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Friday 24th February 2017

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10 stages, 1 prologue, 8 disciplines, 410km of iconic New Zealand wilderness and almost 300 competitors with just seven days to complete Chapter 6 of GODZone.

There will no doubt be plenty of blood, sweat and tears as New Zealand’s premiere adventure expedition race kicks off Saturday (tomorrow) at 7am NZST from the main beach in Queenstown Bay.

GODZone Race Director Warren Bates outlined details of the grueling multi-disciplined course to competitors today just 24 hours before the race start. He says it will be a showcase of the adventure capitals iconic locations.

“The first day is an 8 – 12 hour prologue showcasing the regions best, starting with a trek up One Mile towards Ben Lomond with spectacular views, rocky outcrops and steep ridgelines.

“Then down to Skyline to pick up their bikes and ride the amazing bike park trails, across to Queenstown Hill and over to the Shotover River at Tuckers Beach.”

A 2-hour kayak down the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers will finish with a spectacular gorgeering section up the Arrow River to Whitechapel and the first transition area. From here teams will head into Stage two and the first major trek over Coronet Creek, Bullendale and over to Branches Station in the famous Skippers Canyon.

“There are plenty of vantage points along the way for locals and supporters to get out and follow the teams on their first day of racing. The adrenalin will be pumping,” says Warren.

“ The Pursuit teams will abseil off the old Lower Shotover Bridge that was built back in 1871 so that’s going to be outstanding viewing for anyone in the vicinity.”

Day two of GODZone heralds the introduction of a new discipline to GODZone – white water rafting on the Shotover River.

“It’s super exciting for teams to white water raft through Skippers Canyon thanks to the support of Queenstown Rafting who have been operating on the Shotover River since 1974,” says Warren.

“ They will paddle inflatable canoes down from Branches. There is an abseil off the historic Skippers Canyon Bridge that will be amazing to watch and then teams will be rafting the lower Shotover. It will be a real highlight and locals will be able to see the teams paddle the final big rapids just before the take out at Arthurs Point on Sunday and Monday.”

From here teams are on a 38km technical mountain bike through the Moonlight Track to Moke Lake, then on to bike orienteering at 7 Mile Bike Park. It’s a route that picks out some of Queenstown’s favourite bike trails – such as Gold Digger – and will be a lot of fun for the teams.

The GZ Pure course traverses a distance of approximately 410km with over 12,000m of ascent. The GZ Pursuit course is slightly shorter with approximately 10,000m of ascent. Bates says the Queenstown course is very challenging with a substantial amount of elevation gain over demanding terrain.

By day three most of the lead teams will be heading up to Lake Isobel on Mt Crichton and to the summit at 1970 meters before descending to Lake Wakatipu and the Stage 7 kayak to Glenorchy.

“ Some leading teams may get to this point by the end of day two but others not until day three or four of the event. It’s where cut offs start to come into effect and we will see a split in the field for the GZ Pure category,” says Warren.

The Lochy valley south of Glenorchy sets the scene for the last 110km mountain bike possibly over the Afton Saddle, if they elect to go that way, and down to Halfway Bay on the Cecil Peak.

“ This is New Zealand back country riding at its best with the teams heading in to the third and final 33km trek through the Eyre Mountains to Kingston,” says Bates.

“It will prove to be challenging for competitors who will be physically and mentally fatigued by now with good team work required to stay on track.”

The final stage of the massive expedition course is a near 50km kayak up Lake Wakatipu to the finish line at Frankton Beach. Bates says he expects the first team’s home as early as Tuesday evening.

“ They have seven days to complete the course with dark zones on some of the water sections that will slow teams down. But I expect those racing at the very front should complete in just over 80 hours. It’s a remarkable course and a real adventurous journey of epic proportions.”

GODZone is one of the most technically challenging expeditions in the world with teams racing for up to seven days and navigating their way through 300 – 500km of unknown terrain. Each team of four must stay within 100 meters of each other at all times as they kayak, mountain bike, trek, raft and climb across some of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes.

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