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Five days of adventure in Southland

Jul 30, 2012

Five days racing from Milford Sound to Queenstown has left Cranleigh director Andy Reid with a thirst to do more expedition racing.

Andy was part of a mixed team of four taking part with 30 other teams in the inaugural Godzone Adventure Race the first expedition race in New Zealand since 2005. Teams from Belgium, Singapore and Australia competed alongside New Zealand racers.

Andy, along with Blair McKinnon, Ali Scarlet and Andrew MacDonald, kayaked, trekked, mountain biked and canoed while orienteering their way around the 500km course. The team came 21st wasn't a bad effort as I was one of the oldest competitors on the course at 54, Says Andy.

He says the team's aim was to finish the race. We weren't concerned about times or placings. It was getting round the course, finishing in good shape and knowing we had achieved a major feat. Three weeks before the race Andy wrenched his back and required intensive acupuncture and physiotherapy to make it to the start line.

Competitors were given the course map on the way to the start line at the entrance to Milford Sound was unnerving, but after so much preparation a relief to see what we would be up against.

The five day expedition race started in the dark with a kayak race back to the Terminal as dawn was breaking. It was a special way to start, says Andy.

He says the logistics and planning just to get to the start line were daunting and the race was the easy part. To make the race as easy as possible a lot of effort was put into planning, logistics, nutrition and team selection, making sure everyone was compatible, and team roles.

We put together a project plan last year for the April race. It was a big job making sure we had the right equipment and clothing and then sorting it into boxes for each stage when we got to Queenstown. That took nearly a day to organise.

Nutrition was a major factor for the team. During an expedition race competitors burn 6000 calories a day and they have to be replaced. We went to a nutritionist and devised a plan, which we tested scientifically, and during the race we ate every 30 minutes whether we wanted to or not.

He says some of the times allowed for parts of the race were rather optimistic. A trek the organisers estimated would take 15-24 hours took us 40 hours and the quickest team finished in 25 hours. We had just enough food to get us to the transition point.

The final stage or the race was a 50km kayak down Lake Wakatipu from Glenorchy to Queenstown. With the wind behind us It was a nice way to finish,says Andy.

Apart from a few hiccups, Andy says the race was well organised and when it becomes better known will become a must do race for expedition teams around the globe.

The world's first adventure race, the French-organised Raid Gauloise was held in New Zealand in the early 90s and a New Zealand team won. This led to the New Zealand-organised expedition race The Southern Traverse. This race attracted teams from around the world, but the course became too difficult and many competitors were failing to finish. It eventually petered out in 2005.

There was nothing to replace the race and Andy says the sport in New Zealand was held back for years. The Godzone Adventure Race is a good replacement and puts the sport in New Zealand back on the map with a challenging experience.

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