another success this year, a milestone race with the inaugural 48 hour option.

There were plenty of school children taking part too, as part of the South Island Secondary School Championships, taking part in three, six and 12 hour events.

Co-race directors Bin Kennedy, Tane Cambridge and Tim Farrant really enjoy seeing the school team numbers continue to grow every year, always a lot of fun and enjoyable to see school teams battle it out.

Once again, Bin, Tane and Tim could not thank local landowners enough for their generosity, opening up their farms and allowing this popular event to exist.

“We are so aware of the juggle of stock, which is particularly tricky this year with the drought causing a lack of feed and stock water on the hill blocks where dams are to dry up, we really cannot thank them enough because without them it would not be possible,” said Bin.

As always, the extensive list of generous sponsors, volunteers and businesses were a significant part of the success of the weekend,

Many of the TA crews were out there for 48 hours, and the crews on the shorter course were getting 740 competitors through their TA areas, which was no small feint.

“Our trusty Kaikoura community crew are joined from our Canterbury, Dunedin and Blenheim friends who always come to help.They are such an amazing bunch we are so grateful to have them as part of our team,” said Bin.

Race director Tim Farrant’s comments on the 48 hour race:

“I expected the premier 48 hour race to be an epic battle of the top teams adventure racing teams in New Zealand, and it didn't disappoint.

A relative newcomer, team Further Faster led by Holly Weston were the flying on the first stages (on and off the water), but they were being chased hard by Team Circuit Logistics led by Jeremey MacKenzie, and also Chris Forne and Tom Schnek of team Golden Ticket.

The lead switched between these teams over the course of the first day, like a game of cat and mouse, but by nightfall Golden Ticket had a measurable lead over the teams behind.

We threw the teams a curveball by holding back the second half of the maps until they reached Cloudy Range Station that night. This required teams to think on their feat with choosing their route choice on these later stages. It was also the point where teams became aware of the dark zone on the Clarence River. For the lead teams this would mean time for a sleep on the riverbank, for the slower teams, this would be a time to catch up.

The chasing pack of teams, including Ems Power Cookies, a youth team based in Christchurch managed to get over to the Clarence by daybreak on Day 2 of the race.

With a high flow, the leaders and the chasing pack had a quick, but very cold paddle down the upper Clarence in the morning. A leaky boat slowed down Golden Ticket, allowing Gearshop and Circuit Logistics to get ahead. Teams reported exhilarating descents down rapids. The stunning alpine scenery was a contrast to concentration required to pick the fast lines.

The race leaders arrived at Palmer Stream together and were greeted with an offering of hot drinks, lolly bags and encouragement. Here teams  deflated their rafts, and loaded up for a hike over to Palmer Saddle to the Conway River. Straightforward at first, this got very technical quickly as the former stock track was well overgrown. For the later teams doing this in the dark this section would prove a nightmare of many hours spent lost and disorientated, and requiring a great deal of concentration to find the way out of the bush.

Part way down the Conway River the 48 hour teams were confronted with another decision - whether to hike along a farm track up and over Conway Spur, or to follow the easy travel down rocky river bed. Most teams, including the new race leaders, Team Gearshop and Golden Ticket  opted for the seemingly conservative choice of the farm track, but team Further Faster chose the riverbed and made up significant time, jumping past Circuit Logistics and into 3rd place.

After a refuel of hot soup, the teams re-mounted their bikes and headed for a final foot rogaine stage. Golden Ticket transitioned quickly, getting a 5 minute head start on Team Gearshop, who were in pursuit. Night fell soon after, and this is when the good navigators into their own. Chris Forne, a former world champion navigator was taking direct lines, picking up the features in the dark, but Darron Jones and Dave Quested, the navigators of Team Gearshop were also ticking off the features cleanly and their route choice was more efficient. By travelling a shorter distance with less climb, they were able to visit the same number of checkpoints as Golden Ticket in less time, and pull ahead into the lead of the race.

With only a short bike ride to go, the race to the finish was on. Team Gearshop arrived at the finish first, completing the full course at 11:30pm, a total course time of just over 39 hours. Golden Ticket finished at 11.50pm, 39 hours, 20 minutes and Further Faster at 2.06am, a course time of 41 hours, 36 minutes.”

South Island Secondary School Championship event, as recalled by course planner Aaron Prince and Kaikoura High School teacher Alan Temoananui.

The day dawned crisp with sun, blue sky and only a light breeze to welcome the students. Race HQ was a hive of activity with children and parents getting ready. Micro management was evident everywhere maps, clothing, bikes, food and fluids were being ticked off lists left right and centre.

The core disciplines were mountain biking and orienteering, the teams of four also did a rope bridge over a pond and abseiling down a 15m cliff. 

The mountain bike stage required them to ride down shingle riverbeds and cross rivers, while the orienteering stages were in Manuka scrub and farmland. 

The largest school entry was Cashmere High School with 78 entries. Some  KaikĊura High School teams prepared and participated as part of their PE curriculum, being able to learn and apply the various Adventure Racing skills required. 

Darfield High School had 10 entries in total and the top of the south were also well represented with teams from Nayland College, Golden Bay, Motueka, Waimea and also Garin College.This represents the impressive landscape and opportunities that these schools are able to draw on and train in. In the12 hour schools event, there were 22 teams entered Cashmere and Motueka High Schools have always been well represented in the past and have traditionally been quite strong in this field.

At the halfway point in the 12 hour event, it was Cashmere High School team Stingray leading, followed by team Lolly Scramble and then team Out of Control. Teams did the last hour in the dark. Lots said this was the highlight of their race as there was a long stream of bikes with their lights on following the farm tracks to the finish in the Surrey Downs home paddock. 

The younger Year Five and Six students were required to have a parent shadowing them around the course. Their main complaint was that their parents were slowing them down especially on the downhill mountain bike sections. 

Jackson Godsiff, a senior student at Kaikoura High School who was entered in the 3 hour event said that he was “Stoked to have finished without throwing up!” Having had no previous experience, he was glad to have had the support of his team mates, Lachlan Fissenden and Devon Hole. When the team came over the line, Lachlan was buzzing and already thinking about the training needed for the 6 hour event next year. All in all, a well organised event in a fantastic location.

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