GODzone Adventure - Chapter 4

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The Teams Spread Out on Day Two

Rob Howard / 01.03.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Rob Howard
Rob Howard / © Anna Barrett

During the second day of the race most of the teams continued on the crossing of the Albert Burn saddle, after a long and cold night out in the mountains. Only the top 10 teams completed the trek before the sun disappeared over the hills at the end of  the second dayand there is a big gap between those 10 leading teams and the tightly grouped chasing pack.

The leaders Team Seagate, arrived at the end of the trek at TA3 in the morning, with a good lead, but were not without their problems as Chris Forne sustained a leg injury during the overnight trek. The uber-navigator said of the alpine trek, “It was more difficult nav. than I expected. It looked straight forward on the map but it wasn’t and I took a few wrong lines, but nothing major.”  Translated for most other teams that means the mountain navigation was exceptionally hard and challenging.

Team Captain Nathan Fa’avae just said the first night had been really cold and the team hadn’t taken any sleep yet.  (Many teams did stop at the Albert Burn hut, which was on the route, and at times it was crammed full with 2 to a bed, which at least might have helped racers keep warm!)

Seagate had their customary quick transition and were the first team onto the water for the canoe paddle down the Matukituki River, which was flowing well after yesterday’s rain. It also borders the rain shadow are over Lake Wanaka and while it was still showery and cold on the previous trekking stage, it was sunny and warm on the river.

At the end of the paddle Seagate moved onto the coasteering section ... although it’s not on the coast, but on the shore of Lake Wanaka around Paddock Bay.  The first part was a beach walk surrounded by magnificent scenery, which would have been comfortable if the team had not had such ore feet. But then half way around a rocky bluff fell steeply into the water and the real coasteering began with the team climbing around where they could and swimming where they had to.

Nathan Fa’avae had a smile on his face as he called across to the Race Directors. “Swimming is something only bad kayakers should do – I shouldn’t be here!” Sophie Hart lead the way, but struggled with her helmet falling over her eyes, while Chris Forne brought up the rear.  When it came to the end of the coasteering there was a 400m swim across the lake to tackle and Stuart Lynch set off strongly, and left his team well behind.

In fact he had to stop and hang on to a marker buoy to wait as the team are not allowed to become too spread out, and then swam back to help Chris Forne and take his pack, so he swam in towing two packs. Shivering on the pebble beach on the far side, and glad to be done with the stage, Fa’avae commented, “I don’t think I could have done that at night.”  That is a challenge which will face many of the teams on the second night of the race.

Seagate were glad to get onto their bikes in the afternoon sunshine and warm up on the ride to the next checkpoint at Race HQ back at the Rugby Club in Wanaka. Here they had a 5 minute time out and received the rest of their course maps before continuing on the cycling stage over the mountains to reach Queenstown.

Race Director Warren Bates said, “We have never split the maps up before like this and so we are taking the opportunity to get a video clip of each team when they come into HQ which will give a great insight into how the teams are coping.”

The leaders are being chased by the persistent and fast Swordfox team which includes former World Championship winner Brent Edwards as the team navigator. (He was in the Orion Health team which won in Brazil in 2008 as was Stu Lynch from Seagate.)  World No. 1 ranked team Columbia Vidaraid have moved up into third place after a strong alpine trek so Seagate know any mistakes or slowing of the pace will ensure they have company at the front.

When the leaders  were back in Wanaka the majority of the field had yet to cross the Albert Burn Saddle which has a checkpoint at the Whare Kea hut checkpoint situated at 1740m.

The hut is luxury mountain retreat, maintained by helicopter and that is how the clients get in and out, so teams didn’t get the chance to go inside. They could shelter a little on the balcony, where the checkpoint kite was hung and there was water available.

At that altitude the weather conditions were very different to those in the valley below with cold rain showers sweeping across and the cloud swirling around the mountain tops and obscuring the views of the peaks and glaciers all around.

In late afternoon I found Team 37, ‘More Pros Than Cons’, were at the hut checkpoint and in high spirits as they took a break, attended to their feet and boiled some water for a dehydrated meal.  Remarkably this team all competed in the Speights Coast to Coast last weekend!

“We stopped in the hut lower down for short sleep,” said Anna Barrett, “but it was packed out.” She checked her bandaged and blistered feet and ten checked the team spoon was attached to her pack as they intended to pass the meal around as they continued the trek. 

Once they were on their way the team captain Simon Trotter called out, “Remember we are not racing!” 

They are doing well nevertheless and would be one of the teams to make the next transition before dark.  Those further behind them are already having to think about racing to get to the cutoff point at 2am on Wednesday as they still have a long way to go to reach it and avoid being short coursed.

You can follow the race live at http://godzoneadventure.com/ and here on SleepMonsters. Also on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


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