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Sunday 4th March 2018

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By Annabelle Latz

On the start line of GODZone, PURSUIT Team 80, Ginger Ninja Crew, said they were confident about a few things.
That they weren’t going to win GODZone, but would just file in behind teams that looked like they knew what they were doing.
They were going to enjoy it, stay warm, eat lots, keep going, and have good attitudes.
Well, these lads from Canterbury certainly did have fun.
And their rippa smiles on display as they shared their albeit brief GODZone experience, back at their holiday house in Te Anau this afternoon, were something to behold.
They didn’t mention anything about suffering the cold, nor hunger – Darryl’s mum’s hot lasagne waiting for them at TA1 sounded something legendary.
And they’re probably the first ever GODZone team to discover an open cask of red wine in the hut on their first night, as the rain pelted the roof, or be bold enough to ask a local farmer for a beer as they mountain biked past his gate, to which request he obliged.
But the whole ‘filing in behind teams’ idea.. well that didn’t really come into fruition.
Dave O’Carroll said they knew on the first night they were at the back of the field, so collectively the Ginger Ninjas decided to try something a little different on the following day’s Titiroa hike.
“Sometimes you need to make a big move, to see how you go.”
He said everyone was going up over the hill, and they figured maybe a big play would be to go through the valley, and see if they could catch the teams on the other end.
“Sometimes risks take off, and sometimes they don’t,” said Dave.
“We thought we could be four or five hours ahead of them, if we could make this work.”
And it would mean saving their legs for later in the race.
Unfortunately, they didn’t pull it off.
“We will call it a ballsy move, to have a crack and see how we go. And there’s nothing wrong with making a ballsy move,” said Dave.
“And it provided some comical relief for some people, so that was all good,” smiled Anthony Fokkens.
They reached a DOC track at the end of it, after seeing no other teams since they set off early that morning.
Momentarily they thought they’d nailed it and made up time, but soon discovered they were still at the back of the pack.
Easier walking along the trial did lighten moods somewhat though, as they headed toward the abseil.
Figuring they’d rather endure the abseil in daylight, they had an early night to set themselves up for an early start to get to the ropes.
A two hour hike on Day Three took them to their spot, but they were informed by the ropies it was closed an hour earlier.
“Some decisions we made hadn’t been working for us,” said Dave.
Putting it behind them, they headed towards TA1 for some of Karen’s lasagne.
“Turning up and having hot lasagne waiting for you, well that’s pretty cool.”
The run of bad luck was sadly not behind the Ginger Ninjas.
The bike leg after TA1 came with mechanical and shoe issues, and they were only too aware of more to come.
“To do 150kms on bikes that aren’t working isn’t going to do anyone any good.”
But grit and good attitude is what the Ginger Ninjas didn’t lack.
At the second portage section between the Monowai and Waiau River sections, Darryl’s parents Alan and Karen heard a story.
“I was told that everyone was looking very serious and tired as they portaged, except this team; people could hear them before they could see them, they were laughing and joking!” said Karen.
The Ginger Ninjas had a great crew of followers, thanks to the tracking system on the GODZone website.
Riding to the caves, after a flat tyre and “a shit of a time” Darryl said they received the “biggest cheer” from people had obviously been watching the dots.
“Everyone wants to see each other finish,” he said.
The caving was a highlight for this team; the unknown, not knowing what’s next.
“Even a map doesn’t explain what’s there,” said Dave, who added that the guides were fantastic.
They loved their four hour kip in the caves, and who knew there are massive trouts living in them? A fisherman’s dream.
They rode the waves of highs and lows superbly, but in the end, the bike into TA2 got too much.
“The last straw today was that mud and clay. You can see that from the bikes, they are pretty filthy. You’d push them two metres and they’d just cease up,” said Brian Wilson.
They asked each other if there any point carrying on after TA2, or would they be better to stop, and reset for next year.
A beer from a local farmer they biked past on the way to TA2 sealed the deal for them to bow out and prematurely hang up their GODZone bibs for Chapter Seven.
Will they be back?
“Yes, I’ve still got the bug from last year,” said Darryl.
Dave’s response was a positive yes also.
Brian and Anthony, well they weren’t too sure yet.
But they certainly all had fun.
“If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. You gotta have a laugh, that’s all part of it,’ said Brian.

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