Chasing Glory attains namesake at Adventure Race
Nelson team Chasing Glory won the long course race at the Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race held in the Wairau Valley and Rainbow skifield on Saturday in testing conditions. The team (Gus Jennings, Joe MacIntyre, Perry Turner) set the pace from the start.
Credit - Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race
70-teams started the race with a 500-metre trail run from the base of Rainbow Skifield to the Wairau River, where they boarded rafts for a 9km stretch of whitewater rafting to Chinaman Stream. They then set off on mountain bikes for an arduous stage up Beeby’s Knob, along Maitland Ridge to Red Hill and back to the Wairau, a total of 46km. Chasing Glory held a comfortable lead throughout the ride but were being chased hard by Waimea College youth team Vibrant Earth Skid Marks (Cameron Jones, Ryan Doyle, Luke Born). Another Nelson team Kayak HQ (Lou Perkins, John Hart, Jared Wadsworth) were riding strongly in third position, these top three teams moving ahead of the field.
Overnight showers meant the Maitland Ridge single track was very technical in places, rewarding the experienced mountain bikers, teams also had to pay close attention to the map collecting control points as they progressed through.
Back in the valley the teams dropped their bikes in exchange for running shoes and compasses for a navigation challenge around Woolshed Flat, approximately 4km. The lead teams completed the stage in the same ranking and then had another mammoth uphill on bikes to complete the next stage which ended at Rainbow Skifield. Poor weather meant visibility was minimal as teams set off on an alpine trek. Race staff shortened the stage for safety reasons but it was still very difficult with the fog sitting close to the tussocks. All the lead teams made errors and felt they had lost time, but returning to the ski field Chasing Glory were still in first place so they rapidly changed into bike gear for the final leg, a 14km downhill ride to the base of the mountain. Team Vibrant Earth Skids Marks moved into second place and Team Donkey Dust (Belinda McCone, James McCone, Duncan Rutherford) navigated strongly to claim third place.
Chasing Glory team captain MacIntyre commented “we had a great race, we were glad the race management shortened the trek, conditions were challenging and it’s good to know the race organisers are making the safety decisions for us, I’m not keen to bike up the Rainbow Skifield road again though”. The team took just over eleven hours to complete the 94km course which included six stages.
The first womens team to finish the 12-hour event was Adventure Gals (Catherine Kircher, Ellen Pullar, Freya O’Donoghue). They appeared to be enjoying every minute of the course and navigated confidently to reach the finish just shy of thirteen hours.
The 6-hour event did the same rafting stage but then biked to Rainbow Skifield through a series of checkpoints. Defending champions from Canterbury were back, Waihora Wombelers (Jason Arnold, Gareth Ward, Dave Bailey). Being in the veteran category didn’t phase the team for racing for the outright win and for the second year running they achieved that goal, with a ten minute margin over team WTF-Wheres the Finish (Matt Galbraith, Martin Green, James Howden). It was close racing in the 6-hour event with twenty teams finishing within 50-minutes of each other. Third place went to team Could Have Been All Blacks (Rhys Horncastle, Ben Coman, Steve Milson).
The 6-hour race totalled 49km over four stages.
The 3-hour event also had four stages but on a shorter 26km route. Leading off the water was two school teams, the Waihora Pocket Rockets boys team from Tai Tapu School (Lui Arnold, Hamish Sadler, Reece Rush) and Motueka High School girls team (Jessie Fa’avae, Davis Sunbye, Kyla Rayward), racing as Da Just Krazy. The girls were first to start on the 4km bike sprint to Woolshed Flat, where they headed off on the 4km orienteering loop. By this stage leading mens team JRC (Robbie Swarbrik, Craig Brixton, Jamie Thirkettle) moved to the front and the schools boys into second place. But a rapid transition from the Motueka High School team saw them onto stage three in first place and they recorded an impressive time through the stage to maintain the lead. On the final stage, an 8km mountain bike ride with some navigation elements, team JRC regained the lead and edged ahead to win by 8-minutes. The race for second place was neck and neck between the school teams with the Waihora Pockets Rockets nudging ahead to take second place, with team Da Just Crazy claiming third.
Race Director Nathan Fa’avae commented “It’s really pleasing to see so many school teams participating in adventure races as they’re significant challenges and quite complex, I think they learn a lot. The school teams are not just taking part, they’re pushing the adults really hard, these teenage kids are racing for line honours, it’s an awesome testament to how strong New Zealand is in the sport Internationally, young people racing confidently and capably”.
Feedback from participants was extremely positive with the common theme being the wilderness settings and level of adventure the courses provided. “The different courses had varying degrees of difficulty but I think the rewards were there, the challenges justified. A lot of people struggled biking up to the skifield, but the chance to do a hiking stage in the alpine was unique and worth the effort, then they got to ride back down again. I’m sure many people will be driving up to the skifield over winter and thinking to themselves, ‘wow, I biked up this road’, they’ll be proud of that” Fa’avae said.
The Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race prides itself of providing authentic and achievable adventure racing experiences in high quality wilderness settings, the 2018 edition is being planned for Reefton, March 10th and 11th.
Absolute Wilderness Freeze Dry Meals
2B Insect Repellent
Rainbow Ski Area