This is the third instalment of a series of races and will be known as Chapter 3. GODZone will once again use the journey concept where teams will be expected to traverse some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes with a logical pathway from start to finish.
The route is a distance of approximately 500km. Teams will be expected to navigate, trek, mountain bike, kayak and canoe over a vast array of different landscapes. Other disciplines may be included which will test the mental and physical skills of participants. The route will be highly demanding both technically and physically, testing teams in many different ways and those taking part in the event should not underestimate the importance of being well prepared. GODZone in New Zealand represents the pinnacle of adventure racing challenges and individuals should plan accordingly.
Teams must pass through a series of mandatory checkpoints along the course before reaching the finish. They will be provided with marked maps and team handbook which will be give valuable insight into the challenges ahead. Competitors change from one mode of transportation to another at designated transition areas. Transition areas and some checkpoints are staffed with race officials and medical personnel, as well as volunteers from around the world.
Those taking on GODZone will be expected to travel day and night, with decisions to rest and sleep left solely to the discretion of the teams themselves. It is anticipated that the winning team will take between three and four days to finish. Teams may be allowed to take as many as seven days to complete the course. There will be short course options available to those teams unable to complete the full course in the allotted time.
Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in Kaikoura. The seaside settlement is the most northern district in the Canterbury region located on the east coast of the South Island. With a population of approximately 3,600 residents, the Kaikoura township is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. Captain Cook first discovered the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island. The first shore whaling station was established in 1843, located near where Fyffe House still stands today. Other whaling stations soon followed, and at one stage the industry employed over one hundred men in the Kaikoura district alone. Whale numbers steadily declined after 1850 and the exportation of them became un-economic, leading whalers to turn to alternative means of existence, such as farming. Whaling continued sporadically until as recently as 1964 when the last of NZ’ s whaling operations ceased.
What can participants expect from the course?
Chapter 2 course
One of the unique attributes about GODZone is the fact that the course remains secret to the final few hours before the event starts. Teams are provided a logistics planner before the start which allows them to organise their gear and food into some kind of order. Once gear has been lodged with logistics officials, teams will have time to relax at the host location before they receive the maps and team handbook. To complete the full course teams must navigate through all the checkpoints and arrive at the finish line before the course closes. The course will be highly challenging for first time expedition racers and experienced teams alike.
The course is generally linear and as such, it will feel like a journey for competitors from start to finish. Whilst some teams will ‘race’ their way through the wilderness, most should treat GODZone as an expedition that will provide an unrivalled sense of fulfilment should they complete the course in the time frame allowed.
It is expected that the winning team will complete the course in three to four days, with weather and other mitigating factors having some influence on the final outcome. All other teams will be permitted up to seven days to complete the course. There will be at least one mid-race cut off which will allow the slowest teams to move towards the finish in an accelerated fashion. GODZone are keen to encourage and help as many teams as practical to reach the finish line and at the same time experience the most exciting stages.
What are the main disciplines of GODZone?
Many teams underestimate the importance of navigation in adventure races. It is vital that you have at least one competent navigator in your team. The course will demand strong map skills and present teams with numerous route decisions that could significantly impact performance.
Most stages of the race will have a navigational element which underlines its importance. On some parts of the course you may travel for many hours before seeing a TA or CP (with several route options available) meaning tactical planning will be just as important as following the map. The organisers strongly believe that the winning team should combine both brains and brawn so competitors should focus on a subtle balance of physical prowess versus skills, such as navigation and route planning.
There has been an increasing trend in recent years for navigators to rely less on their compass and more on their map reading skills and contour recognition. The result of this was quite apparent on the tough navigation sections in Chapter 1 and we urge all those taking part to not underestimate the importance of this basic, but highly effective, tool. Teams are reminded that there is a significant Magnetic Declination (around 23.5 degrees) in the South Island.
It’s a fact of life that you spend a lot of time on your feet in expedition length races and it is no different at GODZone. Traveling by foot through a wide variety of terrain is one of the most basic skills of the budding adventure racer but you should not underestimate its importance. Teams will need to be competent trekkers, be confident over rugged terrain and understand potential hazards such as exposed ridges and river crossings. Those who have experienced previous Chapters of GODZone will understand that travelling along paths is often the exception and not the rule so prepare for some rough travel.
Due to the wild nature of GODZone courses, we have made it mandatory for teams to carry a tent, four sleeping bags and plenty of clothes. This means that the 20L backpacks that have become almost the norm in other races are not suitable here. This additional burden will slow teams down considerably and can have a debilitating effect on your feet if they are not well prepared.
Teams should be prepared for a range of riding including fire trails, steep hills, unsealed roads, cross country, sealed roads and single track. The organisers will do their utmost to keep bike pushing and carrying to a minimum but teams should accept that it is not practical in all situations to avoid every route which throws up such challenges.
Kayaking in could be on inland rivers, lakes, fiords and on the sea. Generally, inland paddling will be permitted during both day and night, though this may be dictated by river flows. Dark zones may also be enforced on white water and/or any exposed lake sections or the sea if the conditions merit it. Specific details will be outlined at the pre-event briefing.
Teams will paddle the AR Duo kayaks which are widely regarded as the best fleet of kayaks that have ever been produced for an expedition race. They combine good performance with a stable design and have a number of tailor made features to enhance the paddling experience.
Canoeing could be on inland rivers, lakes, fiords and on the sea. Generally, inland paddling. As a general rule, GODZone will use the canoes for running white water
They have a fleet of commercial grade inflatable canoes capable of running class 4+ rapids (though we don’t envisage GODZone competitors doing that in Chapter 3 – but it could be Grade 3+). Each inflatable comes as a complete unit which means that they will usually provide canoes, paddles, pumps and buoyancy aids. They supply both Canadian and double bladed paddles so contestants need to be prepared for either.
GODZone may have fixed ropes which will have to be negotiated for teams to proceed along the course. This could include, amongst other things, descending (abseiling), ascending (jumaring), tyrolean traverses (flying fox), scrambling, crampons and ice axes and even Canyon Swings. Failure to complete a rope activity will normally mean that a team will become unranked but may be permitted to continue on the course. All rope activities will be supervised by experienced and trained professionals.
All of the participants will have a YB tracker allocated to them in registration. Once the challenge has started the YB tracker will transmit the GPS position, direction, speed amongst other things every fifteen minutes. This means that loved ones at home can view the contestants progress in near real time. The YB trackr is not only for tracking, it is also a safety device, with the organisers using them to keep tabs on positions and if anything does go wrong all the teams need to do is press the alert button on the tracker, which will alert the organisers and help will be directed easily and efficiently to the teams exact ordinates.
You can see how the teams are doing by going to the GODZone website and clicking on the online map.