A desire to challenge perceptions within the typically
male-dominated adventure racing community has led to one of
the most popular female-only multisport events in the country
- this year being held in Queenstown for the first time.
The annual Spring Challenge adventure race, now in its
seventh year, will see 936 women compete in teams of three in
the three, six and 10-hour disciplines across the Wakatipu
basin, on a course that will not be revealed until Friday.
Additionally, this year there is a new section for secondary
school girls over the age of 16.
Race director Nathan Fa'avae, a world-champion adventure
racer, said the event - comprising hiking, mountain biking
and rafting - was held in a different location every year. It
had not previously been held in the resort, largely due to
''It's in spring, obviously, and we have typically stayed in
the upper South Island, because the springtime weather
conditions are so different there.
''As the event grows in years, we're looking further afield
as to where we go.
''It is a little bit of a risk for us coming this far
The event was born of a desire to expose women to adventure
racing, and prove to adventure racers women were interested
in the sport.
''It gives women an opportunity to get out and try adventure
racing and do something challenging.
''We designed the event to cater for a new market and try and
introduce people to the sport that wouldn't otherwise have
done it before.
''I guess it is primarily male-dominated, certainly at a
professional level, and that's partly how this event came
Fa'avae - himself a professional adventure racer - said he
had ''always questioned'' why it needed to be male-dominated.
A typical professional team comprises three men and a woman.
''So many women are [involved in] adventure sport, so one of
my motivations to launch the event ... was to prove there's a
lot more women out there interested in this sport than they
Fa'avae said the event was designed to be challenging but
achievable for women of all ages and all fitness levels.
It was not uncommon for three generations of a family to
enter as a team and a large number of women in their 50s and
60s had entered.
Jodie Fa'avae said 50% of the entrants were over the age of
40 and in a team of three the combined age was about 120.
''It's pretty cool. There are a huge number of mums who have
just decided it's time to put their hands up and do something
''The majority are in it for a good time. That's what I love
about it,'' she said.
The teams will be briefed and receive the details of the
course on Friday.
The course is also available on the Spring Challenge website
from Friday afternoon, for anyone interested in watching the
Teams will set off in stages from 6am Saturday and the last
team is likely to come in about 3am Sunday, before a
prizegiving brunch at the Queenstown Events Centre.