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Newsletter 2 – Chapter 7

A massive thanks to you all for supporting Chapter 7, hosted by the stunning Fiordland National Park. This Newsletter will provide you with key bits of information about the event. If you or your team mates, friends, family or supporters wish to keep up to date with developments then please remember to visit or like our Facebook page. If this Newsletter raises any questions or, if you are uncertain about any aspect of the event, please get in touch with us via the Contact Us page. We look forward to seeing you in 2018 for a Chapter Like No Other!

- Warren Bates (Race Director)

General Housekeeping

Given the amount of information released in Newsletter 1 this will be a deliberately brief Newsletter. Please ensure you read this and Newsletter 1 carefully. We recommend doing so whilst cross referencing the Mandatory Gear List, there are a number of clues about what lies ahead for the eagle eyed.

If you have been to a previous Chapter of GODZone you will know that we like to things to run smoothly.  Check out the general housekeeping items below for your attention. We encourage all teams (and in particular, team captains and/or administrators) to ‘action’ any items that require some form of input, in a timely fashion – it will help ensure that you have the best possible event experience.

Team Information

We are at the point where we are very keen to release the team list. It’s a ripper. It will be added to the website and released to the media when you wonderful team captains or administrators have provided us with a bit more information about yourselves (accessible from the Team Login page with your team administrators email and password). Competitors can update their team and team member information at any time by following the instructions below:

  • Visit the Team Login page
  • Insert your email address and password in the boxes (these will have been provided by email when you first registered – you can change your password, if you require, once you have logged in)
  • Click the Login button
  • Use the <Team Info> tab to update general information about your team (remember to press the Submit button – located at the top and bottom of the form – before you close the page, otherwise your update will not be saved)
  • Click on <Team Members Info> tab to update biographical information about your team of four (remember to press the Submit button – located at the top and bottom of the form – before you close the page, otherwise your update will not be saved)
  • The information collected here will also be used to populate Live Coverage so it is in your interest to do it
  • Teams have plenty of time to update their information and can make changes at any time. However, if you want to see a full team list and have your team showcased on social media then it would be great if you could input the information at your earliest convenience. We often receive requests from the media about teams from certain locations or those that have interesting dynamics. Unless we know who you are racing with, we can’t point the media to you. Help us to help you.

Emergency Beacon

All teams should know that a PLB or emergency beacon is a mandatory requirement for this Chapter of GODZone. It will be carried in addition to the YB GPS Tracker that the Organisers provide. The use of either of these devices will be outlined at the pre-race briefing and gear check. All teams must provide their Team Personal Locator Beacon Hex ID or UIN number (15 characters – numbers and letters) on their Team Information page (see above for login details).

Gear Boxes & Apparel

Please update the quantity of gear boxes you require, if any, via the Team Login page with your team administrators email and password. Information about required gear boxes is available in Newsletter 1. To ensure you get the correct sized race tops, please update your team member information where you can select your sizes. Deadline for correct sizing selection was Friday 26th October 2017, but some details remain outstanding. We have extended this deadline to Friday 1st December 2017. Please give this your prompt attention otherwise sizing for your team will most likely be lucky dip.

Team Finder

A reminder to all teams administrators and/or captains that you can Sign Up your team to the Team Finder page, if you are looking to fill a position in your team. You can also look for replacements at the Team Finder Search page. Injuries, substitutions and last minute replacements are commonplace in expedition events and this feature may help you link up with that person you’ve been waiting for all your life (or, at least since you realised that your navigator was utterly out of their depth).

Registration, Race HQ and Post Race Celebrations

As already stated in Newsletter 1, all registration, pre event administration, gear check, media interviews, official welcome and race briefings for both the GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit teams will take place at the Fiordland Community Events Centre on Wednesday 28th February 2018. AR Duo kayaks, inflatable canoes and any other race equipment provided by the organisers will be available for testing and observation. Bags and personal equipment may be left at the community centre during the event but we recommend that all valuables are secured elsewhere. Be prepared for an early start on Wednesday. For a general overview of event timing please check out the Schedule.

Race HQ and all Post Race Celebrations will be hosted by Marakura Yacht Club, which should give teams some clue as to where the finish line might be and also highlight why we recommended Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park as the optimal accommodation provider – they are within a stones throw of each other. The backdrop to Marakura Yacht Club doesn’t get much better…the perfect vista of majestic Fiordland.

Post Race Celebrations

As noted in Newsletter 1, we are planning to host post race celebrations at the finish line (Marakura Yacht Club) on the afternoon and evenings of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the second week (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th of March respectively). We will be working with local business and stakeholders, as well as our special GODZone beer creator, Altitude Brewing, to create a wonderful finish line vibe, encouraging locals, supporters, family and fans to pop down and celebrate the end of your Chapter 7 journey. All are welcome and everyone will be encouraged to purchase good food (subsidised by our local business partners) with all proceeds going to local community and youth groups. A special Saturday night celebration will take place on the 10th for our volunteers and crew who do so much to make this massive event possible. We will also host a ‘Champions’ night during the post race celebrations. This will celebrate the achievements of the trophy winning teams and give friends, family, fans and locals a chance to quiz them on their Herculean endeavours. Timing of this event will be dictated on how long it takes those champions to finish! More specific schedule information will follow in subsequent Newsletters.

Course Update

You won’t be surprised to hear that course planning and reconnaissance is the most enjoyable part of organising GODZone. We spend many months deliberating over the vast amount of route options and your every potential step is carefully deliberated over. The simple placement of a checkpoint could take many days to discuss as we are always striving to give you the best experience and provide a course with the right balance of adventure, risk and reward.

This is a course with a very different feel to last year’s Queenstown event. Chapter 6 was spectacular, punchy, blessed with sensational weather and views. Teams departed a TA and never felt that they were more than a handful of hours away from some form of civilisation. Let’s be clear – Chapter 7 will be a thorough immersion into the wilderness. You will feel like you are on a genuine expedition from the start. People…well you might see someone…but don’t bank on it and they might ask you if the war is over and smell a bit.

The GZ Pure course traverses a distance of approximately 500km with around 8000m of ascent. The GZ Pursuit course is shorter with approximately 7000m of ascent. Those who have followed GODZone closely over the years will know that this is in line with previous Chapters, distance-wise, but teams are expected to take longer time-wise. A combination of factors will conspire to slow you down. The terrain is tricky and slow in places. The navigation is challenging at times. There are fewer stages than normal and they are long. A couple are very long. If you are loaded up with packrafts and days worth of food and supplies, you will be carrying a lot of weight and that will slow down your rate of progress. You will almost certainly need to sleep more than usual. Otherwise, the proverbial decision making wheels in your head, will fall off. Many factors will combine to add another couple of days, at least, to most teams race schedule. We highly recommend that all teams prepare for a long race and are reminded that scrimping on personal wellbeing, team dynamics and sleep will only end in failure to go the distance.

Physically and mentally, this will be the most challenging GODZone to date. The yang to that yin will be the potential for it to be the most rewarding and memorable too. There is nothing wrong with being slightly nervous about this prospect. However, you should put that nervous energy to good use and prepare the best way you can. Even if it means hauling a 10kg pack to work every day in bare feet, just to toughen your tootsies up – the little bits will add up to a lot in this Chapter.

GZ Pure teams have ten days to complete the full or short course. GZ Pursuit teams will also have ten days to complete their full and short courses. At this time there is one confirmed Dark Zone very late in the race, due to safety. Depending on a teams position and timing, it may mean camping in a remote location. It is conceivable that your team may be dark zoned for over 10hours – with this in mind in makes sense to have food, clothing, cooker and shelter to cater for such an eventuality – and it might be raining, cold or both.

As previously noted, trekking and paddling make up a slightly larger component of this Chapter compared to mountain biking. However, you will still do a significant amount of biking – probably 25 to 40hrs, depending on your cycling prowess (and navigation skills). The water sections will play a significant part in the event and we, as ever, highly recommend that all our participants ‘skill up’ and ensure that they are capable of coping with open water paddling and white water. The course covers sections of open water for both GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit events that may or may not be exposed to wind and waves, depending on conditions. The river canoeing will be up to Grade III.

All GZ Pure teams should take their packraft training seriously. There is a LOT of packrafting. Those little rafts will be your best friends at some points of the race. If you don’t optimise your use of them, learn how to pack them up and down quickly and efficiently, making sure you have ample carrying capacity between the four of you, you are going to have the odd relationship breakdown. Get out in those rafts and use the backpack (probably 40-50litre+) you intend to use during the event for moving it about. Time spent preparing for packrafting will not be wasted.

Mandatory Gear Update

A new version of the Mandatory Gear List has been updated on the website. We draw your attention to the following changes and key bits of information:

  • A Red Hand Flare (or smoke flare) has been added to the Mandatory Team Equipment and must be carried at all times by teams. An example of the type of flare we require can be found by following this link. Given that the transport of flares is prohibited by airlines we can organise provision of these flares at cost. Keren will contact all team administrators to confirm whether or not a flare is needed.
  • Strapping tape on the First Aid Kit has been increased from 10m to 20m. Teams will only be required to carry 10m during the race but an additional 10m must be carried in a gear box – details will be provided with the Logistics Planner before the race start.
  • The eagle eyed amongst you will have already worked out that there is no single blade or Canadian blades being used at Chapter 7. All paddle sections, whether it be packraft, canoe or kayak will use double bladed paddles. This applies to both GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit teams. No need to practice that fiendish J-stroke and all the more time to master that packraft and whitewater skills.
  • Three other items that aren’t on the Mandatory Gear List but, perhaps, should be in your thoughts….i) Gaitors or something to protect the shins, ii) Sandfly repellent and iii) Gloves. We’re not going to make you wear them and you might enjoy hanging out with the local sandfly population…, but we’d be using them.

Prizes & Categories

Trophies, awards and prize money for Chapter 7 are set out below. Teams should be aware of the conditions in regards to the payment of prize money. The split of prize money between the GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit events is a direct correlation to the number of teams in each category – 80 teams in the GZ Pure event competing for $40,000 and 20 teams in the GZ Pursuit event competing for $10,000. ‘Grey areas’ are a common theme in adventure racing and no doubt some will debate the conditions applied, in particular, to the International and Colt teams. The important thing to reflect on is the spirit of the prize money and what it is there for. In the case of the International Teams, it is there to encourage teams who live, work and play in another country and under a different flag, to visit the land of the long white cloud and home of adventure racing. It is not a prize to reward the best team from New Zealand made up of people with dual passports. Ditto with the Colt Teams. It is there to recognise the efforts of new, young, participants in adventure racing and encourage more to make this the sport that gets them out of bed at the weekend. It isn’t really about rewarding the team who sneaks under the age barrier but has already competed at 20 expedition events between them. Final point: Is it possible to win the GZ Trophy, International Trophy and Colt Trophy (and all the related prize money) at the same time? Of course it is. Good luck with that and rest assured if someone manages to pull it off, Mr Fa’avae will be furious.

Hopefully, everyone will reflect on the spirit of these prizes and not lose sight of the fact that the biggest prize of all is just being out on the course with your team. Besides, the way things are going, we’re going to be dealing with some much bigger grey areas when it comes to the one female rule. Does that mean a biological female or simply a person who recognises herself/himself as one? The mind boggles….we’ll leave that to the Race Referee to deliberate over. Or, send us an answer on a postcard.

GZ Pure Prizes & Categories

Category Prize Pool Prize Details
GZ Trophy $20,000 Cash prizes available on the following basis: 1st overall = $10,000; 2nd overall $6,000; 3rd overall $4,000. Teams must contain at least one female and complete the Full Course in the time allowed to qualify for cash prizes. Prize money will not be reallocated if less than 3 teams qualify for prizes. The 1st placed team will win the GODZone Trophy.
International Team $10,000 Cash prizes available on the following basis: 1st international team = $6,000; 2nd international team $3,000; 3rd international team $1,000. Teams must contain at least one female and complete the Full Course in the time allowed to qualify for cash prizes. All team members must have an overseas passport, be full time domiciled and resident overseas to qualify as an international team. Prize money will not be reallocated if less than 3 teams qualify for prizes. The 1st placed international team will win the GZ International Trophy.
Colt Team $10,000 Cash prizes available on the following basis: 1st colt team = $6,000; 2nd colt team $3,000; 3rd colt team $1,000. Teams must contain at least one female and complete the Full Course in the time allowed to qualify for cash prizes. All team members must be under 30 years old and the team must have a cumulative age of less 110 years to qualify as a colt team (at the time of the race start). Prize money will not be reallocated if less than 3 teams qualify for prizes. The 1st placed colt team will win the GZ Colt Trophy.

GZ Pursuit Prizes & Categories

Category Prize Pool Prize Details
GZ Pursuit Trophy $10,000 Cash prizes available on the following basis: 1st overall = $6,000; 2nd overall $3,000; 3rd overall $1,000. Teams must contain at least one female and complete the Full Course in the time allowed to qualify for cash prizes. Prize money will not be reallocated if less than 3 teams qualify for prizes. The 1st placed team will win the GZ Pursuit Trophy.

Final Thoughts

Past experience has shown us that it is about this time that one or two teams will have the odd ‘wobble’. The captain will circulate Newsletter 2 and ask how the team’s training and preparation is going. Most will be going great but there will be the person who will admit that training is not quite going as expected or that work/family commitments are looking quite onerous going forward. The fact is most people find it difficult to fit in full time jobs, family, training and at the same time remain vaguely sociable. You are not alone. It is often the case that the best and/or most prolific adventure racers are the ones with the most jam-packed lives and the barriers to taking part are often based on perception rather than reality.

Team administrators and captains are advised to keep in touch with team members and ensure that they are motivated and reassured. If a team mate is worried about their ability to compete then perhaps it’s best not to open up the dialogue with a blow by blow account of how the other 3 team members just spent the last week paddling around Stewart Island, doing shuttle runs on the knee deep sand dunes in the evenings just to use up some surplus energy. Do your best to reassure those with doubts and remember that this is a team event. People who begin expedition events at less than 100% fitness often start slowly and finish strongly – that’s the perfect way to conquer GODZone. As an alternative, if you are a GZ Pure team who is unsure about the magnitude of what lies ahead, why not consider moving to the GZ Pursuit course? This will be just as epic, provide an incredible adventure, is a race in it’s own right but will be slightly shorter with the benefits of a support crew.

Don’t forget to tap into the Team Finder page to see if there is someone ready, willing and able to step into your team.

It is worth noting that there is nothing wrong with being daunted about what lies ahead. GODZone is the most challenging (but ultimately the most rewarding) endurance event in New Zealand and those who enter with delusions about how tough it is are in for a rude awakening. That said, it is this challenge that elevates you above the norm and your friends, fans and family will rightly elevate you to hero-status for simply having the courage to stand on the start line. You can do it.

Enjoy your training, prepare well as a team and if there is anything we can help you with in the interim, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Oh and remember to spend some time with your favourite blow up toy. That’s right, your packraft, eh?

Train smart, get the skills and we look forward to seeing you at the Chapter Like No Other next year. It’s going to be truly epic.