Descending from Pass Pass we were informed we were in 5th Place. That is both good & bad news. One reason I agreed to do this race was ‘go and have an adventure’. Racing with 2 rookies meant that our agreed objectives were to go have an adventure, finish the race and still be friends at the end. No mention of racing hard and racing for a podium place. Upon hearing we were in 5th, 2 team mates took off down the mountain. “Wait… time out… team. meeting”. The outcome of this meeting was, I doubt we will make the dark zone cut-off to get on the Dart Awa (forcing us to spend a night beside the river getting some well earned time off our feet.) And its Day#2 of a LONG race, there’s still lots of time for everything good and bad to go wrong. Lets calm down, cool our jets and keep moving at the speed we were.
We made our way down to the Dart Awa in about 8.5hrs and got there right as the Dark zone kicked in. A dark zone is created in AR to not allow team to paddle of moving water, mostly because it too dangerous. Paddling in the dark means you can’t see obstacles, rapids, drops etc making paddling way too dangerous. We were now forced to rest for the night. So we put up the tent ate some food, chatted with the TA staff and were asleep by 10pm. THE REST WAS GOOD, & gave our now hammered feet some air and a chance to dry out and recover.
The next day we were paddling right at the end of the Dark zone time of 730am. The day had dawned well and the river flow was pretty decent. This quickly changed as the NorWest Wind or should I say GALES kicked in making paddle visibility ver difficult. At times it felt like we would of had more visibility if we paddled at night. Eventually we made it to the lake to then battle the same wind now as a cross wind threatening to blow us towards Queenstown.
At the end of this stage we meet our support crew who we hadn’t seen in 2 days. They feed us & helped get us ready for a 70km MTB stage. I was feeling good and the breakfast burritos and coffee went down well. My energy was feeling good and was ready to power on with this adventure. Godzone is now a supported race with means you have a support crew. This is a change from the previous GZ’s I’ve done where you are basically on your own in a TA and race volunteers don’t offer any support only in moving your gear bins. So GZ 2022 with support was like heaven for me. Long may it last.
Onto the MTB we quickly left Glenorchy, about 2hrs in I suffered a puncture. It shouldn’t have been happened because I was running tubeless but the sealant wasn’t working so we had to replace with a tube. The ride down the side of Lake Wakatipu was spectacular with rideable 4WD & single track. We then turned away from the lake front & headed towards the Mavora Lakes area. We made the next TA in good time to swap MTBs for what was going to be the hardest part of the race. 54Km & 3700m of elevation. And will lots of route choice. A good adventure race is good that has sections where you have to get from point A to B and how you get then is up to you. So you can play it safe or take gambles, go high or stay go, minimal bush whacking or lots of it. It mostly comes down to your navigational skills.
We left the TA right on darkness to soon be great by light rain. We past a team struggling to find a checkpoint and pushed on to the next CP at Lincoln Hut. By the time we arrived here it was raining & 2am. the hut was small and we were hoping to sleep in there. unfortunately there was already a team in there. So we had to put up a tent and sleep for about 3hours in difficult conditions. My feet weren’t in great shape here and so Fiona & I took some time to tend to them with medicated foot powder before going to sleep. They had all the signs of Trench Foot… YIKES!!!
After a few hours of sleep we were getting ready to go. It was dark, cold and rainy. And my feel weren’t cooperating, More foot powder and some stepping tape set me up well. And so off we set again. This time a big uphill bushwhack to the Ridgeline which was even colder, windier and clogged in with cloud. We navigated well through here, but changed plans and descended into a valley as staying high was a bit treacherous in the conditions and line of sight hard with some steep drop off, cliffs, bluffs and tricky lines to follow. We descended to Upper Windley Hut after a long downhill bushwhack. Stopped at the hut to make a dehydrated meal and rebuild some energy. We started early that morning it was now 5pm.
My feel we’re feeling good, and refuelled we let the hut to climb another bush clad mountainside (one of 3 more planned before we thinking about sleep. We climbed through thick Beech forest when disaster struck…