Chapter 4 – “Wanaka”
On the southern end of Lake Wanaka, situated in a dramatic glacial carved basin, is the stunning resort town of Wanaka with an active, friendly atmosphere. The World’s First Protected Lifestyle Reserve, it’s a spectacular natural playground and if you are into the outdoors, there is no better place to visit or to host a Chapter of GODZone.
Wanaka hosts some of New Zealand’s best events and was the finish location for Eco Challenge back in 2001. With the course options available, history and community love of sport, it was always going to be a popular Chapter and this was reflected in the fact that the event sold out 48hrs after entries opened. Chapter 4 was very much about a return to the big mountains, with teams exposed to the elements at high altitudes for long periods of time. This coupled with some challenging weather conditions conspired to make this possibly the hardest GODZone to date. Nearly every team reflected on the intensity of the terrain and World Number 1 ranked team, Columbia Vidaraid, stated that the Chapter was much harder than any World Championships they had done. Any team who gave Chapter 4 a go can be immensely proud of their achievements – it truly was an Adventure Like No Other.
Fifty five teams entered Chapter 4 with 52 making it to the start line at the foot of the Fantail Falls below Mt Brewster. In total, 14 countries were represented – Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand , South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom & the USA – showing the appeal of New Zealand’s South Island as the World’s leading adventure racing location. There was a particularly strong showing from New Zealand teams who were well aware of how quick entries would sell out. Every level of experience was represented with the two best teams in the World – Seagate & Columbia Vidaraid – going head to head in battle once again, along side a number of teams who had not competed in an expedition length race before.
The consensus was that this was once again an incredibly strong line up of teams with many of the younger generation teams keen to make their mark on GODZone. For the first time ever in an expedition adventure race we had a family team made up of mother, father and two sons – the Murray family from Wanaka – who performed amazingly well given that Charlie and Craig were just 19 and 16 years old respectively. We also had a New Zealand Rugby Players Association-backed team racing for our chosen recipient charity, Cure Kids. This included NZRPA CEO Rob Nichol, Auckland Blue player Ben Meyer, the highly experienced adventure racer Sia Svensen and former All Black Ian Jones.
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Final Result|
|1.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Stu Lynch||Full Course|
|2.||Columbia Vidaraid||Barbara Bomfim||Urtzi Iglesias||Jon Ander Arambalza||Marco Amselem||Full Course|
|3.||Backcountry||Dan Abel||Sarah Bryant||Bryan Cowger||Rob Nesbitt||Retired|
|4.||Cure Kids||Ben Meyer||Sia Svendsen||Ian Jones||Rob Nicol||Short 1|
|5.||Bivouac Inov-8||Ryan Thompson||Becs Law||JJ Wilson||Dayne McKnight||Full Course|
|6.||Sheepgate||Grant Pepper||Helke Melville||Janet Musker||Tim Sikma||Short 1|
|7.||Epic Endurance||Kelly Boyd||Nicki Rehn||Claire Perks||Dave Viitakangas||Retired|
|8.||Action Sunday||Aaron Agnew||Jacqui Gee||Nathan Jones||Amy Horn||Short 1|
|9.||Sheep Eaters||Robin Simpson||Shelly Hufner||Joel Tate||Andre Morkel||Short 1|
|10.||Kauri Coasters||Barry Ruddell||Graeme Ewenson||Anyika Thomsen||Allan Kirkpatrick||Full Course|
|11.||Earth Sea Sky||Tom Bowen||Nicole Ranger||Chris Booth||Toby Johnston||Retired|
|12.||Heartland RICOH||Ian Walsh||Mike Robins||Huw John||Jo Turnbull||Full Course|
|13.||Tiki Tour||Tom Lucas||Floortje Grimmett||George Lucas||Mike Kelly||Full Course|
|14.||DAR Dingle||Chris Caulfield||Brian Keogh||Noel OLeary||Caroline Bullard||Short 1|
|15.||Real Discovery||Daisuke Minami||Goshi Ozawa||Fung Ka Fai||Takako Takahashi||Unranked|
|16.||Search4Hurt||Ian Huntsman||Wendy Riach||Geoff Dillon||Andrea Peebles||Short 1|
|17.||Swordfox||Nick Ross||Brent Edwards||Fleur Pawsey||Ashley Whitehead||Retired|
|18.||You can cry but keep moving||Sakkie Meyer||Dene Gavin||Benjamin McDowall||Sarah Cairns||Short 1|
|19.||University of Auckland||Edward Lawley||Tom Reynolds||Matt Jeans||Mirjam van den Boom||Full Course|
|20.||Pat Farry Trust||Rachel Lynskey||Jeremy Webber||Garry Nixon||Adele Pheasant||Short 1|
|21.||Torpedo 7||Richard Anderson||Bob McLachlan||Simon Bowden||Joanne Williams||Unranked|
|22.||Fit for Life||John Henson||Karen Muller||Ruth Tramsheck||Sharon Brophy||Retired|
|23.||BNZ||Rhys Burns||Lisa Bates||Glen Currie||Daniel Jones||Full Course|
|24.||New World St Martins||Sam Manson||Flavio Vianna||Pete Smallfield||Ailsa Rollinson||Retired|
|25.||GB Lakesmultisport.com||Anthony Emmet||Alex Pilkington||Joanne Thom||Seamus Miekle||Full Course|
|26.||Balance Sports Nutrition||Louise Mark||Cam Carter||Bart Muylle||Jerome Sheppard||Full Course|
|27.||Next Generation||Tim Farrant||Emily Wilson||Elisha Nuttall||Hamish Fleming||Full Course|
|28.||Southern (Dis)Comfort||Glenn Hedges||Georgia Whitla||Angus Petrie||Tony McGuire||Short 1|
|29.||One Square Meal||Sarah Fairmaid||Dwarne Farley||Ross Rotherham||Gordon Blythen||Full Course|
|30.||NCX||Simon Woods||Stephen John||Theodore Wordsworth||Jenni Blyleven||Short 1|
|31.||Absolute Wilderness NZ||Dan Moore||Dan Busch||Jeremy McKenzie||Lara Prince||Retired|
|32.||Super Subs||Mike Rait||Camilla Gry Elmann||Ayako Nakazawa||Deklan Hodsell||Retired|
|33.||Bracken||Richard Fogarty||Tracey Bransgrove||Joe Morrison||Dan Thomas||Unranked|
|34.||Bear Hunt||Charlotte Petersen||Michael McCluskey||Mark Van Der Ploeg||Max Collet||Short 1|
|35.||Chimpanzee Bar||Milan Brodina||Emily Forne||Greig Hamilton||Rob Creasy||Full Course|
|36.||Stromlonauts||Kim Gilfillan||Clare Lonergan||Kieran McDonald||James Kidd||Short 1|
|37.||More Pros Than Cons||Simon Trotter||Anna Barrett||Rhys John||David Ayre||Short 1|
|38.||Breen Homes||Keith Murray||Andrea Murray||Charlie Murray||Craig Murray||Full Course|
|39.||Hill Billys||Geoff Spark||Paul Spark||Seonaigh Conchie||Scott Henry||Short 1|
|40.||G Wizz||Destry Harte||Gareth Owen||Daralyn Gee||Richard Spelman||Unranked|
|41.||BMAC Cycle World||Mel Crook||Nolan Hill||Nick Williamson||Peta Cunningham||Unranked|
|42.||Freedom Fitness & Coaching||Richard Dove||Rosie Shakespeare||Tony Watson||Simon Lewis||Unranked|
|43.||Dynamite Adventure Racing||Paul Gruber||Angus Rodwell||Karina Vitiritti||Bruce Shaw||Retired|
|45.||Village Cycles||Robyn Dunmore||Gerard Malcolm||Ed Steenbergen||Kim Hogarth||Short 1|
|46.||One Direction||Richard McIntosh||Denis Woods||Richard Shields||Fiona Reid||Unranked|
|47.||Osprey Packs||Hilary Totty||Tane Cambridge||Mitch Munro||Dave Slater||Unranked|
|48.||SAS (Still Accepting Sponsors)||Alastair McDowell||Ben Gibson||Isla Smith||Angus Watson||Unranked|
|49.||Assagai||Morne Pienaar||Jimmie Fourie||Andie Lowry||Eddie Schuurman||Short 1|
|50.||Kori Kita Racing||Steve Lock||Lea Vellenoweth||Hedley Meacheam||Dean Sisson||Short 1|
|52.||Deliver us from evil||Nick Lowe||Dave Rudge||Sarah Kenedy||Glen Warner||Unranked|
|54.||Haast Eagles||Kris Mayen||David Cowie||Katharine Eustace||Dan Cullen||Short 1|
|55.||Team Vistalite Central||Darren Clay||Don Reid||Mike Plimmer||Amie Manning||Retired|
All teams will be in no doubt that this was a tough course. The toughest yet? When you factor in the weather, the intensity of the terrain and competition, you can make a strong case for saying that Chapter 4 was indeed the hardest GODZone to date. The route started with technical challenges in the form of high mountains and cold weather. The middle part of the race was defined by big mountain stages on foot and bike (with many teams being caught on their bikes at 2000m in gale force winds and very low temperatures). There were reports of teams having to lie on their bikes to stop them being blown away.
Teams had to swim and coaster in the cold waters of Lake Wanaka. They also had to take on a highly tricky stage of orienteering in the native bush of the Waikaia Forest. There were four paddling stages in total (2 canoeing and 2 kayaking) but with no dark zones teams were open to pit themselves against the water challenges at night as well as day, including the coasteering. The final trekking stage gave plenty of route choice over the stunning terrain of the Hector and Garvie Mountains – perhaps the most beautiful landscape GODZone has ever visited. The final bike stage across the Old Woman and Old Man Ranges coupled with a wild paddle in deteriorating conditions on Lake Wanaka pushed every team to the very end.
The route covered a total distance of 554km, which included approximately 125km of trekking, 279km of biking, 56km of canoeing, 80km of kayaking, 7km of orienteering and 7km of coasteering. Given the layout of facilities, it was decided that the teams would only receive the maps for the first third of the course before the start of the race. The remaining maps were given to teams as they passed through Wanaka during the first mountain bike stage.
Start – Teams started below Fantail Falls close to the Divide which separates the Wanaka Region from the West Coast.
Stage 1 – Alpine Mountaineering using fixed lines, crampons and ice axes to climb to Mt Topheavy via the Brewster Glacier – stage shortened due to weather conditions but the stage still had huge elevation gain and some tricky navigation in poor visibility
Stage 2 – White water canoe down the grade II rapids of the Makarora River from Davis Flat to Makarora
Stage 3 – A high mountain trek over the Albert Burn area which offered some route choice but most will probably remember the night time river crossings of the Makarora, Wilkin Rivers and Albert Burn in rising river levels. Three teams got highly lost up the Albert Burn and had to be re-routed via helicopter whilst a number of the slower teams became trapped for a second night in the East Matukituki Valley due to high side streams blocking the track
Stage 4 – White water canoe down the grade II rapids of the Matukituki River with high rainfall making for quick times. The stage included 7km of coasteering from West Wanaka to Glendu Bay and a 400m swim across Lake Wanaka
Stage 5 – A super tough bike ride around the edge of Lake Wanaka, over the Criffel Range, Pisa Range, Gibbston Valley (many will long remember the CP above the Bungy Bridge which was much trickier than it looked) and along the shore of Lake Wakatipu to Drift Bay
Stage 6 – A scenic paddle down Lake Wakatipu to Kingston. The leading teams enjoyed a tail wind with many of the followers and back markers slogging into a stiff southerly wind, adding a couple of hours on to their paddle times
Stage 7 – The most beautiful stage ever? Trekking across the Hector and Garvie Mountains to Piano Flat in the Waikaia Forest with plenty of route choice and tricky CP’s. If you ever get a chance to visit…do it (just ask permission from the landowners first)
Stage 8 – Another huge bike ride across the Old Person Ranges, through Bannockburn, along the Newcastle Track which follows the Clutha River and then on to Dublin Bay
Stage 9 – Iconic paddle on the jewel in the host venues crown…Lake Wanaka.
Finish – Teams finished at Event HQ in Wanaka
The 2015 edition of GODZone, Chapter 4 – Wanaka, was won by team Seagate, which comprised Stu Lynch, Chris Forne, Nathan Fa’avae, and Sophie Hart who once again put in another inspiring and devastating performance. That makes it a fairly convincing four wins out of four and their winning margin was a staggering 19hrs.
Seagate were always going to be the team to beat but the big question was how would the World Number 1 ranked team, Columbia Vidaraid, do against the super strong Kiwi contingent of teams. It’s fair to say that most Kiwi teams will have a newfound respect for the Brazillian/Spanish outfit as they performed amazingly well to take a fairly convincing second place. By their own admission they learnt a lot about the way GODZone works and would no doubt be a formidable opponent if they returned.
Third place were taken by Queenstown locals, Tiki Tour. They raced smartly and made few mistakes which gave them a well-earned place on the podium. Notable mentions must go to Bivouac Inov-8 and Chimpanzee Bar who finished 4th and 5th. They were separated by a mere 7 minutes at the finish and changed positions on the final paddle in very testing conditions.
GODZone is keen to promote emerging youth teams on their journey into this demanding sport. The younger teams compete for the Kathmandu Colt Trophy (as well as the overall title) and once again it was Next Generation, who triumphed last year, who came through with a fantastic performance. They were well deserved winners and finished 6th overall – a fantastic achievement given the quality of the field. Next Generation have done particularly well in coming through the ranks because they train and prepare with their brains as much as with their heart and muscles.
To win an expedition length race you need to race intelligently, strategically and have a great team dynamic. It’s traditional for the young teams to do OK on the fitness/endurance side of things but to sometimes fall short on tactics, navigation and sleep management. Next Generation now have 4 full length expedition races under their belts and they are still so young (that’s more races than most adventure racers do in a lifetime and they usually don’t start until they are 40+). The big question for teams such as Next Generation is whether they can remain motivated enough to become the torch bearers for New Zealand adventure racing on the world stage. Either way, the future prospects for adventure racing in New Zealand looks very bright with this crop of youngsters coming through and, on all accounts, there is another huge wave of school leaving adventure races already hot on their heels.
The Top Five
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Team Member 4|
|1.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Stu Lynch||4Days 08Hrs 28Mins|
|2.||Columbia Vidaraid||Barbara Bomfim||Urtzi Iglesias||Jon Ander Arambalza||Marco Amselem||5Days 03Hrs 57Mins|
|3.||Tiki Tour||Tom Lucas||Floortje Grimmett||George Lucas||Mike Kelly||5Days 07Hrs 52Mins|
|4.||Bivouac Inov-8||Ryan Thompson||Becs Law||JJ Wilson||Dayne McKnight||5Days 12Hrs 01Mins|
|5.||Chimpanzee Bar||Milan Brodina||Emily Forne||Greig Hamilton||Rob Creasy||5Days 12Hrs 08Mins|