A veteran Queenstown partnership and a brand new team will take on pros at the World Rogaining Championships this weekend.
And their secret weapon is scoffing pizza and chocolate croissants.
Elite orienteerers Phil Wood, 39, and Bruce McLeod, 37, got automatic entry to the event at Cheviot, Canterbury, because Wood was a reigning national rogaine champ last year.
The aim of rogaine is for teams to clock up as many points as possible in the allocated time. To do this, they need to find spots marked out on a precise map and collect points there. The harder or further away those spots are to reach, the more points teams amass.
Between them, Wood and McLeod have a long list of titles in orienteering and rogaine and have nabbed first place in almost everything they’ve entered in the past three years – including the Southern Traverse and Adventure Quest.
A second at Heights of Winter Rogaine in Wanaka this year marred their near-perfect record.
In contrast, local ladies Mary Jowett, 42, and Anna Bastin, 34, are pairing up for the first time to tackle the open women’s category.
The Queenstowners will join several hundred leading athletes from about 20 countries for the gruelling grind, collecting points from allocated spots from midday Saturday to midday Sunday.
Jowett: “There’ll be world-ranked competitors out there and they should be phenomenal to watch”.
Both teams predict they’ll rest up for just an hour to swap socks, tend to blisters and top up on energy.
But far from tackling a healthy diet during the contest, the men plan to down a large Hell Pizza each while the women are eyeing chocolate croissants for breakfast.
“Even for a 24 hour race, it’s still quite fast-paced. You’re wanting to be on the go all the time, so an hour’s break is brilliant,” Jowett says.