Chapter 1 – “Milford”
As an iconic location to begin your first event you would be hard pushed to find a place that could compare with Milford Sound. Starting at the rugged west coast of the South Island, teams embarked on an adventure of a lifetime from this most spectacular of places. The route headed southeast through Fiordland and into Southland, before swinging back north again to take in the high mountains that surround the giant Lake Wakatipu.
The great lake provided the final push to the finish, taking teams to a memorable conclusion on the beach in Queenstown. The route was linear by nature and was set out to feel like a journey from end to end. As the teams sat on the cruise boat out to the start under a moonlit sky, the sense of doing something special was palpable.
Thirty one teams from all over the world made it to the start line, with 12 countries represented – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, UK – with approximately 35% of the participants overseas nationals. The spread of experience was noticeable with perhaps the worlds best team, Seagate, in attendance along side a number of teams who had not competed in an expedition length race before. The age of the competitors varied, testament to the attraction of this type of event for all ages. We were delighted to welcome back some ‘veteran’ teams and at the same time introduce the new generation of ‘colt’ team to this most challenging sport, who were competing for the Colt Trophy.
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Final Result|
|1.||Baba Orientation||Daniel Masy||Eric Neuteleers||Carine Laloy||Pierre Collin||Unranked|
|2.||Stunts||Mark Wallace||Katherine Allan||Graham Patterson||Louise Hales||Short Course|
|3.||Kauri Coasters||Thorlene Egerton||Ross Friedrich||Alan Kirkpatrick||Barry Ruddell||Short Course|
|4.||Get No Sleep AR||Ian Huntsman||Wendy Riach||Finbar McGurren||Karen Duggan||Short Course|
|5.||Hard Yuccas||Andrew Johnson||Sally Macready||Lisa Antill||Joel Deans||Short Course|
|6.||Hundreds Killed||Mark Hearfield||Nick Lowe||Robert Smith||Keri Devine||Short Course|
|7.||Asses Ears Bites Back||Brendan Hills||Mary McBride||Doug Ivey||LLoyd Neilson||Short Course|
|8.||Little Red Dot||Tan Yung Khan||Jason Boon||Wong Ho Fai||Lee Chuen Ling||Unranked|
|9.||Kia Kaha||David Viitakangas||Tim Gibbs||Hanna Erixson||Lukas Petow||Short Course|
|10.||Orion Health Adventure||Wayne Oxenham||Lisa Godfrey||Sarah Clark||Sonya Clark||Full Course|
|11.||Proactive Physio||Marty Macdonald||Bernard Robinson||Brent Herdson||Toni Keeling||Short Course|
|12.||R&R Sport||Jess Simson||Mat Woods||Hadyn Key||Bas Smith||Full Course|
|13.||Rogue Samurai by Macpac||Liam St Pierre||Craig Edwards||Darren Smith||Debbie Harksen||Retired|
|14.||Shakespeare & Co||Rosie Shakespeare||Tamsin Chittock||Ian Walsh||Tony Watson||Short Course|
|15.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Trevor Voyce||Full Course|
|16.||House of Travel/Starship||Ben Meyer||Huriana Manuel||David Gibson||Robert Nichol||Unranked|
|17.||Subway||Richard Ussher||Elina Ussher||Braden Currie||Sam Clark||Retired|
|18.||Swordfox||Nick Ross||Shane Armstrong||Joanna Turnbull||Angus Jennings||Full Course|
|19.||Moa Hunters||Jeremy Warnock||Simone Maier||Ailsa Rollinson||Richard Anderson||Full Course|
|20.||Team 215||Emma de Lacey||Guy de Lacey||Stephen John||Mike Charles||Short Course|
|21.||Team Bivouac Colts||Ryan Thompson||JJ Wilson||Bex Law||Dayne Mc Knight||Full Course|
|22.||Team Macpac Girls on Top||Debbie Chambers||Anne Lowerson||Jo Forbes||Craig Stevens||Short Course|
|23.||Team Mazda||Josh Harris||Emily Wilson||Hamish Fleming||William Sams||Short Course|
|24.||Team Mountain Designs||Kim Beckinsale||Gary Sutherland||Robbie Andrews||Dave Schloss||Retired|
|25.||Team Osprey Packs||Blair MacKinnon||Steven MacLeod||Andy Reid||Alison Scarlet||Short Course|
|26.||Team PB Sports||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|27.||Team One Square Meal||Sia Svendsen||Ian Edmond||Stuart Lynch||Ross Rotherham||Full Course|
|28.||TeamBlackheart.com||Rob Preston||Kathryn Preston||Josh Street||Glen Currie||Full Course|
|29.||The Go Team||Tim Farrant||Robert Munro||Emily Wall||Elisha Nuttall||Short Course|
|30.||Tiki Tour||Tom Lucas||Mike Kelly||Michael Walker||Joanna Williams||Full Course|
|31.||The Able Tasmans||Craig Newton||Aidan Boswell||Steve Lock||Emma Mccosh||Short Course|
|32.||You’ve Been Chicked||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|33.||City Bike Depot||Hugh Stodart||Rich Mountstephens||Danielle Winslow||Seamus Meikle||Full Course|
A breathtaking journey through some of New Zealand’s most pristine wilderness. Once out of Milford Sound, teams didn’t see much civilisation until they arrived into Glenorchy which was the final stage of the event. A true adventure in some very remote parts of the South Island. The route covered a total distance of approximately 500km, which included 126km of trekking, 279km of biking, 61km of kayaking and 36km of canoeing. The west to east character of the route allowed the teams to experience a wide variety of environments, including – rain forest, alpine forest, high country tussock, beech forest, grasslands, high alpine mountains and glacial valleys, rivers and lakes.
This was a tough introduction for those teams who had not adventure raced in New Zealand before or for those domestic teams who had not yet experienced an expedition length race at home. The navigation was tough, nights were cold, and many underestimated the preparation needed to prosper in this part of the world. It was a tough lesson, well learned, and many teams have come back to subsequent GODZone’s as far better racers because of the difficulty posed by sections of this Chapter.
START – After camping out for the night, teams took a moonlit cruise ship out into Milford Sound where they were dropped by tender craft at a small beach. Here they made ready for a daybreak paddle back through Milford Sound
STAGE 1 – A sea kayak through the spectacular and iconic Milford Sound back to Deepwater Basin passing through the narrow confines of this amazing World Heritage site accompanied, of course, by the GODZone dolphins who seem to follow us where they can
STAGE 2 – Road bike along the scenic Milford Road taking in the Homer Tunnel, New Zealand’s second longest, over The Divide and into the Eglington Valley
STAGE 3 – River canoe along the Eglinton River that flows from The Divide down to Lake Te Anau. The river was running at historically low levels which made for slow going in certain sections and teams ran well behind expected times
STAGE 4 – Bush trek through native beach forests. A very challenging stage from a navigational stand point and location of the infamous “CP5” which will probably be talked about by team navigators in later years. A very honest introduction to the requirements of finding your way in Kiwi bush at night
STAGE 5 – Mountain bike along the Oreti River and across a number of other catchments before arriving at the Irthing stream. This route demanded good route finding skills with the intermittent nature of the track
STAGE 6 – Mountain trek over the vast expanse of the Eyre Mountains. Very few checkpoints and multiple route options, this was to prove a tough stage for the teams aiming to beat the cut off for the short course
STAGE 7 – The paddle on Mavora Lakes was removed from the course
STAGE 8 – Mountain bike over the Thomson Mountains and along the western edge of Lake Wakatipu that would ultimately lead the teams to the foot of Mt Earnslaw which towers over the northern end of Lake Wakatipu
STAGE 9 – Alpine trek and fixed ropes that led teams over Turret Head, to the base of the waterfall feeding the Earnslaw Burn and then over Lennox Pass. All the while circling around the breathtaking 2830m summit of Mount Earnslaw with hanging glaciers and cascading water as a backdrop to all checkpoints
STAGE 10 – Mountain bike out of the Rees Valley towards the first sign of life for some days in Glenorchy
STAGE 11 – Lake kayak back home to Queenstown taking in the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Most teams enjoyed wonderful surfing conditions for the full 46km which made for some very quick paddle times
For the first three stages on Day 1, Seagate raced neck and neck with the Subway team, with Subway pulling away to a 10 minute advantage by the end of the Eglinton canoe. It was during the night trek through the Dunton Range on Stage 4 where Seagate made their move, having previously identified CP5 (a checkpoint that proved to be highly challenging for all teams – taking one team 19hrs to locate it) as the place to attack. Spotting an opportunity as Subway stopped momentarily, Seagate charged off into the night, never to be seen again.
Their time (still nearly 18hrs) over this challenging stage was a lot quicker than any of their rivals and perhaps most importantly, allowed them to complete the tricky navigation of the following stage (Stage 5) in the daylight. On the mountain bikes they managed to put a further 4hrs of time between them and the next best team, testament to their navigation skills, route finding ability and strength on a tough ride. After that, they identified the long mountain trek of Stage 6 as their main obstacle to winning due to the myriad of route choices. They took an aggressive line through Slate Basin (an area which thwarted other teams who attempted it in darkness) towards CP19 and once at the Transition Area, felt that victory was in their grasp.
Seagate completed the remaining sections with their trademark fluency and surfed into Queenstown beach just after 9pm on Thursday evening – just a shade under 87hrs after starting GODZone (some 3 days and 15hrs later) – to a large crowd of well wishers who had been glued to their progress on the Live Coverage website. Nathan, team captain, was quick to point out the challenging terrain and technical difficulty of the course to the watching media but was glad that the race had combined a balance of testing conditions and beautiful scenery.
Second and third place were taken by teams One Square Meal and R&R Sport respectively. Both these teams had a wealth of experience from previous expedition races and understood the importance of good navigation, route choice and pacing yourself over a course as difficult as the one posed. They were able to push hard when needed and took the better lines through the parts of the course where good route choices were necessary. Critically, they made far fewer mistakes than many of the teams behind them – this is the unwritten law in expedition racing – the team who makes the fewest mistakes, wins.
GODZone is keen to promote emerging youth teams and Chapter 1 saw an intriguing battle develop between teams Mazda and Bivouac Colts. After a difficult start, which included three capsizes in Milford Sound, Mazda pulled themselves level with Bivouac by Stage 6. Once again, route choice was a big factor in the success of a team and Bivouac, opting for the better line into CP19, were able to pull away and cement themselves as winners of the first Colts Prize. There were a number of highly impressive, young, competitors in Chapter 1 and we have a sneaky suspicion that they could be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage in the coming years.
The Top Five
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Final Result|
|1.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Trevor Voyce||3Days 14Hrs 55Mins|
|2.||Team One Square Meal||Sia Svendsen||Ian Edmond||Stuart Lynch||Ross Rotherham||4Days 6Hrs 1Mins|
|3.||R&R Sport||Jess Simson||Mat Woods||Hadyn Key||Bas Smith||4Days 10Hrs 25Mins|
|4.||TeamBlackheart.com||Rob Preston||Kathryn Preston||Josh Street||Glen Currie||4Days 12Hrs 45Mins|
|5.||Swordfox||Nick Ross||Shane Armstrong||Joanna Turnbull||Angus Jennings||4Days 15Hrs 48Mins|