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A1 Series Winners Eye GODZone Chapter 8

Monday 12th November 2018

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Australian adventure racing team Thought Sports recently won the Adventure 1 Series in Australia for 2018 and an entry to race at GODZone Chapter 8. Team captain Rob Preston talks to us about the teams goals and aspirations for racing in New Zealand.

What are your team goals for Chapter 8?
We would like to win the International teams category and make the podium.

Do you think an Australian team can take the win from a New Zealand team at GODZone?
Yes, when Godzone moves to Australia. But seriously it is very difficult to set a course in the south island of New Zealand that doesn’t involve important local knowledge.

What AR team or competitor do you find inspiring?
Chris Forne. Concentrating hard for a 30 minute orienteering race is hard enough let alone a 4 days expedition race. Chris’ ability to limit mistakes over long races is truly amazing, and as he showed at Coast to Coast this year he’s not a bad athlete either.

What has been the keys to your success in Australia?
Our team has a really good mix of skills, experience and fitness. We aren’t the necessarily the fastest on any one leg but we have the confidence that we will be able to move into the lead at some point, normally when the navigation gets harder. For the A1 Series it has become very important to have a good roster of athletes to ensure you can fill a strong team each race and this has worked well for us this year.

How many times have you competed at GODZone?
Rob- 4, Kathryn 2, Dave 1, Tim 0

What is the lure or attraction to this particular event?
The attention to detail with the courses at Godzone is always a lure and racing against the best teams in the world. I consider the first day of Godzone Edition 2 one of the best days I’ve had racing in my career and I hope that this edition in Canterbury will be similar.

Do you race always with the same team or different team mates?
For Australian races I’ve always had quite a core group of friends to race with. For the A1 Series this year we had a core group with a good rotation of members. The first time we had raced with Tim was in January but he has fitted in really well. And Dave and Kathryn have had some top ARWS races together when I was mostly racing in other teams.
Internationally I’ve been lucky to race with some really great teams, normally filling in for Aaron Prince when he can’t race! I had a busy 3 years with Adventure Medical Kits and have had a few races with Haglofs SILVA recently which has been fun.

What is distinctive about racing in New Zealand?
Big hills with tough off track travel and rivers that actually have flowing water in them. And since the tree line is a lot lower you normally get amazing views.

When did you start adventure racing and how did you get introduced to the sport?
I first tied an Adventure Race in 2002 which was staged style by Max Adventure that are one of the stalwart organisers in Australia. But I didn’t get hooked until being encouraged to join a last minute team replacement for Geoquest 48hr in 2004. It was actually a kiwi friend and occasional Godzone helper Phil Wood who introduced the world of longer races to me. I came from an orienteering background and it was a relatively easy transition, especially with a lot of Sprint AR’s around at the time. Ever since then I’ve filled the calendar with both orienteering and AR, but the last few years I have focused more on AR.

What skill do you think you have developed through competing in adventure racing?
A skill of getting organised for a race at the last possible moment- fortunately I have very forgiving team mates. And I’m pretty good at judging my own abilities and energy levels to get the best out of myself each race.

What are your teams racing highlights during the last 24 months?
Our first win at Rogue24 this year gave us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. We raced to our physical abilities and ultimately it was the navigation and strategy that paid off in the end. Our Hells Bells win was also very pleasing as a few of our most experienced racers were unavailable and hence we were seen as underdogs again. But it was a convincing performance with newer members Peter and Angus working well with Kathryn and Tim and this consolidated our series win.

What would be your top 5 items to carry while racing?
SILVA Wrist Compass, GurneyGoo, spare bike deraileur hanger for each bike and the tools to change it, a comfortable foam seat for kayaking, and a whole set of maps (yes we have learned this the hard way….)

Any advice for newbie teams?
Take the time to try some navigation based events like orienteering or rogaines. It’s no surprise that almost all top 10 teams in the world have a navigator who has represented their country internationally in Orienteering. They are relatively cheap, competitors are friendly and you get to see some great places.

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