Absolute Adventure

07/04/2015 by Steve Knowles


The 2nd Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race was held in the Murchison region over the Easter weekend with 34-teams taking on the challenges of the three categories on the offer, the three, six and twelve hour options.

The event was run by Adventure Racing World Champion and captain of Team Seagate Nathan Fa’avae. It hosted teams from Nelson / Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury.

In typically adventure racing fashion the course was kept secret until the night before the event. Fa’avae said “we wanted the navigation to be a strong theme in this years race, it makes it a more level playing field, you can get fast teams who are not strong navigators, and slower teams who are much more accurate with their map skills”. Navigation is always a key component in adventure racing with the participants navigating their route through the course through a series of checkpoints using only maps and compasses.

The event started with teams rafting from the Lower Gowan river into the Buller River and finished at Rait Road bridge, the 11km rafting stage included the technical Granity rapid.

Exiting the rafts the three and six hours teams transitioned to mountain bikes for testing ride from Owen Junction, up Two Mile Creek and down into Maggie Creek, joining the Owen Valley and riding to Frying Pan Creek. From here teams hiked into Sandstone Creek into an off-track section with some difficult sections to traverse. Rejoining the Owen Valley it was back onto bikes and down to Owen Reserve to finish.

The twelve hour teams had a mountainous challenge when their course had them climbing an untracked  spur from the rafting exit to the summit of Mount Murchison at almost 1500-metres above sea level. From the summit they descended west through bush areas to the Buller River where they collected mountain bikes. From there it was onto some indistinct trails and a historical road to join the six hour race course which they completed also.

In the twelve hour race the lead changed multiple times as the day unfolded. With a number of teams exiting the rafting close together it was the youthful team Lifestyle Accounting (Nathan Sturrock, Lachlan Brownlie, Hamish Sturmer) who set the fast ascent up Mount Murchison. They held a six minute lead over the Super Adventure Club (Tim Fraser-Harris, Ben Moulam, Patrick Higgins) with Aniseed Valley (Simon Bloomberg, Jane Orbell, Mike Buschl) a further five minutes back but leading the mixed teams. Nelson team Menage a Trios (John Harris, Vicki Shelling, Joe MacIntyre) were fifth to the summit and leading the Veteran division.

By the end of the stage the positions hadn’t changed with Lifestyle Accounting extending their lead to ten minutes over the Super Adventure Club and Aniseed Valley.

Unknowingly, Super Adventure Club passed Lifestyle Accounting on the mountain bike stage to the Owen Valley to take the lead. A few hours later at transition area three (TA3) it was Aniseed Valley who had been the big movers, arriving at TA3 in the lead just ahead of Super Adventure Club, with both teams in transition at the same time it was all action as they prepared for the final mountain bike stage to the finish.

Lifestyle Accounting had some problems in the Sandstone and slipped to fourth place at TA3.

Crossing the finish line to win the twelve hour race was Super Adventure Club who had been well timed and paced throughout. Second place was well deserved to Aniseed Valley with Lifestyle Accounting ending strongly to earn third. Menage a Trios won the Veteran section.

In the six hour event the teams had a 44km course to contend with. The distance could have easily led to teams thinking the race would be easy but the terrain they travelled was demanding.

Emerging from the woods in first place was Nelson veteran team the Woodies (Malcolm Edridge, Craig Wallace, Brad Wallace). They led from the rafting stage through the race to win the six hour event outright, repeating their victory from 2014. Second home was mixed youth team Waimea Oceangate (Libby Malthus, Elliott Kennedy, Cameron Jones), and third was the Cereal Killers (Callum Irvine, Paul Dukes, Stephen Busby).

The three hour event was won by junior boys team 2 Fast 4 Waimea (Hamish Anderson, Clayton Anderson, Finn Mitchell). With an average age of thirteen the boys impressed everyone with their attitude and ability.

The race started and finished in fine weather with some showers through the middle of the day.

The later teams who didn’t finish the race until 3:00am, enjoyed racing under the Blood moon thanks to the total lunar eclipse.

The event was also a fund easier for the U13 Wanderers Rugby team who are raising money to tour Fiji in 2016. At the awards Fa’avae also thanked the support of local landowners and D.O.C. for their support in providing the event land access.

“That was the best 1-day adventure race I’ve ever done” Rhys Johns (team J-Dub & the Staggy B’s)

The event sponsors were Absolute Wilderness Freeze Meals, Torpedo 7 and Ampro.

The 2016 event will be held on April 1st-3rd.


Full results and images: www.absolutewilderness.co.nz


Category Winners


Junior Men                  2 Fast 4 Waimea        



Open Men                   Fast N Furious                        6:27

Open Mixed                Waimea Oceangate                6:18

Veteran Men               Woodies                                  5:45

Veteran Mixed                        Waihora Womblers                 6:26



Open Men                   Super Adventure Club                        11:21

Open Mixed                Aniseed Valley                                    11:23

Veteran Men               W & M Power                         15:46  

Veteran Mixed                        Menage a Trois                       12:19