EXCITEMENT BUILDS AS THE WORLD’S LARGEST EXPEDITION RACE RETURNS TO FIORDLAND THIS MONTH
All eyes will be on Te Anau and Fiordland when One New Zealand GODZONE returns on the 23rd of February – the 4th of March 2023.
The prestigious Expedition Racing World Championships will bring hundreds of adventure racers from New Zealand and around the world to the lakeside settlement in anticipation of the eleventh chapter of the event.
“GODZONE ranks right up there as the race most international competitors dream about doing,” says GODZONE race director Warren Bates. “Welcoming back international teams, after a two-year COVID -enforced hiatus is very exciting. Fiordland tends to attract those adventure competitors looking for the full-on experience, so this might be a one-off trip of a lifetime for many.”
Te Anau will buzz with excitement as the teams arrive for the official registration and race start on Thursday, 23rdFebruary. The extensive field includes New Zealand’s most successful adventure racing team and GODZONE reigning champions Avaya with Nathan Fa’avae, Stu Lynch, Chris Forne and Sophie Hart returning to defend their title.
” I fully expect this team will achieve their goal and win Chapter 11,” says Bates. “Avaya are so well polished it is hard to see anyone yet beat them. There is a ruthless simplicity and efficiency about how they go about racing, which lends itself well to relentless speed through the course. They constantly seek a way to be faster even if their bodies are getting older.”
Nathan Fa’avae received an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the recent New Year honours for his remarkable career in adventure racing.
“It’s hard to overestimate the impact Nathan has had on the sport of adventure racing and as a talisman for a world-class team over countless years,” says Bates. ” He is an inspiration to many athletes at all levels of ability and responsible for bringing thousands of new entrants, particularly females, to the sport.”
“Whenever Nathan decides to call it a day, he will be able to reflect on a stellar career as a racer with a unique ability to execute on any course, in any location, on any terrain around the world without making it look difficult. There hasn’t been anyone else like him.”
Fiordland and Southland offers a vast area with almost unlimited scope for the gruelling expedition race, where teams (of four) will navigate their route around a 580km course using a map and compass.
“The GZ PURE course is approximately 580km long with 12,000m of ascent and the GZ Pursuit course is roughly 40km shorter with 10,500m of ascent,” says Bates. “As for terrain, teams will travel over more high tops in this chapter meaning less time immersed in the forest, offering incredible views of the region. This more open travel should offer some navigational respite and the possibility of a higher finish rate of teams. Our expected winning time is four and half to five days.”
GODZONE competitors will race non-stop (day and night) using multiple disciplines of trekking, mountain biking, pack rafting and kayaking and will only receive their geographical maps on the first day of racing.
“Our challenge is always to offer course variety – not just endless bush travel on foot – with a route that holds up reasonably well in any weather conditions. Many parts of Fiordland are off-limits due to DOC restrictions, so we have been creative in utilising more of the region’s front country. We’re thinking that not many people will have guessed the finish line location.”
“The teams will be required to make smart decisions about the best routes and be mindful of the weather,” says Bates. “There is one section where taking a packraft is optional, and they will have to strategise over the merits of taking all their rafting gear and moving faster, versus travelling light, without rafts. The relative strengths of teams might dictate these choices, the weather or even what time of day, making following GODZONE online fascinating to watch.”
Images photo credit: One New Zealand GODZONE
What: One New Zealand GODZONE Chapter 11
Event: 2023 Expedition Racing World Championships
When: 23rd February – 4th March 2023
Where: Te Anau, Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand
Course: The course route remains a secret until the event begins.
For more information, interview & imagery requests, contact:
Expedition Racing World Championships
One New Zealand GODZONE Media Manager
P: +64 21 246 3342