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Friday 9th March 2018

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By Annabelle Latz

Chatting to Joe Skerman on the phone this evening, he was still ‘watching the dots’ from his dairy farm in Bulls.
Before being support crew for his wife’s GODZone team this week, he had always wondered why four people were needed for an adventure racing team.
“But now I see it, how they all need each other to pull each other through.”
He is still revelling in that memory of PURSUIT team Lincoln Reunion, (85) who crossed the finish line of GODZone Chapter Seven on the shores of Lake Te Anau just after midday on Wednesday March 7th, taking five days and four hours to complete the gnarly adventure race through one of New Zealand’s most incredible and challenging pockets of terrain.
They finished in second place; 12 hours behind the winning PURSUITS Team Turiwhate, and two hours ahead of third placed PURSUITS Team Marlborough Tuatara Structures.
Joe’s wife Kym studied at Lincoln University back in the day, when she and two of her fellow GODZone team mates had dipped into events like Coast to Coast.
“It’s always been one of her dreams and goals to do GODZone,” said Joe.
After graduating from Lincoln, this foursome of Kym, Gerald Holden, Trevor Hurley and Dave Divers went their separate ways.
As the world of social media so often operates, they all reconnected over the years. Now, all in their forties, with the days of babies behind them, they collectively decided it would be a great way to use up that bit of that spare time they now had again.
“The message went out a year ago, Gerald and Dave decided on it, and they went straight to Kym to see if she was keen. They just went for it. This PURSUIT event was the perfect race for that,” said Joe.
It didn’t take long to cement plans, including Joe, Dave’s wife Janine, and two more Lincoln friends Matt Bolton and Moon Hurst as support crew.
“They were bloody unreal. They just made the trip. We had a ball, we all had a really good time, a good catch up for us too,” said Joe.
Indeed an epic time it was, but the crew were certainly good at switching into ‘game mode’ when it was needed, but keeping the mood light at the same time. This was especially important when the team rolled into a Transition Area totally exhausted and in need of energy.
Feasts galore; beer battered blue cod, pork crackling, bacon, even vegetarian meals for those who required it.
“Matt was in charge of food. He liked to see them going out happy and on real food. He’d done quite a bit of research.”
For the last leg he got the deep fryer out. We always ate the left overs, there was plenty.”
It was a full on five days for the crew; each had their role. Moon was in charge of the media coverage and did ‘a bit of everything.’
Joe said having the female presence of Janine was great, it brought the emotional side of things back into the team.
Joe didn’t detail his exact role, but there’s no doubt his presence was as crucial as everyone else’s.
Mid race, after the first three days of hardly any sleep as they chased the race action, there were a couple of days when the support crew didn’t see Lincoln Reunion at all.
They took this downtime to spend some fun time together in Te Anau, and add some extra colour to Transition Areas.
Enter a bubble machine and laser lights for TA3….
“The team did say they were guessing during the race what was going to be happening at the next transition!”
The legs surrounding TA3 marked the toughest parts of the race; off the back of a massive trek through thick Fiordland bush, and the entry into a very challenging mountain bike leg.
“On the mountain bikes, although they started off well, things got pretty tricky and they spent twice as long out there as we thought they would. But they pulled through it really well.”
Bringing it home on the final leg as they paddled on Lake Te Anau, the Lincoln Reunion crew had no idea how far behind third-placed Team Marlborough Tuatara Structures, (97) were, as the tracker updates were sporadic in the thick bush.
“On the final paddle we were cheering for the team we saw, but not sure if it was our team or 97. It was our guys, but team 97 was right on them!”
Competition between these two teams was tight throughout the race, but Joe said they comradery was great.
As it turned out, there were a few connections from the university days, so some good auld day catch ups took place, as well as a bit of friendly competitive banter.
“Ha, we’d go on saying how well rested our team was – when they hadn’t actually slept at all!” laughed Joe.
Joe will definitely put his hand up to be support crew again, and is keen to do some mountain bike rogaining races with Kym.
“Being support crew certainly gave me a better understanding, and it’s not until you get there amongst it and you see that comradery.”
“And as support crew we get to share that struggle. It’s a life-long memory I’d say, and you make some life-long friends.’
Joe admitted he’d never thought of the emotional side of it before crewing, reflecting on the scene at the finish line, lots of people shedding tears, which he said was “pretty cool.”
Did Joe shed a tear?
“Ha, no, but I gave her a big cuddle that’s for sure.”
“As a team, Lincoln Reunion hasn’t talked about next year’s GODZone plans, but as support crew we’ve all agreed they’d do it again!”
Joe encourages people to commit the time to support crewing or taking part in GODZone.
“My message would be jump at it, jump at the chance. There’s a lot to be learned and a lot to enjoy. It’s a real life experience.”

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