Blisters, sleep deprivation and magic


Punishing sleep deprivation and good old blisters pushed a Queenstown team to the limit during a gruelling endurance race. 

Novice team Queenstown PlaceMakers took almost exactly six days to complete the Godzone course from Mt Cook to Queenstown. 

And its four members’ decision to limit themselves to just two hours’ sleep a night took its toll. 

“Sleep deprivation can really play with your mind,” competitor Sam Wright says. 

“Little things that normally wouldn’t bother you become big things, everything’s slower, and everything takes more effort,” she adds. 

Wright and her fellow racers Di Liddell, Lucas Fornes and Gary Erving crammed into a two-man tent for the two-hour sleeps, often on roadsides or uneven ground. 

And a 27-hour big push on the last stage to Queenstown gave them a total of 10 hours’ sleep during the six days. 

“Physically we were unbelievably good,” Wright says. 

“We trained well and had no joint or muscle pain – the biggest problem was blisters and the lack of sleep. 

“Some teams finished in a few days and had just two hours’ sleep total. 

“You hear stories they were at each other’s throats, having all-out tantrums – if anything we were probably too quiet as a team when the odd little outburst would have kicked us on.” 

Team PlaceMakers spent six arduous hours making its way down from the Crown Range into Queenstown, to meet two dozen supporters at the finish line. 

The team finished 28th overall of 35 teams, with five unable to finish the 514km course of mountaineering, cycling, kayaking and tramping. 

And the epic course was reward enough says Wright, who plans to compete in 2014. 

“It was fantastic, just unbelievable. 

“The first stage, mountaineering with Mt Cook in the background, was a highlight, and the first tramp up Dingleburn,” Wright says. 

“We left at 3am, walked up through the clouds, turned around and all we saw was cloud and peaks with the sunrise – it was just one of those magical moments.”