The battle lines have been drawn for the upcoming GODZone adventure race being held in Canterbury from the 10th– 17thMarch with over 250 athletes from around the world vying for a win.
It’s the first time the seven-day expedition adventure race, the largest of its kind in the world, has been held in the region with the eighth chapter attracting a significant number of teams with high profile multisport backgrounds.
“We are lucky enough to have an adventure racing event of this calibre here in New Zealand – it attracts international talent and helps others to progress forward,” says GODZone Race Director Adam Fairmaid.
“World champion adventure racer Chris Forne is back and will be leading a top team through the region he calls home. Chris has raced and won every chapter of GODZone since 2011 except in 2017 when he lost to team Tiki Tour. He will be looking for victory in Canterbury and it will take a very good team to pip his extraordinary navigational talent.”
Team Swordfox from Nelson with Georgia Whitla, Ash Whitehead, Brent Edwards and Stuart Lynch have a score to settle with Forne after narrowly missing out on GODZone glory last year.
“Swordfox bounced between first and second place last year but on the last trekking stage which was pretty brutal they just couldn’t catch Forne,” says Fairmaid. “They have consistently placed in the top three over the past eight years and will be charging for Chapter 8.”
Queenstown based team Tiki Tour will be looking to repeat their Chapter 6 win in Queenstown.
“The Lucas boys Tom and George are solid athletes and the Canterbury terrain should suit these guys and their team very well. It’s on strongman George Lucas's backdoor step so we will definitely be watching them,” says Fairmaid.
With 70 teams across three racing categories including the full course 600km Pure event and shorter formatted 500km Pursuit and Prime events, the field is expected to take anywhere between five and seven days to complete the journey.
Countries represented in the athlete line up include Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Britain, the USA and Argentina.
“A1 Australian Adventure Series winners Team Thought Sports led by Rob Preston are coming across to ramp up some trans-Tasman rivalry. He is incredibly experienced and persistent and this team should present a real threat this year,” says Fairmaid. “ Aussie team Mont Adventure led by Paul Cuthbert might also surprise us.”
USA team Bend Racing who took out the Chapter 7 GODZone International trophy are returning looking for more.
“Led by Stephen Thompson, this US team always bring an exceptional team spirit to racing and have steadily shown real ability. They were thrilled to win that trophy last year and won’t give it up easily.”
The GODZone course will remain a secret until teams arrive in Akaroa for registration on Saturday 9thMarch. The teams will navigate their own way around the course using a variety of multisport disciplines including mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and pack rafting.
“Competitors don’t know where or when they will receive the race maps but suffice to say there’s plenty of conjecture as to where it might go,” says Fairmaid. “As a non-stop race GODZone teams choose when they will stop to sleep and eat with many completing the entire race on as little as 3 to 4 hours of sleep.”
“Canterbury is an incredibly diverse region with a lot of contrast from braided and meandering rivers to big, technical mountain ranges. It should be a spectacular race with some interesting twists and turns along the way,” says Fairmaid.