GODZoners call on experience


A Queenstown team taking on the epic 530km GODZone adventure race say they won’t turn it into a “suffer-fest”.

Competitors Mark Williams, Hadyn Key, Lisa Bates and Bas Smith head into the Tasman and Nelson wilderness tomorrow.

They face up to seven days of unsupported racing across challenging terrain. Choosing the best route, and when to sleep, is all part of the challenge.

Williams says they’ll call on experience to resist the urge to race to exhaustion.

“We’re all of a very similar mindset – to have a great adventure rather than a suffer-fest,” he says.

“We’re not going to push through horrendous sleep deprivation.

“Through experience we know it’s more efficient if you can move fast while you’re fresh and making good decisions.

“As soon as you start making mistakes, getting tired, it’s cold and dark, you’re blundering around, it’s time to stop and put your feet up.”

The GODZone, which comes to Queenstown next year, sees about 60 teams race the full 500km-plus distance.

They run, kayak and cycle - carrying about 10kg of gear and food between transition areas.

Others complete a shorter 400km pursuit race.

This year’s course bears the stamp of New Zealand multisport legend Nathan Fa’avae, who co-designed it.

Smith, who finished fourth in the Motatapu ultra-run earlier this month, says that’s part of the attraction.

“We are keen to venture to some of those places that he wants to showcase.

“It should be spectacular.”

Smith and Key raced to third place in the inaugural GODZone in Milford Sound in 2012.

Williams, who last month won the mixed category of The Pioneer MTB stage race through the Southern Alps with team mate Kate Fluker, says the team has no illusions about competing for a win.

But a podium would be a “great bonus”.

“If we get to day three and we’re up among the frontrunners, of course we’ll give it a nudge.

“But it’s more about adventure than popping on the podium.”

The four will race as the Rebel Foods team and Williams expects they should be done in about five days.

“There’ll be some wear and tear on our bodies but we’ve done the yards and it’s about managing it and making sure we’re not pushing too hard.

“We’re going to race our own race, at our own speed, and see where we pop out.”

They’ve mostly trained separately, taking on different challenges, but have done some mini-missions together, kayaking across Lake Wakatipu and climbing Cecil Peak.

Bates says: “We’ve only had a couple of sessions together but everyone has been doing their own training so it should all come together during the week.

“It’s going to be heaps of fun.”

GODZone starts tomorrow.