GODzone Adventure - Chapter 4

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Finishing Godzone Chapter 4

Rob Howard / 05.03.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Alex Pilkington
Alex Pilkington / © Rob Howard

Into the 5th night and the 6th day of the race the weather was still giving the teams and the organisation some additional challenges, and teams were still racing hard to the finish line.

The rising wind on the furthest part of paddle course had caused teams a lot of difficulty as the afternoon of Day 5 progressed, with the wind and chop causing a couple of capsizes and both Team Chimpanzee Bar and Bivouac Inov-8 pulled ashore for their safety.  Race safety boats were out there and the coastguard as well, and when Bivouac got going again they followed along behind. Chimpanzee Bar were not so sure of themselves in the conditions and ceded a place Bivouac as they waited to get going again.

The final paddle course was shortened by this time and was still difficult as the winds kept blowing and increasing.  At one point in the night the marshals on the shore at the finish called for help as kayaks were blowing off trailers. When Team BMAC Cycle World were paddling in the night the winds forced them ashore on the short course.  They managed to get going again but after this the paddle was called off entirely and teams then followed a cycle track around the shore and back to the finish from the final TA.

The closest finish of the night was between team GBR Lakesmultisport and Breen Homes who finished in that order 5 minutes apart for 7th and 8th places, and the British team admitted that if the paddle had gone ahead it might well have been the other way around.

Their team has considerable experience of long races, with full course finishes for Anthony Emmet and Alex Pilkington in both the French and Costa Rican World Champs (both of which had very few full course finishers) and they were joined by experienced Kiwi racer Seamus Miekle.  However, for Jo Thom it was a first expedition race, and the team were delighted with their result, one of the best by any visiting international team.

Even so the terrain and toughness of the course here had been an eye-opener for them. Alex Pilkington, sporting a nasty black eye after losing an argument with a rock, said, “We found the stages all a few hours too long and arduous. We allowed 30% to 50% extra on the estimated times for our planning but it was more like 100% and were out of food at every transition.”

Anthony Emmet added, “The trouble is you never know how brutal a race is going to be until it’s too late and you are really beaten up. I think if we’d slept more earlier in the race we might have done better – but you don’t know that at the time.”

“The grasses and tussocks here are sharp and spiky,” Pilkington added, “and we planned our route to avoid the marshy areas, as in the UK you’d sink into them.  That was a mistake as here they were soft underfoot and easy to cross.  As a navigator I also found that making the 21 degree magnetic declination adjustment was something extra to think about all the time, while I’m sure the Kiwis just do it as second nature. I struggled with the maps a bit too as they are better at home. Here you’d get bluffed out when nothing was marked on the map, so that took a bit of adjustment.”

 “We shared the navigation. Seamus helped, I did the treks and Ant did the bike rides and the ‘magic forest’ orienteering. We called it that because at night in there is was pretty freaky and we did 12 of the CP’s at night before deciding to sleep.”

They passed the Breen Homes team in the orienteering stage and managed to hang on to their place to the end, just.  Breen Homes were the local Wanaka family team, with legendary racers Andrea and Keith Murray coming back to racing in their 50’s to compete with their sons, Charlie (18) and Craig (16).  Their 8th place was a fantastic result and their tactics a little different to most teams. They carried a big tent and air mattresses and slept more than any other teams right from the start of the race, a tactic that paid off.

Race Director Warren Bates said, “They took a family camping holiday on Godzone!” The team had a rousing reception in the middle of the night with music pumping out of the back a truck at the finish and a specially prepared ski with 4 drinking glasses attached, which they all drank from in a line at once.

Some more prizes were awarded in the night at well. Team Next Generation finished in 6th place and won the Young Guns trophy and the One Direction team were awarded the Legends trophy – the team has a combined age of 209!

Teams are still coming into the finish line on Friday and the race is now preparing the Rugby Club HQ for this afternoon’s social and BBQ as the weather is very wet and everyone needs to come inside.


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