Running Heaven

This afternoon Robin and I went and ran with the Harriers Club, which is a group of runners that get together every Saturday to run. They host a lot of races and have a wide range of abilities. Including some folks who really know how to kick your tail when it comes to running. Its a very good way to improve.

I attend more often than Robin, however today’s location was one we both really wanted to go to. This is about 30mins east of us and the ocean behind in the Pacific with the next stop being South America.

Enjoy… You can see why we both went along.

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Great Weekend

This past weekend i had almost one of the best weekends i could have outside of being in the mountains or sea kayaking.

Flew to the North Island on friday to visit with my sister Hazel who i haven’t seen since we have been back in NZ… my bad. On Saturday went to see some really good friends who i haven’t seen in even longer and then perhaps the highlight…

I went to watch the All Blacks smash England at rugby on saturday night. (36-13) it was awesome. My sister and i went with some of here friends. It was a great game and we ended up sweeping the series 3-0, which was great because English rugby thinks they are all that!!!

Hugely satisfying. Only kiwis understand but i would much rather lose to our old foe Australia or South Africa than the poms. Then flew back today and got a sweet view from the plane. See photos below. The only bummer was that Robin couldn’t make it due to prior commitments.

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So Close Yet…

Before we slept we got all our equipment ready for the paddle down the Hurunui River. This was going to be around 100Km and in the race briefing they told us that there were “Dark Zones” which means that we could not be on the river between certain hours because it was moving. In fact there were some quite big rapids to navigate.

Part of getting our gear together included inflating 2 rubber 2-person rafts or duckies as they are called. They are self bailing so have holes in the bottom and therefore your feet are sitting in cold water all day. I have paddled the Hurunui however it was about 15 years ago. So some part looked familar.

We woke at around 530am after a rough few hours of sleep to the sounds of people snoring and other teams coming in throughout the night. It was nice to have a few hours nap and get up and be ready to go. Running around getting gear together and even just moving after being at it for a few days with little sleep in more than a chore. Before getting on the water i checked in on the status of a replacement bike for Scott’s broken frame. They informed me that they put a request out on the race Facebook page and were inundated with offers. I told them to choose for us, they agreed and reassured me that it would meet us at the other end of the paddle where we would once again get on our bikes for the 2nd last MTB section.

Us and several teams got on the water right at 700am while a few other teams were messing around with gear. Some experience paying off there on our part. We were quickly into the rapids and they were coming thick and fast. The water while really cold felt good as a wake-up and somewhat cleansing after days of grimy buildup.

A few rapids were really tricky and pushed our skills. I was with Michelle as i had spent the most time in a boat like this. After some time the river opened up into a flat section where the river braided and required that one choose the right channel or risk running aground and having to drag the boat over river banks and in places sharp stones. We made it through here quite well.

Traveling down a river like this is really easy and having no CP’s to collect it was a straight forward paddle. I did know where we were from previous experience and couldn’t help but think that we were making good time and might make it through in one day and not get caught in the dark zone that night. In the race meeting they told us that almost every team would get caught in the dark zone and be prepared to camp out on the side of the river. This was looking like it wouldn’t happen to us.

We made it past the town of Hurunui which was also a cut off for the slower teams to make it past there by 100pm Thursday. We were through here 24hrs before the cut off.

But this is when we had another disaster. As we continued to make our way down the river the current can sometimes take you close by a river bank or small island. One has to be careful to not get caught in the limbs and potentially dangerous obstacles. Pete & Scott got close on one such occasion with Scott using his paddle to push off the bank. It got lodged in the soft earth or similar and ended up stuck. Of course they floated past and as he tried to remove it the paddle would not move and upon his body coming up against it the paddle snapped! Right were the shaft molded into the paddle blade (these were single blade paddles).

Yup, this was bad. It all happened very quickly and Michelle and i were behind them (away from the dangerous banks) and witnessed the whole thing. We pulled over to assess the damage… it was bad, and a real game changer. What were we going to do. Immediately one has visions again of ‘thats it, the race is over for us, we are done.’ However once again adventure racing teaches one so many lessons about life and if nothing else how to be resourceful.

As we looked at the paddle shaft on the bank the paddle blade was still lodged in the bank. I made the choice to swim out into the swift current to the small island hopefully retrieve the paddle blade. This was not easy and fraught with danger. The current was fast and there were lot of underwater obstacles that i needed to avoid. But we had no other choice. So i went for it… successfully grabbed it as i floated by on my back, feet pointing down stream. When i swam back to where Scott, Michelle & Peter were Scott has somehow magically found a piece of tree limb that amazingly almost perfectly fitted into the hole at the end of the paddle blade. No joke it was like a perfect fit and to find this particular piece of tree right there almost custom made was incredible. We made a few minor modifications and soon were underway with this modified “paddle”.

As the day wore on we continued to make good time, but the day was getting short and the 830pm dark zone was fast approaching. We were getting closer and closer to the river mouth and the take out. Make this would be huge because we would be able to then continue on our bikes and not lose time on the teams 1-2hours ahead of us.

We could see the river mouth off in the distance, and were really starting to paddle like crazy to try and make it before 830pm. Quite tired but determined.

Pushing really hard.

We didn’t make it, it was at about 820pm i called it and said we aren’t going to make it, we might as well pull off here and make camp for the night. So agonizingly close. I have since heard that Robin and other family and friends following us online were almost yelling the online tracking willing us on to make the cut off.

But we didn’t make it. So set up camp, ate, got inside our sleeping bags and tent and sleep.

Continued

Its been a busy month and so the GZ reports dropped off. But here we go again.

As ended last section… bike problems. We arrived in Hanmer Springs to the sound of Scotts bike making a weird sound. Upon further examination we discovered that his frame had cracked. Yes cracked. He was racing with his carbon fibre bike and paid the price of the rough terrain. To make matter worse, it was cracked in 2 or 3 places.

His response was… “Oh we can just duct tape it, and it will be ok.” Pete and i responded with NO WAY. this is a serious problem and could easily lead to total frame failure and Scott falling on road or trail and potentially hurting himself. We had no other option and of course you think “well this could be it” but again the resourcefulness of AR people came through.

We did duct tape it and then proceeded to tell Scott how it was going to be. We had about 40-50Km left to bike to the TA and most of it was on a paved road… thank goodness. We told him that he had to stand on his pedals and ride. No pedaling up hill we would push him and he had to ride an easy gear the whole time. Then coast on the downhills. But it was bad because his bike could have snapped in 2 at any point.

WE MADE IT. yes unbelievably we made it to Glen Wye Station where we exchanged bikes for trekking shoes and really the most fun part of the course.

Before leaving the TA on foot we informed the race staff that we had some “homework” for them to do… find us a new bike. They were fairly confident they would, as were we. We left Glen Wye Station in the dark after a quick TA and no sleep. This was the best part of the course. There were no CP’s to find only at the next TA. That meant that the race directors had given us lots of route choices and it was up to us how we were going to get to the next TA, the 101km paddle.

But first we had to get over this huge mountain range… by any route possible. We trekked up hill choosing to go up high and avoid the THICK bush… we made a good choice and overtook about 4 or 5 teams on this section. We quickly got above the tree line to bee greeted by a spectacular dawn. The price for going high is easier travel, and navigation, but there is no water up there and soon were without water and becoming dehydrated. We knew this was coming and had been in this position before so pushed on. The ridge lines continued on and on until eventually we choose our route down into some thick bush. But only for a short while before we found a trail and made more good time out to the TA. This section took us around 19hrs, but i heard some team spent over 30hours out there. Probably because they tried to go the shortest route in a straight line and paid the price with thick thick NZ bush and a lot of elevation gain and loss.

We got the TA around 10pm, and had obviously hit a “dark zone”. Which means that the river paddling has been deemed to dangerous to be on at night and therefore from 830pm-700am no teams were allowed on the water. And had to camp where they were on the side of the river.

We were glad to miss it as it meant we could get ready for the paddle now and then get a few good hours sleep.

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Part III.I

Because the Hodder River was really high we decided to put the tent out and camp for a few hrs sleep, knowing that over night as the snow re-froze the river was drop.

As we were putting up our tent I successfully (out of concern for my fellow racer, or sleep deprivation) convinced 3 other team not to cross and go into the gorge. I have been in that upper gorge many times in the past year and once you are in it, there is no escape. With steep walls, and with the river running high, it would be a nightmare in there. So we rest albeit for a few hours and restless as you could imagine. Its raining, and….

After a few hours we rose with several other teams to see the river had dropped and so packed up and went for it. We had to make our way down the Hodder looking for a side stream to exit out of the Hodder, find a CP in a near by creek and then carry on over the saddle and down into the Awatere Valley to the next TA to transition onto our bikes.

I say this will little detail because i knew EXACTLY where that side stream was. I was navigating at that point and didn’t even use the map for the next few hours. We made good time over this ground even though we were in the river which was essentially the stream. It was fun because we caught a lot of teams in this section who found themselves stopping at every stream and creek coming into the Hodder River to check to see if this was the one to go up. Of course i knew, and so flew past as if we knew where we were going… we did.

We found the side stream, found the side creek and got the CP and carried on in the early morning sunshine. We were with an Irish Team at this point as we trekked up over the saddle. As we struck up conversation Pete and I realized that one guy on the team we knew from racing in Abu Dhabi a few years back and hanging out with him after the race in a restaurant, and all 4 of them knowing an Irish girl i raced with in France at World AR Champs in 2012…small world.

We made our way over the saddle and down the valley following quite well defined sheep trails and a compass heading. At this point we were really close to me home in Blenheim, really only over the other side of the Awatere Valley, but some of the most rugged country you could imagine. We got to the TA knowing we were about to put our bike together for our 2nd bike leg and all 160+Km of Molesworth Station (Largest Farm/Ranch in NZ).

The TA was at a local farm and race volunteers greeted us with lasagna, bread and soup. Which was delicious. This is where things took a turn for the worse as we found out the one member of the Irish Team were just with slipped and broke his ankle. WOW, we only saw them about 2hrs ago, but quickly dropping them as we moved down the valley. This was about to be the least of our worries.

As we assembled our bikes, Pete discovered a critical part of his back wheel hub had somehow come off and was lost. This was a small but critical part of any back wheel set and without it, he couldn’t ride, we couldn’t ride…race over!!! This part was so obscure that one wouldn’t carry a replacement like a tube, or pedal, cables, derailleur etc.

One thing you quickly learn in AR is how to respond to adversity and how to be resourceful. What looks like a game changer, or game ender, doesn’t aways have to be. And how you respond says a lot about who you are and who your team are. And if we had quit every race something had gone wrong we wouldn’t finish many races.

One of the race co-directors was there and he came and enquired as to what was our problem. He was very sympathetic. We were also talking to a media person while assembling bikes. She overheard what had happened and said. “I have my bike here, you wanna use my bike wheel?’ After checking dimensions and getting clearance from the RD (who could have time penalized us, but didn’t as he called it an act of God like occurrence) we got out of there.

And off in the Molesworth. Now its hard to explain the Molesworth in words, its very remote, the weather is only 1 of 2 extremes. Really hot or really cold and snowy. In fact the road is closed for 7months of the year due to snow and can still snow in the middle of summer.

We got a HOT day!!!

And it was hot. Biking on a gravel road, lots of climbing. But amazing scenery. I had run a race through here several month earlier and so was familiar with the route again. So off we went, with the map tucked into the pack, knowing that i could get us to Hanmer Springs a small mountain village no worries.

Generally this was a straight forward ride, just hot, but with plenty of water options. Pete felt a little under the weather at times, mostly from not eating enough but other wise we were good. The race started on Saturday and we were biking Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.

We started about lunchtime and rode until about 2am past Hanmer Springs to Glen Wye Station many km’s away. The few hours our Molesworth were spent with 2 other teams that we joined up with to create quite a pelaton and take turns and riding at the front. A group of 12 riders in a bunch can cover more ground than 4.

We rode over the Clarence River again, of course further upstream from where we had crossed in a raft earlier. We rode over a small pass and enjoyed a great downhill into Hanmer Springs hoping to catch the last of the stores before they closed for the night. We managed to get to a bar where several other teams were stopped and so did we for a big feed of fries.

Unfortunately here were encountered more bike problems.

To be Continued…

Part III

Because the Hodder River was really high we decided to put the tent out and camp for a few hrs sleep, knowing that over night as the snow re-froze the river was drop.

As we were putting up our tent i successfully (out of concern for my fellow racer, or sleep deprivation) convinced 3 other team not to cross and go into the gorge. I have been in that upper gorge many times in the past year and once you are in it, there is no escape. With steep walls, and with the river running high, it would be a nightmare in there. So we rest albeit for a few hours and restless as you could imagine. Its raining, and…

After a few hours we rose with several other teams to see the river had dropped and so packed up and went for it. We had to make our way down the Hodder looking for a side stream to exit out of the Hodder, find a CP in a near by creek and then carry on over the saddle and down into the Awatere Valley to the next TA to transition onto our bikes.

I say this will little detail because i knew EXACTLY where that side stream was. I was navigating at that point and didn’t even use the map for the next few hours. We made good time over this ground even though we were in the river which was essentially the stream. It was fun because we caught a lot of teams in this section who found themselves stopping at every stream and creek coming into the Hodder River to check to see if this was the one to go up. Of course i knew, and so flew past as if we knew where we were going… we did.

We found the side stream, found the side creek and got the CP and carried on in the early morning sunshine. We were with an Irish Team at this point as we trekked up over the saddle. As we struck up conversation Pete and I realized that one guy on the team we knew from racing in Abu Dhabi a few years back and hanging out with him after the race in a restaurant, and all 4 of them knowing an Irish girl i raced with in France at World AR Champs in 2012…small world.

We made our way over the saddle and down the valley following quite well defined sheep trails and a compass heading. At this point we were really close to me home in Blenheim, really only over the other side of the Awatere Valley, but some of the most rugged country you could imagine. We got to the TA knowing we were about to put our bike together for our 2nd bike leg and all 160+Km of Molesworth Station (Largest Farm/Ranch in NZ).

The TA was at a local farm and race volunteers greeted us with lasagna, bread and soup. Which was delicious. This is where things took a turn for the worse as we found out the one member of the Irish Team were just with slipped and broke his ankle. WOW, we only saw them about 2hrs ago, but quickly dropping them as we moved down the valley. This was about to be the least of our worries.

As we assembled our bikes, Pete discovered a critical part of his back wheel hub had somehow come off and was lost. This was a small but critical part of any back wheel set and without it, he couldn’t ride, we couldn’t ride…race over!!! This part was so obscure that one wouldn’t carry a replacement like a tube, or pedal, cables, derailleur etc.

One thing you quickly learn in AR is how to respond to adversity and how to be resourceful. What looks like a game changer, or game ender, doesn’t aways have to be. And how you respond says a lot about who you are and who your team are. And if we had quit every race something had gone wrong we wouldn’t finish many races.

One of the race co-directors was there and he came and enquired as to what was our problem. He was very sympathetic. We were also talking to a media person while assembling bikes. She overheard what had happened and said. “I have my bike here, you wanna use my bike wheel?’ After checking dimensions and getting clearance from the RD (who could have time penalized us, but didn’t as he called it an act of God like occurrence) we got out of there.

And off in the Molesworth. Now its hard to explain the Molesworth in words, its very remote, the weather is only 1 of 2 extremes. Really hot or really cold and snowy. In fact the road is closed for 7months of the year due to snow and can still snow in the middle of summer.

We got a HOT day!!!

And it was hot. Biking on a gravel road, lots of climbing. But amazing scenery. I had run a race through here several month earlier and so was familiar with the route again. So off we went, with the map tucked into the pack, knowing that i could get us to Hanmer Springs a small mountain village no worries.

Generally this was a straight forward ride, just hot, but with plenty of water options. Pete felt a little under the weather at times, mostly from not eating enough but other wise we were good. The race started on Saturday and we were biking Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.

We started about lunchtime and rode until about 2am past Hanmer Springs to Glen Wye Station many km’s away. The few hours our Molesworth were spent with 2 other teams that we joined up with to create quite a pelaton and take turns and riding at the front. A group of 12 riders in a bunch can cover more ground than 4.

We rode over the Clarence River again, of course further upstream from where we had crossed in a raft earlier. We rode over a small pass and enjoyed a great downhill into Hanmer Springs hoping to catch the last of the stores before they closed for the night. We managed to get to a bar where several other teams were stopped and so did we for a big feed of fries.

Unfortunately here were encountered more bike problems.

To be Continued…

Part III

Because the Hodder River was really high we decided to put the tent out and camp for a few hrs sleep, knowing that over night as the snow re-froze the river was drop.

As we were putting up our tent i successfully (out of concern for my fellow racer, or sleep deprivation) convinced 3 other team not to cross and go into the gorge. I have been in that upper gorge many times in the past year and once you are in it, there is no escape. With steep walls, and with the river running high, it would be a nightmare in there. So we rest albeit for a few hours and restless as you could imagine. Its raining, and…

After a few hours we rose with several other teams to see the river had dropped and so packed up and went for it. We had to make our way down the Hodder looking for a side stream to exit out of the Hodder, find a CP in a near by creek and then carry on over the saddle and down into the Awatere Valley to the next TA to transition onto our bikes.

I say this will little detail because i knew EXACTLY where that side stream was. I was navigating at that point and didn’t even use the map for the next few hours. We made good time over this ground even though we were in the river which was essentially the stream. It was fun because we caught a lot of teams in this section who found themselves stopping at every stream and creek coming into the Hodder River to check to see if this was the one to go up. Of course i knew, and so flew past as if we knew where we were going… we did.

We found the side stream, found the side creek and got the CP and carried on in the early morning sunshine. We were with an Irish Team at this point as we trekked up over the saddle. As we struck up conversation Pete and I realized that one guy on the team we knew from racing in Abu Dhabi a few years back and hanging out with him after the race in a restaurant, and all 4 of them knowing an Irish girl i raced with in France at World AR Champs in 2012…small world.

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We made our way over the saddle and down the valley following quite well defined sheep trails and a compass heading. At this point we were really close to me home in Blenheim, really only over the other side of the Awatere Valley, but some of the most rugged country you could imagine. We got to the TA knowing we were about to put our bike together for our 2nd bike leg and all 160+Km of Molesworth Station (Largest Farm/Ranch in NZ).

The TA was at a local farm and race volunteers greeted us with lasagna, bread and soup. Which was delicious. This is where things took a turn for the worse as we found out the one member of the Irish Team were just with slipped and broke his ankle. WOW, we only saw them about 2hrs ago, but quickly dropping them as we moved down the valley. This was about to be the least of our worries.

As we assembled our bikes, Pete discovered a critical part of his back wheel hub had somehow come off and was lost. This was a small but critical part of any back wheel set and without it, he couldn’t ride, we couldn’t ride…race over!!! This part was so obscure that one wouldn’t carry a replacement like a tube, or pedal, cables, derailleur etc.

One thing you quickly learn in AR is how to respond to adversity and how to be resourceful. What looks like a game changer, or game ender, doesn’t aways have to be. And how you respond says a lot about who you are and who your team are. And if we had quit every race something had gone wrong we wouldn’t finish many races.

One of the race co-directors was there and he came and enquired as to what was our problem. He was very sympathetic. We were also talking to a media person while assembling bikes. She overheard what had happened and said. “I have my bike here, you wanna use my bike wheel?’ After checking dimensions and getting clearance from the RD (who could have time penalized us, but didn’t as he called it an act of God like occurrence) we got out of there.

And off in the Molesworth. Now its hard to explain the Molesworth in words, its very remote, the weather is only 1 of 2 extremes. Really hot or really cold and snowy. In fact the road is closed for 7months of the year due to snow and can still snow in the middle of summer.

We got a HOT day!!!

And it was hot. Biking on a gravel road, lots of climbing. But amazing scenery. I had run a race through here several month earlier and so was familiar with the route again. So off we went, with the map tucked into the pack, knowing that i could get us to Hanmer Springs a small mountain village no worries.

Generally this was a straight forward ride, just hot, but with plenty of water options. Pete felt a little under the weather at times, mostly from not eating enough but other wise we were good. The race started on Saturday and we were biking Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.

We started about lunchtime and rode until about 2am past Hanmer Springs to Glen Wye Station many km’s away. The few hours our Molesworth were spent with 2 other teams that we joined up with to create quite a pelaton and take turns and riding at the front. A group of 12 riders in a bunch can cover more ground than 4.

We rode over the Clarence River again, of course further upstream from where we had crossed in a raft earlier. We rode over a small pass and enjoyed a great downhill into Hanmer Springs hoping to catch the last of the stores before they closed for the night. We managed to get to a bar where several other teams were stopped and so did we for a big feed of fries.

Unfortunately here were encountered more bike problems.

To be Continued…

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Not Part III

Went for a epic run today… well at least that was the plan.

Left home at 545am this morning to run with 2 women i have never meet and might be potential future AR team mates (at least one of them anyway). The plan was to tackle the 3 Peaks Challenge, an under the radar, no frill but brutally hard run up Mt Fishtail, Mt Robertson & Mt Vernon all at opposite corners of our valley. I have been up all of them before, but never all three in one day. After each peak then drive to the next one. Not an east feat with lots of elevation gained and lost and starting from sea level every time.

Day started well. Summited Mt Fishtail around 10am and began our descent. Felicity and Michele were doing great and holds well for the future. We were almost all Fishtail and back at the truck, when i made a silly mistake and one i should know better.

When running on wet rocks you want to make sure you try and keep your weight over your feet. Or be a straight up and down as possible. This preventing slipping. 99.9% i practice this but today, at this one point i didn’t and BOOM, my feet came out from under me and i ate it hard.

So hard i have a huge, deep gash in my forehead and blood pissing everywhere. I’m now back at home but not before the girls took me to the ER for some serious wound cleaning and 3 chunky stitches.

I quite bummed really as we were doing really well and would have nailed the other 2 peaks. Were on target to complete it in 12 hrs. But dumb ol’ me…

Robin met us at the hospital and i told the girls to go for it, and as i type this they are finishing off the other 2. arrrggghhhh.

Oh well. Could have been a lot worse, i could have been on my own. Here are some photos to gross you out.

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Part II

As we left the TA we begun the 1st of 2 big treks over Tappi. The route had already changed because of a recent storm dumping a lot of snow on the summit and apparently some tricky ice sections. None of which any teams had gear for. The RD’s made this change the day of the race and admitted at the pre race meeting being quite nervous about the storm and how much snow we would see.

We set off looking for a dirt road that would lead to a stream that would take us over one pass and down to the Clarence River. One of the big rivers on the east coast of the South Island. As we moved through the night we saw various teams either passing or being passed by them. Our energy levels were good even though we were climbing all the time up a river that was getting narrower & narrower. We left the river to go over a non-de script pass, stopping at the pass to hear the announcement by me to turn off headlamps and observe the phenomenal stars overhead. This was something I was excited for my American team mates to see and the clarity that night did not disappoint. After some sketchy down climbing we hit another creek that became a river.

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This river was moving quite fast and dirty as the snow melt from the few day old storm was coming off the peaks. We had to cross it several times and this was the 1st legit NZ river crossing for my team mates. Michelle and i linked up for what was to become numerous crossing over the next few days.

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We hit the checkpoint at the Jam Creek hut and quickly made our way to the confluence with the Clarence River. In the pre-race meeting they told us depending on the river flow we would be either walking, swimming, pulling ourselves on a raft or getting transported by jet boat.

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We arrived to be told we would be taking the raft option, which was a relief to Pete, Michelle & Scott. The Clarence only a few days ago was ankle deep but now was wide and swift.

From here we began to climb again making our way up the Inland Kaikoura Range and its highest peak Tapi. The 1st mountain that Sir Ed Hillary climbed. We made our way up with relatively easy navigation now above the bush line and entering the snow and rocks. We made our way to the col/saddle between Mt Tapi & Mt Alarm but not before passing through some heavy laden snow fields, waste deep in places (Normally in March Tapi would be all but free of snow & ice)

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We were very happy to reach the Col with several other teams after a long slog. From here we were in VERY familiar territory. I had trained on this side of Tapi over the summer and knew where we were VERY well. I navigated from here, and that meant not using the map or compass, because i knew exactly and i mean exactly where the turn off to the stream that contained the next CP was. I had just been here about 5 weeks earlier training for the race doing an all-nighter.

We cross Tapi in the late afternoon and so were excited by amazing views. As we made our way down the Hodder River night was beginning to descend. We had now been racing for about 30 hours. It was Sunday night and hadn’t slept since Friday night.

As we made our way down the Hodder River i couldn’t help but notice how high and fast the river was running. I knew we had to cross and once we got into the gorge the “trail” was the river. Again all the snow melt from the sunny day was making the normally sedate Hodder a formidable river.

I had heard stories in the past year about people getting stuck & swept away in the gorge and looking at the river now my anxiety level was up. Especially since not all my team mates were confident river crossers. I also knew that over night as the temps dropped the snow would stop melting and the river level would drop.

What to do…

Well here it is…Part 1

Its been a while coming but here it is. Part 1 of our GodZone Race last month. I have certainly recovered and if anything have to stop eating at some point and get back into some training. And with my team mates all having returned to the USA i have to find new (NZ-based) team mates. In this sport, good women team mates are hard to come by and i might have recently found 2 and they want to get out and train and i’m like GULP… sure lets get on that. But there’s nothing like a few all day death-marches or rides to get back in racing shape.

I’m not sure how many parts these race reports will consist of, but better get started or else it will be time to ned Part 1 and i haven’t written anything.

Race day started early with race maps and instructions all handed out at 8am at Race HQ. All we knew at this stage was what we would be doing, in what order and how long approximately each section would be. We have only received this the day before at 6am. This isn’t unusual as they try to keep the course a secret for as long as possible.

After receiving the maps we literally spent the rest of the morning pouring over maps and looking at route choices. We were in for a long race but one i was particularly excited about as i had successfully predicted generally about 1/3 to 1/2 of the race route, or at least places we would go, not necessarily how we would get there.

The image below shows the general race composition and some broad details. We received this on the day before the race.

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Finally by 1pm on the Saturday the race started. It was a different sort of start but not unusual for long AR’s. We were to spilt up with Michelle and I running a Coasteering section (running etc around the coast) with a short & VERY cold swim along the way, while Peter & Scott jumped in the 2-person kayaks and paddled a rectangular course off the coast of Kaikoura. Eventually we would come back together and switch, with Michelle & I jumping in then kayaks and paddling the same course and Pete & Scott running the same section we had.

This was done to keep the race in the same confined area for the 1st couple of hours to allow for lots of publicity shots and the one time the spectators could see all of us in the same space. Because as you can imagine the race gets really spread out.

After this we were into the transition area (TA) to assemble our bike, yes assemble as they are transported in bike boxes by race management between stages when we are not using them. This becomes more cumbersome and mundane as the race drags on with fatigue etc.

We set off on our bikes up the coast slowly reeling in various teams. We were as high as 7th at one stage as we rode up the quickly clouding in Puhi Puhi Valley, gaining elevation as we went. Eventually the road turned int farm trails and turned into NOTHING. The Race Directors (RD’s) had intended for us to get over a mountain doing nothing but hike-a-bike. Now i’ve done my fair share of hike-a bike, but this was like no other. Climbing up hill and over rocks and through prickly scrub was misery. This really spread the team out and to do this in the first few hours of the race was a sneak peek of what was to come.

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The silver lining was that as we climbed higher cleared the valley cloud and were greeted with some mint views

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We finally made it to the top we were found a trail leading us down to where we needed to go just in time before it got totally dark. The ride down was really sweet and was a lot of elevation lost. We crossed a river and rode some relatively easy trails to the next TA where we traded our bikes for running shoes.

The race started at 1pm it was now 11pm and were about to enter our 1st night out. And begin the climb over the iconic Tapuae-o-Uenuku and very famous mountain in NZ.