Anderson hoping for seventh time lucky

Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson
A record-breaking number of four-person adventure racing teams to compete in New Zealand representing the widest geographical spread of countries are in Te Anau for tomorrow's start of the first GODZone in Fiordland.

This year, the non-stop adventure race is being held over 10 days instead of seven and organisers have added a new discipline of pack rafting to the line-up which already consisted of orienteering, mountain biking, kayaking, trekking, canoeing and fixed ropes.

GODZone has been described as one of most technically challenging expeditions in the world with teams having to navigate their way through 550km (unsupported) on the Pure course and 470km (supported) on the Pursuit course.

Wanaka Torpedo 7 team captain and seven-time GODZone competitor Richard Anderson has come second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh and one year was disqualified for missing a checkpoint.

This year, he is hoping it will be seventh time lucky and he will cross the finish line first.

''We are going to be racing to win but it's like getting to the moon and back. Anything could happen, anyone could have an injury in any team, the weather could do anything, anyone could get sick, but I think we've prepared as well as we can.''

Anderson has been adventure racing since 2002 but believes it is best suited to a more mature team.

''Athletes peak in adventure racing in their 30s.''

''Although it is lovely to be super young, fit and agile this sort of event can really knock you around mentally and not much can prepare you for the sleep deprivation other than having children.''

He said a big part of the sport was being fit, strong and technically sound but there were also many strategies and teamwork, right down to the order of how they walk.

''We don't walk past our navigator because it wastes time if someone walks off the trail or the route, so there is actually a lot of protocols an inexperienced team will find out as they race.''

Apart from being team captain Anderson is also back-up navigator and logistics expert.

He said the only woman in the team, Jo Williams, brought her strength and motivation to the team, Greig Hamilton was the chief navigator as he was the reigning world rogaining champion and newcomer Sam Manson was a ''very, very strong man'' so was their ''packhorse''.

Anderson's advice for newcomers was to forget about winning and just try to finish the race.

''If you haven't done the Southern Traverse before, you probably have no idea how hard this race is going to be and holding it in Fiordland is just a completely different chapter.

''If the weather is bad, people are going to have a lot of issues with their feet and we might be looking at only 50% to 60% of the field actually finishing the race.''

Despite there being teams from Argentina, France, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, United States, South Africa and Australia, Anderson said he was most worried about beating all the Kiwi teams.

''Yealands, Tiki, and Swordfish are all our old foes. They are also our friends, so I am always happy if one of them wins but maybe they want to share this year and allow us a turn.''

Race organisers have confirmed the 10-day expedition race will start in Te Anau's town centre from 8am with 400 competitors lining up under the GODZone archway on the corner of Milford Cres and the town centre main street.

Five-time adventure racing world champion Nathan Fa'avae, of Nelson, returns this year after a three-year break from the event.

He returns with a new look team that includes wife Jodie, Mark Rayward and Dan Moore racing as team Avaya.

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