Spring Challenge - Adventure women find their way



465-teams of 3-women navigated their way to the finish line in the biggest adventure race in the world, the Spring Challenge. The 14th edition of the iconic race was held in Christchurch over the weekend on a route that took teams down the Waimakariri river and trails to the lagoon and beach area.

Race Director Nathan Fa’avae explained “this years course was themed around the coast and the beach. The race started 30-kilometres from the ocean and teams started with a 10km rafting stage. Then they traveled on bikes to the Brooklands area where they ran, kayaked and explored Bottle Lake Forest, Spencer Park and the Waimakariri River mouth. There was also a high ropes challenge for the long course teams”.

The event had three start waves from McLeans Island between 6:00am and midday. The first challenge was a 2km run to the rafts. Teams then bordered the rafts for a 10km river paddle to Bailes Island Picnic Area. The river was flowing high after recent rain in the Alps making a fast trip down the braided river.

The long course teams in the nine hour event then ran 7km through the Issac Conservation and Wildlife Area to the Groynes where they had a 3km orienteering stage through the gardens.

It was then onto mountain bikes for an 18km ride to the Lower Styx River via Chaneys Plantation where they had some technical mountain bike navigation. Once at the river teams switched to kayaks for a 6km paddle down the river to the Brooklands Lagoon and Waimakariri river mouth.


From the end of the sandpit the teams hiked 5km along the sand dune tracks and beach to reach Seafield Park. Then they entered Adrenalin Forest for a series of high ropes challenges.


Once back on the ground they had two more stages to complete, 16km of mountain biking in Bottle Lake forest and finally a 7km orienteering stage in Spencer Park. The total length of the course was 72km spread over 9-stages.


Departing the first transition area a number of teams were close together. These included open teams Team Beefit (Sara O’neill, Belinda Mccone, Elise Johns), Last Minute Ladies (Katie Smith, Katie Symons, Aleisha Pile) and Just For Girls )Davis Sundbye, Jessie Fa’avae, Kyla Rayward). Close to them was veteran team Just For Girls Adventure (Sara Prince, Sia Svendsen, Jo Williams).  


For most of the morning these teams were close together and often changing positions but by the  midway point, Last Minute Ladies and Beefit were leading. The final two stages involved technical navigation which favoured the veteran team Just For Girls Adventure who moved into second place overall. However, they couldn’t quite close the gap to the Last Minute Ladies who crossed the line in first place, in a time of 8-hours and 55-minutes.

They said on the finish line “Glad we came in under 9-hours, that was satisfying” When asked what their secret was they said “we kept moving, took our time and made sure we were going steadily, we got the navigation right”

The next open team was Beefit, taking third overall and second open team, just 5-minutes back. The teenage girl team Just For Girls from Motueka High School was third open team in their first attempt at the nine hour. Second Veteran team was Wallace And The Grommets (Julie Wallace, Lucy Rayner, Claire Gray), third veteran team Mad MacKenzie Mums (Kim Jordan, Karen Clarke, Fiona Cuttler).

Christchurch based Super Veteran team Adventure Before Dementia (Jenni Blyleven, Wendy Riach, Amanda Smith) won their category in 11-hours and 1-minute, placing an impressive 9th overall. Second Super Veteran team was another local team Granny Franchise (Emma de Lacey, Josie Boland, Viv Prince), Gin’ll Fix It (Justine Schroder, Emma Bradley, Karen Gray) were third.


There were 55-teams in the nine hour race.

238-teams lined up for the intermediate level six hour event. The 62km course contained 5-stages. They enjoyed the same rafting stage and then transitioned to a 22km mountain bike ride that took them through Chaneys Forest and along the Waimakariri stop bank to Brooklands. Stage three was a 7km hike along the Brooklands Lagoon walkway and then out on the Waimakariri walkway and the beach. After a testing few kilometres on the sand the teams enjoyed the 16km bike stage in Bottle Lake, then onto the final 7km orienteering stage to Spencer Park and the finish.

The fastest team in the six hour event was Better Late Than Pregnant (Charlotte Steele, Hannah Goslin, Adele Macgregor) in 6-hours and 3-minutes. Just a few minutes back was second place, the Hoon Hay Hooligans (Kate Cambie, Lisa Owen, Kate Purdie). Team Southern Traverse (Anna Murray, Gwylfa Moore, Julia Crossman) was third open team.

First Veteran team was The Flipped Lids (Sue Pereira, Christina Freeman, Sarah Wright), who crossed the line in 6-hours and 44-minutes, which placed them third overall in the six hour race.

Crazy Mad Fast (Kate Anderson, Sheryl Fraser, Kate Rattray) was the clear winner in the Super Veteran category, with In On Time (Shirley Thomas, Judith Summerville, Lisa Bird) narrowly taking second place from Slow And Steady (Pip Miller, Jo Clatworthy, Erin Eyles). Wining the Junior category with a big margin was Queenstown school girls Columbian Boot Weasels (Zara Mackley, Neve Bates, Phoebe Cavanagh). Second place was Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Zoe Bennetts, Jessica MacDonald, Hannah Battrick), third place was B*tches W Stitches (Katherine Rutter, Danielle Rutter, Georgia Rutter).

The three hour race was in targeted at beginners, completed the rafting stage then onto a 14km mountain bike stage to Brooklands, follows by stage three a 4km run to Spencerville via the Brooklands Lagoon, then the final 2km orienteering stage, a total distance of 30km.

First place was Chicks & Picks (Stefanie Parks, Ness Harford, Sally Davies) in 3-hours and 33-minutes, with Koha Crew in second (Tiana Placid, Kayla Placid, Alyssa Connor), team Glenstar taking third (Lauren Rob, Liv Medoza, Laura Glen).

In the three hour school category the winners were Motueka High School team Better Sisters (Yaz Harrhy, Tide Faavae, Nika Rayward), just four minutes ahead of second place Gutsy Girls (Zara Coleman, Izzy Sharp, Emma Wood) . Third was Straight Off The Couch (Ella Hamilton, Sophie Mcmillan - Sinclair, Mia Hunt).

First veteran team was just over 4-hours, 3 Blind Mice (Chelsea Smylie, Sharee Connor, Vicki Fowke). Second was Tutuing Along (Vicky Rowe, Julie Groen, Rae Stewart), two minutes back was Flatten The Curve (Carla Phillips, Kerry Wells, Kate Downer).

Gritty3some (Suzanne Meager, Kirstie Meager, Karina Bennett) won the three hour super veteran category in 4-hours and 44-minutes. Second was EYECU (Carolyn Rickard, Rebecca Stack, Marie Taylor). Third place went to Too Hot To Handle (Michele Wilkins, Penny Monteath, Catherine Collings).


The organisers would like to thank Christchurch City Council, Issac Conservation & Wildlife Trust and Ecan for their support, plus all the other people who have worked hard to make the event possible.

The 2021 Spring Challenge will be held in Greymouth in October, entries for the event open on October 1st 2020.


Christchurch City Council, Ems Power Cookies, Wicked Rogaines, Torpedo7, Sea To Summit, PURE, CamelBak, Merrell, Juliana, CSdesignz, Starborough, Absolute Wilderness, Tineli, Buff,