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Great morale amongst the mid field at Skippers Canyon

Monday 27th February 2017

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By Annabelle Latz

It was all good spirits and smiles this afternoon at TA4, when competitors completed their raft down Skippers Canyon and headed out on the 38km mountain bike ‘Seven Mile.’
Team members of Rebel Foods (56) were back on track and pretty chuffed when they reached TA4 at mid afternoon.
The foursome was reduced to three on Sunday after the withdrawal of team mate Richard Usher, due to Illness.
Steve Gurney arrived at GODZone at midnight last night as replacement for the rafting section.
“I forgot how really lovely the upper Shotover River is, plus I love the technical nature. You can really make moves on other teams by just taking good lines,” he said, when the team was in transition for the 38km ‘Seven Mile’ mountain bike from Arthurs Point through to Twelve Mile Delta.
Lisa Bates from Rebel Foods (56) said it was slow going in Arrowtown earlier in the race while they gave Usher a chance to recover, subsequently ending up 14 hours behind the pace.
“So we went hard yesterday, but were caught in the dark zone last night and woke up with ice on our shoes. It was freezing!” she remarked, describing the top end of Skippers Canyon at Deep Creek where they spent the night.
All female team Alpine Recreation (38) was benefiting didn’t suffer the cold as much, and team member Elke Braun-Elwert said they have all had spurts of energy at different times, which kept overall spirits high.
“It keeps us strong. We’ll just go slow and steady, and crank it at the end,” she said.
NZ Trundlers (26) conceded the first trek ‘Bullendale’ took a bit longer than predicted, and chose to sleep for some of it rather than risk getting lost during the night.
Team mate Tim Sikma said they had a good sleep in Stone Hut last night too, awaiting the 6.45am start for the kayak down Skipppers Canyon after the Dark Zone ended.
“We managed eight hours of sleep!” said Tim.
Vicky Sandford from Kai Whakapai Wanaka (25) described the rafting this afternoon as a “nice theme for the day” after testing abseiling, trekking and canoeing they have faced so far.
“Last night we high fived and cuddled each other because we were happy to be alive. Today we got out and high fived because we had so much fun!”
Shonagh North was pleased they were on schedule, after using the timing references from Race Director Warren Bates.
“We’re not prepared for anything less!” she smiled.
Their treat to themselves will be stopping for food in Glenorchy after the Stage 7 kayak on Lake Wakatipu.
Wendy Riach from Christchurch team Morrison Cars (24) admitted wet shorts and bike shorts is not the best combination, but rafting and canoeing were still the favourites.
“The vibe amongst the teams here is pretty good,” smiled team mate Ian Huntsman.
NZ Natural Formulas (48) had a sleep on the riverbed last night mid raft, due to Dark Zone restrictions. Despite the interruption, and various highs and lows since the start gun sounded on Saturday morning, team mate Paul Ayres said they had renewed vigour after last night’s sleep, and the key from here on in is “continual forward momentum.”
Nelson based Waypoints (10) didn’t even attempt to hide its thrill for the efforts so far.
“We’ve made incredible route choices, we couldn’t be better,” said team member Tim Bygate.
He said at one stage they were way out the back, and “incredible route choices” have gained them well over a dozen places.
This evening they plan to sleep half way up Mt Crichton, ensuring they have enough rest to make the 11.59pm deadline tomorrow at Glenorchy, so they can continue and complete the long course.