Frequently Asked Questions
Please use this area to find out information about GODZone. If you can’t find the information that you need then please feel free to contact us. One observation that we had from previous Chapters of the event was the number of questions that related to equipment and gear/bike boxes in the last couple of weeks before the event started. As you can imagine, this is a very busy time for us and it is slightly disconcerting to have questions about how a team can locate bikes (yes, bikes, not bike boxes) a week before the off. Once the final Newsletter is circulated, teams will have one week to ask any specific questions. Teams have many months to prepare and getting organised early will undoubtedly lead to a more successful outcome for most and allow the organising team a chance to focus on delivering a quality event.
Can I Do It?
In an event as long as GODZone strength and speed are much less important than would otherwise be the case in events that typically last a few hours. Mental strength, good planning and team work are much more important than in other more traditional endurance events. Good planning means not only arriving at the event with your kit and mind in good order. It also means making sure that you plan your training and preparation smartly in the months leading up to the event.
Whether you end up completing the full course or short course does not really matter for the first timer. What matters is that you are out there doing it, taking in the amazing experience of racing in New Zealand’s wilderness. As an example of what is possible, a novice team raced at Chapter 1 and made it through the short course. In Chapter 2, this team squeezed through the full course. By Chapter 3 (possibly the hardest course yet devised for GODZone), they were pushing for a top 10 finish. If you are motivated, intelligent about your training, have an open mind and the drive, you can do it, regardless of your sporting pedigree.
GODZone appeals to a wide range of different age groups and across the employment spectrum. However, working professionals aged between 30 and 45 make up the significant bulk of our competitors. These people, like many busy people around the World, are time short and faced with multiple commitments. But, as Benjamin Franklin said, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person and these busy people are just the types to appear at GODZone. You might be under the illusion that the teams at the front of the field do nothing but train or are full time athletes. This is simply not the case and there are no full time adventure racing athletes who make a living out of this sport – they all work, in some form, to pay the bills. Many of the very best racers live robust, rich family lives and manage to combine their love of the outdoors and training with their partners in a very positive way. The secret seems to be the holy trinity of communication, compromise and commitment.
First of all you need to tell your partner/family what you want to do and why. You need to spell out what it involves and be honest about the positive and negative impacts it may have on your established lifestyle. If you can clearly communicate the commitment you need to make it can help to get your family on board and supportive. This line of communication needs to continue for the duration and you should ensure that you invite your friends, family and supporters to the event so they can truly feel part of your experience rather than a remote spectator. The team dynamic in an adventure race can be a hugely rewarding one for a team of four but for your partner, looking in from the outside, it can seem quite intimidating or exclusive. Make them feel part of it.
Compromise is vital for balance in all aspects of life and it’s no different at GODZone. If you’re going to dedicate 10hrs or more of your life each week to training then there logically needs to be some kick back in terms of investing time with the family, during the training phase, in the aftermath or ideally both. Think carefully about when you allocate your training times. It might be a challenge to get up and do that 5hr bike ride at 5am on a Sunday morning but its good mental training and leaves plenty of time in the day for all the other things.
Once you embark on the journey to GODZone you are going to have to be committed. If you are going to sacrifice your family life, ask for time off from work and spend money on the way, then the last thing you want to do is reflect at the end of it all on a job half done. You owe it to your family, your team mates and yourself to give it a proper go. You don’t want to have to explain to your partner that the reason that you pulled out on Day 2, having trained for 6 months, was that your feet fell apart because you’d neglected to get them into shape.
Simply to finish. It doesn’t matter whether you do that via the full course or the short course but your lazer-guided attention should be on getting to the finish line in the time allowed – usually 7 days but it could be up to 10. It is entirely impractical for us to leave the course open for the length of time it would take every team to finish the full course which is why we employ a short course option. This in no way diminishes the achievement of those who complete the short course – in fact, the opposite is probably true. I’m personally of the opinion that it’s mentally a lot tougher (and impressive) to be a team at the back doing a short course over 7 days or more than it is to be fast team and be out there for just 3 and half days, even if they do the full course. The odd person seems to think that a person who only completes the short course is less of an achiever at GODZone but these people don’t really understand the sport and have probably never done anything like it before.
It’s important that the team is collectively on the same page when it comes to your race expectations and a bit of honesty goes a long way in this regard. If your team is just focusing on getting to the finish and you wish to place on the podium then it’s best to get that out in the open as soon as possible. It doesn’t mean that the team dynamic is set to fail but at least you can work out some common ground and nobody is left under any illusion. The worst place to find these sorts of things out is during the race. But, it happens and we see the odd team, every Chapter, dealing with personnel issues – normally as a result of poor pre-race communications and expectations.
You can see an outline of the basic Mandatory Gear List under the Resources tab. The gear list is pretty long compared to most other sports but then again, you may be out on your own for 7 days or more so it’s not that surprising. Many of the items are standard things that you would carry if you were tramping in your local hills so you are likely to have them anyway. As an event we realise the benefits of us providing as much quality specialist equipment for the teams as possible. We provide double sea kayaks, inflatable canoes and spray decks. GODZone’s fleet of boats is the beyond comparison with any other event in World adventure racing. We want to test people’s ability at our races, take them into challenging water and that means we have invested in the very best fleet ever seen in the history of the sport.
Depending on the race location you may be required to bring specific items relevant to a particular stage. For example, crampons, ice axes, harnesses and climbing helmet were required at Chapter 2 for glacier travel on the Annette Plateau. You will be given ample warning in advance, via the regular Newsletters, about the inclusion of these items to give you the time to acquire them and learn how to use them correctly.
One key point to remember as a first timer at GODZone is that acquiring equipment is the easy bit. Acquiring the skills to use that piece of equipment is not so easy. Furthermore, whether that item of equipment, which fitted like a velvet glove in the shop, works after 5 days in the heat of the event is another matter too. The best investment you will make in any piece of equipment is the time you put into using it and we whole heartedly recommend that you get outside and thrash your equipment wherever possible – particularly on the water (it’s the area where most skill shortfalls are apparent).
This is an incredibly subjective area and really depends on the person or team involved. Some people thrive on the structure of plans and guidance. Others wilt under the demands of a coach and can even find them demotivating in the long term. The physical training required to give you a realistic chance of finishing GODZone is not rocket science. It is all pretty straight forward and based on common sense. In this regard I don’t think that a coach adds a lot to the aspirational athlete at GODZone. However, the big caveat to this general conclusion is ensuring that you arrive at the event with the requisite skills to ensure your success and safety.
One area we constantly highlight for teams to pay attention to is in skill development in kayaks and canoes. As stated elsewhere on this website, you need to ensure that you have sufficient skills to look after yourself and your team mates. Just completing a Grade 2 certificate over a weekend does not mean you are skilled enough to cope in the challenging water conditions in New Zealand. If you can join a local club and make the most of the coaching facilities to pick up crucial skills over the medium to long term then you are far less likely to come up against the unexpected at GODZone. Likewise, if you are unsure how to cross big rivers as a group of 4 safely; or, if you navigation falls apart at the seams at night; or, you struggle with huge blisters every time you do a long mission on foot; or, your gear always seems to be a mess and disorganised – then it might make sense to get an outside expert or coach to set you on the right track.
It all depends on the person providing the answer. Some people are predisposed to be strong physically; others seem to deal with mental challenges without blinking. A few very lucky individuals are blessed both mentally and physically and they will often make good adventure racers. There is no doubt that the psychological effects of racing over many days, with little sleep, can have a debilitating effect on even the most hardy souls and we have seen elite athletes from other sports reduced to sobs, tears and a whole lot more. The team aspect of the race can provide valuable support to certain individuals but for others it can be a lightning rod for discord.
From the moment you enter GODZone you can view every part of your experience as part of your mental training. You will sometimes experience doubts about your ability or whether you have prepared enough. Some mornings you will look out of the window, see the rain and try to persuade yourself not to head out on that 5hr bike ride you had planned through Muddy Valley. There will be times when you and your team will disagree about a piece of equipment and you will have to decide whether to let it go or fight your corner. Mental strength comes from understanding how you deal with physical and social challenges day in and day out. If you can become mentally strong in the months leading up to the event than there is little doubt that your experience at GODZone will be improved. The reality is that most people who have retired from a Chapter of GODZone have done so because they are mentally not willing or capable of carrying on, rather than injured to the point where they can’t continue.
This very much depends on your current level of fitness, strength in the key disciplines of trekking, biking, kayaking and canoeing , the amount of time you want to dedicate to training each week and your race expectations. The obvious answer is straight away and if you feel you have the mental and physical stamina to go the distance then why not? For most people though, 6 months is ample and the next few weeks might be a good time to chat to the family about your rough plans, talk to your team mates about a common goal and then working out the best way to spend those all-important 6 months.
If you are gifted (trusted) enough to be the team navigator then you don’t need to wait for the 6 month mark to start your training. Nope, you can start working on that navigation straight away and pretty much keep going – forever. It’s a skill that you can never have enough of in an expedition race and most training sessions would ideally have a navigational element to them. The best navigator in World adventure racing has won GODZone three times – this is not a bizarre coincidence.
There are number of adventure races in New Zealand and overseas that will give you a good introduction to the basic dynamics of GODZone. Any adventure race which includes real navigation and time outdoors will be beneficial to do. The best options are the 12hr and 24hr versions which introduce elements of strategy, navigation, team work, a small amount of sleep deprivation and the all-important transitions. Rogaine events are also a fantastic way to improve your skills and these can be done as a team of four and some of these events last for 24hrs. In fact, for the team navigator (and back up navigator) any event which incorporates some element of navigation is a good option.
That said do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because you have done an expedition race in another country or a 24hr race that you have the skills to canter through GODZone. Many overseas teams have come to New Zealand and been surprised at the technical difficulty of the event. GODZone is the most technically demanding event in world adventure racing and you need to take your skill preparation at least as seriously as your physical training.
Generally speaking it’s difficult to replicate the efforts you put into a race in training so lots of racing should lead to rapid improvements in performance. However, you need to remember that your race pace during GODZone is likely to be considerably less than what you might do in a traditional endurance event over a few hours. Sure, use all types of races for getting fit, keeping things fresh and for enjoyment but please don't assume that running a fast marathon or two will suddenly mean that you’ll be running all the time at GODZone – you won’t.
Navigation, navigation, navigation. It is the most important factor in a successful outcome at GODZone. If you are the team navigator then you will have a disproportionate input into the eventual outcome of the team. Get outdoors and practice whenever you can. If you are not the team navigator then your job is simple. Either, get better and become the team navigator or suck up the navigators mistakes without negative comment.
Condition your body and mind to the rigours of GODZone. Take a look at the History section of the event, read race reports from teams who took part and try to build a picture of what you are going to come against – then emulate that in training. I like a 6-8 week conditioning period in the last couple of months before a race like GODZone. In this period I will drop nearly all general ‘fitness’ training and focus on long missions that condition my feet, backside, hands, etc. All the areas that you never think about when normally training but can’t stop thinking about in an expedition adventure race as they usually cause most pain.
Be realistic about your personal and team aspirations. Too many first time participants aim for a placing when they should just aim to finish either the full or short course in the time allowed.
Try and get organised as soon as possible. It is always amazing how many questions we get about kit and logistics in the last couple of weeks before the event starts.
It might sound like stating the obvious but the slow teams lose the most time when they are not moving. Put it another way, when the slow teams are moving they are usually moving at a speed that is not too different from the fast teams. However, it is the repetitive stops to check they are going the right way, the time spent lost, the faffing, the idling in transition and the long sleeps, that really make all the difference. If you want to give yourself the best chance of completing the course you don’t need to be a sporting monster. You need to be well prepared, you need to go the right way and you need to move forward steadily and not succumb to the temptation to stop at every opportunity.
Some of you will already have made the decision to compete at GODZone despite never having done anything quite like it before. Bravo. Some of you will be wondering whether you have it in you to complete something so demanding. Truth be known we don't know if you do or if you don't. What we do know, however, is that spending the next few years wondering about it will prove nothing and you'll miss out on a truly unique experience. There is nothing even close to this event in New Zealand.
We're not so deluded to claim that you'll all come through with flying colours. That you'll sprint through the finish tape carrying your 3 wrecked team mates, kiss your biceps and salute the cheering crowd who are spellbound by your awesomeness. Or, that every single one of you will reach the finish. That's just not the way of things in this sport and, besides, reaching the finish is just one of the reasons for doing GODZone. If you do take the plunge we have no doubt that you'll become utterly immersed in the nature of adventure racing. You'll seek out new pastures in your home town and further afield, you'll polish or learn new skills, you'll develop friendships and, perhaps most importantly, you'll reconnect with the great outdoors and the skills required to spend time in the wilderness.
Email, phone or via the contact form on the Contact Us page. All event related questions should be directed to Anna Bastin (everything from course, transport, gear boxes to schedules). All media related questions and requests for media information should be directed to Margo Berryman. One practical point: Please don’t ring us up or email us a week before the event starts asking how to build bike boxes, etc (you’d be amazed how many teams leave things to the last minute). Do yourselves a favour and get organised early.
We’re happy either way. Please understand that we often disappear off on to the course for days on end and that invariably means we can’t respond immediately. Be patient, we will respond as soon as we can but in the meantime make sure you check you have read the Newsletters and the website properly as most questions we deal with are already covered here.
If you have a general question about the event or entries then please contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a media related enquiry then please contact Margo at email@example.com
Rest assured we do everything we can to keep the price down. Competitors should be aware that entry fees covers less than half the cost of putting on the event with the balance made up by additional income streams and the massive generosity of sponsors, volunteers and a lot of other people who dedicate weeks of their lives in the build up for nothing more than a thank you and the joy of being part of a great team. Cent for cent, we think this is the best value event in New Zealand when you consider the variety of disciplines, the fact that we move all the gear for you, the duration, the media coverage and the ground-breaking technology we are applying for Live Coverage.
The deposit that secures your team entry must be paid in one single payment. The balance of your race entry fee can be paid in more than one payment but we urge you to keep transactions to a minimum so that we don't have to spend many hours managing and reconciling payments. Please remember to read the deadlines regarding discounts and also remember to use your unique 4 digit code on all references when making a bank transfer. Failure to do so will lead to a $25 administration charge being added to your account.
All discounts will be calculated out of the final balance payable figure. Therefore, student teams or teams with students in them need to pay $1,500 to secure their entry in the first instance.
No, anyone can enter and secure a spot with their deposit as we only require the team captains details for registration purposes (though you will be able to change the leadership role if you so desire at a later date).
The general entry requirement is 18. However, you can be as young as 16 if you have parent/guardian consent and you can prove to the organisers that you are sufficiently competent to take part.
The course is planned so that a team who have prepared well, who navigates competently and employs sensible strategies in terms of pace, sleep and nutrition, will complete the entire course in the time provided. Teams who underestimate the difficulty of this event and who fail to prepare properly are in for a rude awakening. Teams should also be aware that the weather can play a huge part in the difficulty of a long event and they should factor that into their kit and planning. We are not going to sugar coat the answer and the fact is, to complete the course in the time allowed, means that you need to be mentally and physically strong, you need good team dynamics and you should know how to operate in the wilderness.
Truth be known, we are becoming increasingly concerned about the level of competence of some participants at GODZone on the water sections. New Zealand has lots of exciting and demanding water to explore and we want to make the most of it. However, we require all participants to have the requisite skills to cope and make good decisions based on experience and learning. Some teams at Chapter 2 didn't look like they'd held a Canadian bladed paddle before which is not good enough. We recommend that your training for the water sections is focused on dealing with skills rather than fitness and that you take it seriously.
Navigation and route choice will be an integral part of the event. Some parts of the course will have very few checkpoints leaving the competitors the choice on how best to tackle the wilderness before them. Some stages of the course will have few paths and teams will often have to decide the best way to deal with natural ‘obstacles’. We recommend that each team has at least one competent navigator who has strong map and compass skills. A back up navigator is often useful should the lead navigator get tired or if decisions about route choice need to be made. We were slightly disappointed with the level of navigation skill at Chapter 1 shown by some teams. Navigation should be your number one priority when preparing yourself for GODZone, well, for at least one member of the team anyway.
Simply because of costs, resources and the leading teams would be bored out of their brains waiting 5 days (plus) for the rest to finish. As you can imagine, every additional day the course remains open adds significant costs to us. This ultimately would be added on to the cost to enter which is not something we want to do at this time. Furthermore, we are totally reliant on the amazing support we get from our volunteers, many of who are happy to give up a week of their lives to see this amazing event happen. We can't realistically expect volunteers to be with us for any longer than they already are and believe substituting volunteers mid-race will likely lead to mistakes being made.
Ha, we can’t tell you that until the day before GODZone starts - or it might even be 5 minutes before you start. We have spoken to a lot of current and former adventure racers and every one of them said that the best events are the ones which feel like a journey. We believe strongly that the event should feel like an expedition from start to finish and we will not have random loops or pointless out and back navigation. Nature is dictating the course to some extent, we’re just putting in a few pointers along the way.
Yes, the biking will be technical in places and you should plan to cover everything from super fast single track to steep, rocky descents, as well as more sedate fire trails and 4WD tracks. An element of bike pushing or carrying is possible, often dictated by riders skill, weather/mud, or landowners or on conservation grounds, but we appreciate that nobody really enjoys pushing or carrying a bike so we will try and keep it to a minimum (famous last words). Note: we hear the odd team grumble about having to push up a section but invariably the team before them managed to ride it. Just take it on the chin and move on. Nobody likes to hear people moaning.
Speak to Margo (via the Media page) in the first instance and then sign up via our Accreditation page.
Team Resources and Equipment
We highly recommend that teams get to the event well in advance of the start. This allows them to get settled in, organise any kit niggles, familiarise themselves with the area and generally begin the race as stress free as possible. Teams should follow the pointers in the Newsletters but we suggest you get to the event at least a day before Registration and then you have to work out how long the race will take you. The fastest teams will perhaps need accommodation from the Wednesday night to the Saturday. The slower teams might only need accommodation for the Saturday night. Talk with your accommodation provider to see if they can be flexible.
No. Bike boxes need to be robust, water resistant and conform to the spec laid out in the newsletters. Generally we recommend corflute or similar materials for construction, though you are permitted to have a box which has a corflute (or similar) outer shell with some cardboard on the inside.
No. Only one team turned up to Chapter 1 with boxes that did not comply and they ended up with bent axles before they even started. We require standardised boxes to ensure that our logistics operation runs smoothly. Trailers have been constructed with widths, heights, lengths and weight in mind. We have not arbitrarily picked some dimensions to make your life difficult. Sticking to the guidelines makes our job easier which in turn allows us to focus on the important things (like you) and keep costs (and hence entry fees) down.
No. We asked teams not to do this at Chapter 1 but apparently we didn’t make it very clear as most teams did. Boxes are pushed and squeezed into all sorts of places and it can rain here. Paper stuck to the outside of your box is just waiting to get ripped off so please think of another way to mark your boxes up.
All this information will be revealed in the Newsletters. But in the interim, boxes must weigh no more than 35kg for bike boxes and 30kg for gear boxes. The gear boxes are a standardised design for all. The bike boxes must measure no greater than 140x80x30.
It is the responsibility of each team to ensure that all items are packed safely and with suitable protection. The organisers will accept no responsibility for gear that is damaged or lost in transit - even if it is the fault of the Volunteers or Logistics Crews. We urge all competitors to take out suitable insurance if they are concerned about their equipment. Logistics crews will, of course, do their best to treat all gear with the utmost respect but they can’t be held responsible for breakages or losses. No exceptions - this is what travel/insurance is for.
This will be distributed with the final Newsletter which is due to be released one month before the race starts. The current (V.1) version will not change significantly. There may, however, be some additional items of equipment required that relate to a specific section of the event.
There is an archive of information under the History tab which is contained on the Main Menu at the top of the page. Images and videos can be found under the Media Tab. To download images you will need a flickr account. Videos are hosted on our Vimeo Channel. Our Facebook Page holds a lot of snippets of information for the previous event.
Not at this time. We’ve put it to bed for a while until we have made some technological advances. We strongly believe that the Live Coverage site is a vital tool for getting your story and adventure out there so we shall be putting a lot of time and effort into making it even better.
Don’t fret, there will be lots of other people in the same shoes. We can help put people in touch with other like-minded souls if you contact us. However, the best place to find possible team mates is via our Facebook page, at local sport clubs or through endurance-based websites such as Sportzhub and Sleepmonsters. In the first instance we suggest you post up your details on our Facebook page and let people know what you are looking for. You can then take discussions off line.
Unfortunately we do not have the funds to pay for professional volunteers (yes, it's an oxymoron but we do get requests). We can cover costs on the course and give you a fantastic few days of your life but that's it.
We urge all volunteers and potential volunteers to get in touch with us as soon as they can via the Contact Us page. If you are keen and know you are going to be in town for the event then please fill in the Sign Up form so we can find a great/suitable job for you.