Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 20, 2017

The GODZone Race and more “wanderings”

The GODZone!


I heard about The GODZone  adventure race from some friends last December and decided to see if they needed volunteers.   Of course they did, and I signed up to help!


For those of you who know about “Adventure Racing”, it is all very hush-hush because the contestants are not supposed to know the course and thus cannot “prepare” or go over the course ahead of time. (I actually did an adventure race near Grand Junction years ago – whew it was tough and it was only 2 days!)   Adventure racing covers multible “venues”, so in the GODZone there would be hiking, backpacking, running, kayaking, and biking.  Pretty fun!  And the race was between 24 February to 4 March (a full week!)  Each team would consist of 4 racers and one had to be female.   There were two classes of teams: the Pure Teams (they could not have any help along the way) and the Pursuit Teams (they had a support crew who could meet them at the transition points – but not anywhere else!).  There were 55 Pure Teams and 15 Pursuit Teams.  Even as a volunteer, there wasn’t much they could tell me before the race – I had a feeling that I would be out on the course somewhere – but didn’t know where or what it would look like.


So I showed up on February 23rd and committed myself to “be there” till March 4th.   Even on the 23rd, they couldn’t tell me where I would be stationed, but I did find out that I could drive to my location!   WooHoo! I can take BlueJay (My lovely Toyota Van) and sleep (or take cat naps) in her while working the race!


Since I was there on the Thursday before the race, I was asked to help with “Gear Check”.   Now I felt like I was in my element – how many times have I done gear check for races in Crested Butte?   (Lots!) I ended up at the “Jacket Check” – and we inspected every contestant’s rain jacket to be sure it was waterproof and had been seam sealed.   What was awesome about this gear check was that it was at the top of the gondola in Queenstown.   So I got a free trip to the top of the world down here!   After doing gear check and listening to the welcome speeches, one of my new friends and I walked down from the top to the bottom of the gondola – good workout for my knees!


That evening I found out where I was to be – first at a spot (P3) where the contestants transitioned from kayaking on the Shotover River to hiking up a gorge (they called it “gorgeering”!). The transition area was a tight trail right up from the river (an amazing spot!).   Then I was transferred to a “beach” along the Lake Wakatipu – TA6.   This was to be my station for 5 days!  The whole course was 406 kilometers (and hard ones at that!)   If you zoom in on this map you can see the distances on each discipline.   And if you know the Queenstown area, you can see that these are not easy routes!

This is the map of the course – Quite the route!

There were 4 of us in charge of that transition point known as TA6.   We would be “on duty” 24 hours a day – so we took turns taking naps.   At our station there were 2 kayaks for each team, plus each team had a box of gear and a mesh bag plus paddle bag with kayak equipment in it. The contestants came into our station after hiking up and over Mt. Creighton at 1870 meters (6135 feet) after starting at 400 meters (1312 feet). And trust me, those were not easy meters to gain and come down again!


Luckily they didn’t all show up at our station at the same time – but trickled in at all hours of the day.   Some chose to camp at our location and other teams came in, changed, and were out again in a jiffy.      Every team had to “punch in” with us when they arrived and we noted the time, and then they “punched out” when they left (again we noted the time and relayed it to the race headquarters).


At our Transition Area, the contestants changed from their hiking gear into their kayak gear, and took off up Lake Wakatipu till they got to Glenorky and there transitioned onto their mountain bikes for a 110 km (68 mile) mountain bike section (not an easy trail by any means!) They still had another large hiking section and then another long kayak section before the finish.


It was nothing short of AMAZING!   I was in awe of these athletes!   They put their bodies through quite a lot and still were smiling!


After the last teams came through our transition area (on Wednesday – having started on Saturday), I helped clean up the area and everything was loaded up and carted off.   Then I went to the finish line, and did what I could to help with the jobs there.   And of course, whenever a team came in, we cheered and applauded them heartily!


I have come away with some wonderful new Kiwi friends from the race, lots of memories, and had such a wonderful time helping with a “big boys” race!

Since then I had 4 wonderful sunny days to do a backpacking trip up to a remote hut above Mavora Lakes – I didn’t see anyone for 3 of those days (pretty opposite of being in the Queenstown area!)  This season I have actually been to 5 different huts that I had never been to before:   The Rangi Hut (North Island), The Double Hut and Manuka Hut (above Lake Heron, South Island), The Forks Hut and Carries Hut (Mavora Lakes, South Island).   Way fun!


Now I am just “wandering” in Southland…   I spent a couple of nights at Monkey Island Beach – lots of walking in the surf and enjoying fresh mussels which I harvested off the rocks!   Life is good and I am still loving New Zealand!



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