The fast, the keen, the exhausted and the smelly have arrived
or are due to arrive in Queenstown this week after completing
one of the world's most scenic yet challenging races.
The Godzone Adventure race began on Sunday on New Zealand's
highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook,
and continued to amaze the competitors, who - after all the
sleep deprivation and arguments with team members throughout
the week - returned with a smile.
What makes the race so good? I asked Magellan team member and
Wanaka resident Jo Williams, who arrived with her team-mates
after 99 hours on the trot.
''I don't know ... It's amazing trekking through all that
country. It's just stunning.
''It was a great few days; it was a real adventure.''
OK, so the scenery is good, but why not take a walk, a bike
or a kayak at a leisurely pace, with sleep somewhere in
Last week, before the race, Team Orion Health member Wayne
Oxenham told me adventure racing was an addiction and since
he started 10 years ago he had been unable to stop. Not even
his 2-year-old girl, Ashley, could stop it.
He admitted he had slowed down in the competitive stakes and
this year was entering for the pure ''fun'' of it.
Defending champion and 2013 winner Team Seagate crossed the
finish line on Wednesday in 75 hours and 25 minutes, having
slept for less than two hours during the entire race -
showing exactly why it is current world champion at this
The fifth-placed Magellan team, which included Mike Kelly and
Tom Lucas, both of Queenstown, and Mike Walker, of Auckland,
decided while trekking towards Hawea they would sleep rather
than make the canoe leg through the night, and disadvantaged
itself by eight hours, Ms Williams said.
''It was a crucial thing trying to get there and we needed to
sleep. We had a sleep!''We were cruising along and then
realised we could make it. That was one of the lowlights of
the team. It was tough; we were all down.''
As it turned out, the team closest in time to Magellan,
sixth-placed Moa Hunters, could not find one of the last
checkpoints and the eight-hour disadvantage did not change a
Magellan was sixth at last year's inaugural Godzone and fifth
this year - so will it be back for another round?
''Oh gosh, we haven't discussed that. We would like to be.''
New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt Cook, was the official
start location for the race on Sunday morning.
Competitors traversed glaciers on fixed ropes using ice axes
and crampons before heading to the Mueller Hut and back down
to Lake Tasman.
They paddled among icebergs on the Moraine Lake then
whitewater rafted on the Tasman River to Lake Pukaki.
After this, teams transferred to their bikes at Braemar
Station and by nightfall some of the lead teams had trekked
over the Dingle Burn mountain range near the Ahuriri Valley -
testing even leading team Seagate and leading one team, Team
Thule from France, to pull out of the race.
The course headed towards Passburn on the south side of the
Lindis Pass, where competitors cycled over Mt Grand then
onward to Albert Town near Wanaka, where a kayak leg was to
follow on the Clutha River and Lake Dunstan to Lowburn near
The final stages of the race took
the remaining competitors over the Pisa Mountain range to the
Snowpark Lodge for another transition to their bikes for a
fast leg down to Arrowtown.
Before getting on the Queenstown Trail back to the resort,
teams had a go on the Canyon Swing one-by-one.