Just a quick final shout out from team Rogue on the eve of our departure for the Godzone expedition race in NZ. Preparation has gone as well as can be hoped, and I believe we have the fitness, gear, experience and team dynamics to get us to the finish line. For most of the team, this will be their first expedition length race so we will be heading in with just the usual goals of a ranked, full course finish. Although we’ve raced a number of shorter races together, this is a relatively new line up for Rogue, however I’m pretty excited about the level of enthusiasm from everyone for building a strong team.
As for the race itself? All we know at this stage is that we will be navigating and racing for up to 6.5 days over an as yet undisclosed course. Disciplines include trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, mountaineering/ropes and white water canoeing along with another mystery water-based activity (heavy speculation on canyoning given the requirement for a wetsuit). The racing itself starts on Sunday the 10th at an unknown remote location and finishes 513 rugged and, hopefully, beautiful kilometers later in Queenstown.
As an avid follower of expedition racing through the online medium, I have to admit that Godzone will probably be the best race this year to follow as an armchair spectator. The organisation team received widespread praise for the online reporting and GPS tracking at last year’s race. Throw into the mix an assembly of the top adventure racing teams in the world and this will certainly be one race not to miss.
The race up front is sure to be fierce with at least 5 or 6 teams sporting current or former world champions. Odds on favorites would have to be team Seagate – winners of last year’s race and current world champions who are returning with an identical team line up. They will have to be on the top of their game, however, with the pedigree of Harraways Oats Adventure Team sporting the navigational prowess of Aaron Prince, the strength and experience of former world champion Stu Lynch and the multisport powerhouses Dougal Allan and Jess Simson. Team Thule (ostensibly a Swedish team but led by two French racers) are making the trip over to renew their rivalry with team Seagate from the past two world championships. The Kiwis are always going to be tough to beat in their own back yard however, so perhaps they have somewhat wisely recruited work horse Marcel Hagener (former Seagate racer) and Jacob Roberts into the fold.
In addition to these world beating teams, there are a number of other strong New Zealand and international lineups that are definite podium contenders. Swedish AXA-Adidas and South American Brasilia Multisport Team have the experience and strength to do well overseas. Kiwi teams Orion Health (captained by former world champion Wayne Oxenham), PAKn’SAVE, Swordfox (5th in last year’s race) and Whakatane-NZ will also be strong on home soil. Australian hopes will rest squarely on the shoulders of Team Macpac – past XPD winners with a breadth of international experience. They certainly won’t be hurt by the addition of former world champion Brent Edwards, and expect these guys to feature heavily in news from the pointy end. Indeed, in naming a top 10, it would be hard to go past the aforementioned teams, however this is adventure racing and a lot has to go right for a team to stand at the finish line.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that over 40% of racers are international, including 6 Australian based entries. It’s great to see familiar Australian team names such as Midnight Sun, Outer Edge Racing and It’s All Good making the trip over during an XPD year, and we look forward to catching you at the race.
We’ll try to post a few photos and pre-race updates on the team Face Book page during the final lead up to the race from NZ. We are racing as team number 28, so be sure to check in on our GPS tracker during the race. We’ll be doing our best to keep it moving forward and in the right direction.