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A less than perfect champion finish for Pursuit defending champions

Tuesday 28th February 2017

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By Annabelle Latz

It hadn’t been quite the dream finish champion Pursuit team Virbac Animal Health (74) had predicted.
It ended up a very tight finish between them and Best Foot Forward, (83) but they claimed the win with huge smiles, meaning a back to back Pursuit victory for two of the team members Anthony Oswald and Brendan Hickman.
Along with team mates Tina Moore and Adam Stanyer, they rolled into shore at Frankton Beach at 8.16pm this evening; 3 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes after setting off from Queenstown Beach on Saturday morning, with just five hours sleep under their belt.
Oswald was buzzing and full of energy, amped from the epic 47km Stage 10 kayak from Kingston.
It hadn’t been the paddle the team had planned for.
The Stage 9 alpine trek ‘Eyre Mountains’ started well, and they had a strong lead out front.
By the end of the 35km trek, the couple of sketchy navigation decisions landing them in dense scrub and forest which they had to find their way out of, a lack of sleep, and Adam’s blown out knee, meant they were feeling less than confident about the final Stage 10 kayak.
“So we dawdled into transition, only to hear our support team saying ‘Hurry up, you’re still leading!’” said Oswald.
So they ‘stuffed down some food’ and took off hard on the kayak.
Moore kept falling asleep at the beginning of the kayak, so Oswald kept splashing her with water to keep her awake.
“I’d never been so wrecked in all my life, and we knew Bob from Best Foot Forward was a great paddler so if they got within a sniff we knew they’d haul us in,” said Oswald.
So they pushed hard.
Hickman had full praise for the support crew was huge.
“Having them do what they do was awesome,” he said.
He admitted they were all exhausted at the beginning of the kayak due to lack of fuel intake on the final trek, but once they refuelled they were on track.
Adam seriously considered calling the rescue helicopter on the Stage 9 trek, after his IT band in his knee blew out. It had been tweaking since the first day.
“I had to go to some pretty dark places in my head. But my stubborn determination got me through,” he said.
Tina said everything felt surreal on the finish line, after her first ever adventure race.
“I’ve done lots of mountain running, but trust me to jump right in the deep end,” she said with a grin.
She had huge praise for their support crew and the organisers of GODZone.
“When we were bush bashing on the trek this morning we asked each other, ‘Should we should do this again next year?!’ We did it hard out there.”
Best Foot Forward (83) were thrilled to bits with their efforts.
Bob McLachlan, his wife Cat Pattison, Franck Bocamy and Kate Baxter paddled into shore just 16 minutes after the first place getters; a huge rein in from the four hour gap there was earlier in the day.
Expecting a mid-field finish when they headed off on Saturday morning, the news of their second place standing while on the raft stage was just the fuel they needed to put the hammer down for the remainder of the race.
“Overall it was just amazing. I just wish everybody could do this race,” exclaimed Bocamy.
Baxter was quick to thank their amazing support crew, her mum and dad, and was stoked with the team’s effort on the final trek today.
“We made up three hours on that,” she said, despite having to sleep on rocks last night when they made the collective decision not to continue on dubious terrain in the dark.
Prior to the start gun, the team had expected to reach the finish line on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
Baxter said you go through emotional and physical hurdles during GODZone that no amount of training can prepare you for, but was in great spirits on the finish line and grinning from ear to ear.
McLachlan, commonly known as ‘Big Water Bob’ said the race went to plan, except for the weather which was even better.
“It was tough out there, and with novices I know what they’re in for, but they don’t.”
He said their success was due to great team work, and hanging in there.
“Our strategy was to enjoy it, and complete the full course,” he said, and added this didn’t shift even when they learned they were in second place.
“We still just wanted to race just for us,” he smiled.
Both these teams were racing to raise money for a great cause.
Virbac Animal Health was raising money for Starship Hospital, and Best Foot Forward was raising money for an electric chair for Bob’s niece Grace.
Please check out the following links for more information.

https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/godzone-team-virbac-animal-health
https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpgracegetane-bike