GODzone Adventure - Chapter 4

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Down the Makarora

Rob Howard / 27.02.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Arriving at TA1
Arriving at TA1 / © Rob Howard

The early stages of Godzone have been challenging and run true to form.

As teams reached the fixed ropes below the Brewster Glacier, close to the terminal moraine and lake, they received the bad news from the guides that the glacier trek had been called off due to the bad weather. They had to descend back the way they’d come and continue with the rest of the trek.

It’s a real disappointment for the race which had planned the spectacular glacier trek for the start, and for the teams, although in the cold and cloudy conditions some may have felt the change of plan was good news. Most of those I spoke to said it was quite cold at the foot of the glacier and would have been really cold higher up.

Their troubles were not over however, as the low cloud made the navigation on the rest of the trek very difficult. Teams had to descend a ridge then drop down steeply through the bush to get back to the Makarora River, then follow a trail alongside the river to get to the TA.  In the dense mist and cloud it was hard to find the way and coming into the transition the teams were much more spread out then had been expected so early in the race.

The fact that Seagate were the first team to arrive in the TA was no surprise. They had quickly stamped their authority on the race and lead from the outset, arriving at the TA with a 9 minute lead over Team Absolute Wilderness.

They quickly set about inflating their two canoes (teams have to have their own pumps) and transitioning to the whitewater paddle down the Makarora.  After a scramble down the steep bank the put in was in a small rapid, but with the water very low Nathan Fa’avae opted to paddle solo for a few metres and Sophie Hart ran down the bank to join him at the foot of the rapid.

It may be a long race but those little tactical decisions make a difference. Fa’avae also carefully inspected the canoes before inflating them and rejected on he didn’t like the look of.

Absolute Wilderness tried to paddle down the rapid and in the heavier canoe were briefly stuck and spun around, making a slower start on the water. They had also mistakenly left transition missing a helmet and only realised a few kms down the river!  One of the team had to run back for it, and they lost 2nd place to Team Swordfox as a result.

There was a 23 minute gap then to Team Tiki Tour in 4th place. This team had one of their own boats, as do quite a few of the Kiwi teams. The race offered them at cost price to the teams (a significant saving) and said those bringing their own boats could have a $400 discount to future races.  It’s a way for the race organisation to reduce the size of the canoe fleet they have to buy, and for the teams to have a practice canoe.

Torpedo Seven were next, making it an all kiwi top five and these were the local teams expected to do best.  Columbia Vidaraid were the first visiting team to arrive in 6th place and they were hard pressed by Team Next Generation. As Vidaraid hustled through transition they dropped a compass, but luckily Marco Anselem checked the ground where they had changed before they left and picked it up.

Next Generation were quicker in transition, with 2 team members pumping up the canoes and the others packing, while Vidaraid all got changed first, then started on the boats.

While the chasing teams struggle in the misty mountains the leaders are descending the gentle rapids of the Makarora on their way to TA2. The weather remains very wet and the leaders will be looking to start the Alpine trek on stage 3 and complete the early river crossings in the daylight.

You can follow the live race coverage at http://godzoneadventure.com and right here on SleepMonsters.


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