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Newsletter 3 – 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)

State of Play

Only a month to go, eh? Where does the time go? Who knows but it’s safe to say that everything is moving ahead nicely and we are very excited about welcoming all of you to the Te Anau and the stunning Fiordland National Park. It’s going to be another big event on every level – lots of teams (some new, some experienced, some back for a 7th time (who’d of thunk it?)), more fans than ever and a large media contingent itching to tell the story to the watching hordes. As already outlined in previous communications, the course is a going to be a challenge to all teams. Perhaps all the more rewarding for that fact.

Teams should be expecting some slow going in places, more weight on their backs, much bigger backpacks, more food, more paddling and fewer, longer stages than would otherwise be the norm at a GODZone Chapter. Mentally you need to prepare yourself for something epic; be patient, expect it to be tough going at times and plan for a couple of things in particular – the weather and looking after yourself. We’ll deal with the latter later on in the Newsletter. Of all place that we have taken GODZone, this is the one that is most at risk in terms of bad weather – more specifically, lots of rain, wind and cold (with lots of water stages). Whilst we have designed a course with contingencies in mind, teams should accept that there may have to be significant changes should the weather gods not play ball. Even the most inoccuous looking stream can become a raging torrent after a significant rain event and your safety will always come first. Rest assured, we will do our best to keep the course as unaltered as possible and any changes will be made as early and clearly as possible.

OK, how are things looking from a showcase perspective? We’ve been doing some great work with our event partners behind the scenes and are looking forward to showcasing the best of adventure racing on the world’s finest and most followed Live Coverage site. The full list of teams has been released and can be located under the Resources tab of the main menu. All teams have now been allocated their race numbers which can be used to mark up bike and gear boxes (see below for specific details). To find out your team number please visit the Team List. If you see any errors or missing information in the team list then please update your team profile using your unique log in – all information is directly fed from your inputs so don’t blame us for your bloopers, misspellings,  gaps, etc. Remember, sponsors (existing or potential) are not huge fans of teams who make mistakes or fail to provide the correct information. Furthermore, this information will be used to populate your profiles on Live Coverage so please ensure it is completed.

General Housekeeping

We would like to remind teams that the following items require your immediate consideration. Help us to help make your experience the best possible:

Medical Forms Reminder

We should by now have received all competitors medical form submissions via the following online link http://godzoneadventure.com/medical-form. If you are one of the few remaining individuals that have not done this yet, please ensure you have submitted the form no later than this Friday 2nd February. Our on-course medics require this information for review well in advance of the event start. Failure to provide these forms will make us grumpy so we may consider adding time penalties to teams.

PLB Number Reminder

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).

Yellowbrick Tracker Deposits

At race registration you will be required to lodge a deposit for the Yellowbrick Tracking Device (credit card – Visa/Mastercard only). This will not be charged unless the tracker is damaged or lostDo not forget your credit card.

Accommodation

It is always difficult to advise teams of their accommodation needs at GODZone. We recommend that all teams have accommodation for at least the Tuesday and Wednesday nights prior to race registration and race start respectively. After that, it all depends on how long it takes you to finish! We also recommend that you have settled up all payments for your stay prior to your departure as it will be a very early start on Thursday morning.

Race HQ and Post Race Celebrations

As already stated in previous Newsletters, 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 will commence at the finish line (Marakura Yacht Club “MYC”) 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. 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.

We are aware that there are a number of support crew accompanying the Pursuit Teams, friends, family and event supporters will be in Te Anau for the finish and may be keen to be a part of these celebrations. There will be food, drink and delicious coffee options available on the day. All are welcome.

The Yacht Club is a licensed premise and it will be possible to enjoy GODZone’s Compulsory Checkpoint beer specially brewed by our event partner Altitude Brewing.

Social Schedule

  • Welcome First Teams Home @MYC – Tuesday 6th March
  • Food and Beverage Available @MYC – Wednesday 7th March (from 3.00pm)
  • Food and Beverage Available @MYC – Thursday 8th March (from 3.00pm)
  • Champions celebration and awards @MYC – Thursday 8th March (6.00pm – 7.00pm)
  • Food and Beverage Available @MYC – Friday 9th March (from 3.00pm)

Scenic Flights with Fly Fiordland

Friends, family & support crews can get a birds-eye view of where you are racing during the event with Fly Fiordland. Shaun and Daniela are offering special GODZone flight packages of $245pp for PURSUIT and $295pp for PURE. Please book directly on 0800 359 346 or email flyfiordland@gmail.com (use code: GODZone) www.flyfiordland.com.

Event Schedule

Date Time Event
Wednesday (21st February) 6pm Outline Logistics Planner for bike and gear box movements during event sent to team captains/administrators via email
Tuesday (27th February 1.00pm – 3.00pm Pre-purchased gear boxes available for pick up (Fiordland Community Events Centre)
Wednesday (28th February) 7.30am Food and coffee opens to teams and support crew at Race Registration (Fiordland Community Events Centre)
Wednesday (28th February) 9.00am – 10.15am Event Welcome and Briefing (mandatory for all competitors).  Teams check in at entrance of Fiordland Community Events Centre. GZ Pursuit Teams are permitted to bring a maximum of 2 support crew to the Welcome and Briefing (there are lots of people to cram in the hall, please respect this)
Wednesday (28th February) 10.15am – 1.00pm Registration and Gear Check (mandatory for all competitors) will include the following:

  • Sign race Event Waivers
  • Lodge Yellowbrick deposit with credit card
  • Outstanding financial payments settled (if applicable)
  • Gear check (see important notes below)
  • Mesh bag collection (GZ Pure Teams Only)
  • Media formalities/photos
  • Safety checks – rope and packraft testing (see below for more details)

Remaining pre purchased gear boxes can be collected at completion of Race Registration and Gear Check if not picked up day prior. Kayaks and and inflatables will be available at Race Registration for team inspection.

Race Maps, Passports, Logistics Planner and Race Bibs can be collected once teams have completed formalities.

Wednesday (28th February) 6.00pm – 10.00pm Team gear & bike boxes handed in to Logistics Officials at Fiordland Community Event Centre (specific locations relating to gear and bike boxes will be outlined at Race Registration)
Thursday (1st March) 6.00am All teams departure to start
 Thursday (1st March) 8.00am GZ Pure & GZ Pursuit events start

All teams will be served on a first come first served basis at each station at Registration and Gear Check. GZ Pure teams will receive an Outline Logistics Planner roughly one week before the start of the race (see above). This outline planner will give key bits of information which will allow teams to expedite their packing of boxes prior to arrival at the event. Distances, disciplines and timings will also be provided to help teams prepare. Given the supported nature of the GZ Pursuit event, an Outline Logistics Planner will not be provided to Pursuit teams, however, we will email to all captains a broad course outline giving distances, disciplines and timings. The outline planner will omit some key stage details so teams will still be left guessing about the route until final map and handbook give out.

Please take note of the above timings for handing in Gear Boxes on the Wednesday. As a general rule gear and bike boxes are not available once they have been checked in – make sure you get them in on time and make sure you pack things in the right boxes. We usually do a randomised weigh in of gear boxes and check bike box dimensions so make sure that yours fall within the limits set out in Newsletter 1. If this is your first GODZone you can click this link through to the Chapter 5 Logistics Planner which provides some rough guidance on how it all works.

Important Notes

Maps and Handbook are not waterproof so we recommend that you cover them with some kind of clear seal or use map cases. The Race Passports are made of tough waterproof paper but prefer a bit of love and care around the course!

Safety crews will conduct tests and instruction on all competitors to ensure that they are comfortable with rope sections and packrafting. All GZ Pure teams will need to blow up their packrafts and demonstrate a self rescue and team rescue. All GZ Pursuit teams will have to demonstrate the same using a blue inflatable canoe. Will you get wet? Absolutely. Perhaps bring some spare clothes for that eventuality so that you don’t have to dry things before they go in your gear boxes.

Gear Boxes, Bike Boxes and Bags

As noted above, all teams have now been allocated their race numbers which is on the Team List. GZ Pure teams can use this information to mark up gear boxes and bike boxes as set out below:

    • Bike Boxes should be clearly marked (sides and top) with Team Number and Competitor Name
    • Each team is required to bring 4 plastic boxes that meet the specifications set out in Newsletter 1
    • The 4 plastic boxes should be marked with your Team Number and Gear Box identifier – ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ – (side and top)
    • We highly recommend teams use some form of straps or closures to ensure Bike Boxes and Gear Boxes do not open in transit
    • We don’t recommend the use of paper (even if laminated) taped to the side of the box for marking numbers. These often get ripped off. Spray paint using a stencil is a good way to go
    • We will provide pre-printed baggage labels for your Mesh Bag (that we provide) and two (yes, 2) Duffle Bags (that you provide)
    • Paddles will usually be transported around the course in the Mesh Bag but we know paddles sometimes get separated from bags. We recommend that teams mark up their paddles with their Team Number and Team Name

 

Without going in to specifics (we’ll leave you hanging for that), you could make the following assumptions about bags and boxes:

  1. Gear Box ‘A’ will mostly contain additional supplies of food, clothing and perhaps (?) shelter
  2. Gear Box ‘B’ will always travel with Bike Boxes (a handy receptacle for spare bike bits and extra food/drink/supplies)
  3. Gear Boxes ‘C’ and ‘D’ will travel to a remote location and will be used for trekking equipment, food and supplies. We recommend putting some additional warm paddle clothing in these boxes. Sharkskin top, etc.
  4. The Mesh Bag and two Duffle Bags will be used for water sections – providing extra capacity to carry packrafts, PFD’s, around the course. On some stages you may be expected to take the Mesh Bag and even a Duffle Bag with you.

Survey - Option to take part

GODZone athletes have unsurpassed mental grit and toughness to be able to perform for a prolonged time while physically and mentally fatigued. The drive to complete this gruelling race is arguably more mentally than physically demanding, and I think it is one of the most interesting unexplained functions of the brain. I have a doctorate in performance Psychology, specialising in dual physical, cognitive tasks, and I am calling for help from participants of this year’s GODZone pursuit race. This research will be a first for endurance adventure racing, where cognitive capacities will be measured before, during (at transitions), and after the race. If you volunteer, you will be asked to donate some time before and after the race, and also complete a 5 minute hands free task at transitions (if it can be safely and reasonably done). If you find this subject as interesting as I do, please help me out and volunteer your (very, very tired) brain. Please email megan.jayne.blakely@gmail.com to participate, if you would like to know more, or read about my previous research. Many thanks. Megan

Mandatory Gear & Gear Checks

  • A Red Hand Flare (or smoke flare) was added to the Mandatory Team Equipment in Newsletter 2 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. International teams should chat with Keren to ensure that this is covered off, as flying with flares is prohibited
  • Three items that aren’t on the Mandatory Gear List but were suggested in Newsletter 2….i) Gaitors or something to protect the shins, ii) Sandfly repellent and iii) Gloves. During one of our trips over the course someone we were with (providing event support) managed to get a 4cm piece of wood deeply embedded in their shin. The person could only walk out with some assistance and the wound quickly deteriorated, necessitating a stay in hospital to fight the infection. We’re not being alarmist, we’ve not seen this happen before, but there is a lot of bush on course and you should take precautions.
  • The safety team managing the packraft stages are highly recommending that teams have a perimeter rope around the edge of their packraft. These can be retro fitted to packrafts and nearly all designs come with loops for nylon. In windy conditions and on white water, packrafts can very quickly be blown or float away from you. The addition of perimeter lines will give you something to quickly hold on to. It is recommended that the perimeter lines are not slack loops and that they are strung along the front and back of the packraft, not the sides
  • GZ Pursuit teams will spend a lot of time at Chapter 7 paddling our blue inflatable canoes. All GZ Pursuit teams need to bring 2 good pumps that will need to be carried whilst paddling. There are multiple options available; it all depends how big/fast an durable you want. A typical pump type can be found by following this link. The all important valve that you will attach your pump nozzle to is a Leafield C7 type. Follow this link to see the perfect nozzle to fit the blue inflatables
  • We are well aware that some teams are looking for ways to minimise the weight/size of their packs. Hey, it’s an adventure race and that goes with the territory. However, all teams should ensure that all gear is robust and reliable enough to withstand many days on an expedition race. Teams should ensure that all gear meets the necessary standards of equipment promulgated on this website
  • No inflatable buoyancy aids. As far as we are aware they have never been accepted at an adventure race anywhere in the world and they certainly don’t meet the requirements for GODZone
  • Teams should note that wearing a backpack whilst paddling the inflatable canoes or packrafts is prohibited. Teams should ensure that they have a good way of securing all backpacks, dry bags and equipment in their boats so that they don’t become separated from the team in the event of a capsize

Gear Check for Registration

We don’t like mucking about any more than you do. We have tried to remove a lot of the faff involved with Gear Checks but this doesn’t mean we don’t take equipment seriously. We do. It is your responsibility to ensure your equipment clearly meets the minimum standards required in the Mandatory Gear List and teams should remember that the List represents the minimum required for safety and conditions may well merit that more be carried. Only the following items should be brought to Race Registration for sign off:

    • Tent x 1
    • Sleeping Bags x 4
    • Waterproof Jackets x 4
    • Water Activities Helmet x 4 (white water certified)
    • Packrafts (that will be used by team)
    • Packraft Repair Kit
    • Personal Locator Beacon
    • Red Hand Flare
    • White Strobe Light x2
    • White Light (will need to demonstrate how will be attached to rear of kayak/canoe/packraft) x2
    • PFD with knife attached

 

Teams are asked to bring these items to Registration to make sure they meet the minimum standard required. These will be signed off and the spec/type will be noted down by officials so that teams do not go back to their accommodation and switch items around because they are lighter (we’ve been racers for a long time and we know the tricks of the trade). We urge all those taking part to make sure that their equipment is up to scratch.

There will be random gear checks out on the course where various items of mandatory gear will need to be presented to officials. If equipment is missing or fails to clearly meet the criteria set out in the Mandatory Gear List then you should expect to be held up until replacements can be found, attributed a time penalty and may ultimately be disqualified. Everyone is looking for a competitive edge but scrimping on mandatory gear is not an area where you should aim to cut corners, it could save your life.

Other Items to Consider

Yellowbricks (YB Trackers & PLB’s)

During any kayaking or canoeing stages the Yellowbrick Tracking Device must be secured inside a competitor PFD, not inside a backpack or stored inside a dry bag that is stowed inside a hatch. When you are biking or trekking, it is very important that you place your Yellowbrick Tracking Device in the top pocket of a backpack. This ensures that battery life is preserved (vital for safety reasons) and also means that the watching hordes can track your progress. Nothing stresses out your fans, friends and family more than when your tracker stops moving for hours on end simply because you’ve dumped it in the bottom of your bag. When teams are on the water, they should ensure that one boat is carrying the YB Tracker and another is carrying the mandatory PLB. If boats become separated for whatever reason, both will then have a means of emergency communication.

Water Safety

Water plays an important part of GODZone and Chapter 7 is no different. All competitors should be confident in the water, be capable of swimming 500m and know how to use a survival stroke. You should also be well aware that river crossings are an integral part of New Zealand’s wilderness. Even well maintained/used tracks sometimes demanding that you cross a wide river. Take the time to work out how to cross rivers safely as a group. Please read the Final Thoughts below about preparing for GODZone.

Drinking Water

As a general rule the water in New Zealand is of excellent quality and few people here ever treat their drinking water when tramping out in the hills. However, it is for the teams to decide if and when to treat any they encounter. Fresh water will be made available at most but not all Transition Areas for GZ Pure Teams only. As a general rule, it is pretty hard to go too far in Fiordland without encountering some fresh water but the conditions of late have been extremely dry. Ensure that you have adequate capacity on board. GZ Pursuit Team’s Support Crew must transport in their own water to all Transition Areas. If taps with running water are available these will be detailed in the Handbook.

Darkness and Lights

Teams are reminded to have adequate lighting for the duration. There will be no significant moon to speak of during the event so it’s going to be head torch all the way. There will be approximately 10hrs of darkness each night*, depending on the weather conditions. There will be no opportunities to recharge your batteries on route.

Bike Pumps

Many teams go to the hassle of bringing large ‘track’ pumps with them to events, taking up valuable space in their bike boxes and scant international/domestic luggage allowance. We have purchased a significant number of these pumps and they will be available for all in each Transition Area at the start of each mountain bike stage. We know that these small things can be a big help.

Dry Bags

We recommend that you have very good quality dry bags. In some sections your backpacks will get very very wet. The very lightweight variety of dry bags are OK for a backup inside your bag but when you’re in an open canoe or swimming, rest assured that your gear will get absolutely soaked. The general rule is to bag three times so please take note.

Magnetic Declination

As stated elsewhere on our website, this is a significant number in New Zealand and your team navigators need to know how to adjust for it. The maps are printed to grid north and you will need to know to compensate for the declination either directly on the maps or with your compass.

Spectators

Given the number of teams racing at GODZone this year and the big following that the event has on  social and other forms of the media, there could be a lot of people very keen to catch up with the event as it passes around the Fiordland area. That’s great and we are keen to welcome as many people to watch as possible. However, we politely remind all teams and their followers that they are not permitted to assist any of the GZ Pure teams in any way once the teams are out on the course. This includes providing accommodation, hot drinks, food, supplies, etc, as well as the more usual forms of physical assistance. GZ Pursuit teams are able to receive assistance from their Support Crews but this should only take place in dedicated Transition Areas once the race has started and at no other point on the course unless specified in the Team Handbook. We ask all team followers and supporters to liase with teams in a manner that ensures other teams and officials do not suspect foul play. Your supporters turning up to cheer you on is fantastic and we actively encourage it. Turning up with food and drink at some remote location in the dead of night will be seen as cheating and any teams found flaunting the rules will be disqualified, named and shamed.

Medical Assistance

The organising and safety team have noticed a creeping culture of medical dependency at GODZone. Teams increasingly expect there to be a medic on hand at all transition areas to repair minor ailments, fix sore feet and deal with the various issues that adventure racers endure. Many now park themselves down on a chair, refusing to move until their blisters are miraculously healed by Doctor Lynne (whilst they scoff some food and have a snooze).  This has to stop. Medical staff at GODZone are primarily there to deal with EMERGENCIES and medical problems that could have significant consequences. Teams are expected to manage their own minor ailments, foot care, etc, and should note that prevention is much better than cure. Teams should also note that medics will not be on hand at all TA’s to deal with these sorts of problems and there should never be an expectation that a TA will have a medic – they may have been called away to deal with a serious issue elsewhere. The onus is on the teams to look after themselves at all times. Competitors who have feet repaired during the race are actually gaining an unfair advantage on other teams. Time penalties may be applied to any team who requires such assistance because they have failed to look after themselves. Rest assured, we want as many of you to reach the finish as possible and as healthy as can be expected – but you need to look after yourselves and your team mates, both on the course and in transition. We have added some general medical advice and specific foot care advice, from our Race Doctor, under the Resources tab of this website.

Final Thoughts

We’re not going to add anything radically new here, just take the opportunity to reiterate some commentary from the previous Newsletter as it is important.

Physically and mentally, this may be the most challenging GODZone to date. 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.

As previously noted, trekking and paddling, in particular, make up a larger component of this Chapter compared to mountain biking.

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. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of teams having good water skills, knowing how to deal with a capsize or windy conditions on an exposed lake. When and when not to paddle. You should fully understand that Fiordland is extremely remote and emergency services will not be able to respond immediately. The best safety you have on course is making the right decisions in the first place and having the skills to cope. If you feel you are out of your depth or are nervous about a section, stop, and go a different way. There is absolutely no shame in walking around a set of rapids or walking along the edge of a lake because you  have concerns about the wind. Safety first, race second.

Please note that the safety crew will be watching all teams early on in the race to judge competencies. Any individual or team deemed unsafe to continue will be politely asked to leave the course.

With the above in mind, all teams should take their packraft and canoe/kayak training seriously. There is a LOT of paddling and the conditions in Fiordland are extremely variable. This is your final call to get the skills and make you and your team safe.