Starts in about 9+ hours...3pm NZ time. First look at race details arrives by email to teams in 20 mins...6am NZ time. Maps at 8am in NZ, iirc.
First time in a few years that international racers have been able to join the field and there are a few really good teams who've made the trip: East Wind, Estonia, ThoughtSports to name a few. Also, one US entry to note in the Pursuit (barely easier) class: Able Abels.
Who's going to follow this one?
Correction: registration & safety checks at 8am; Maps at 11:30am.
Tucked away in the day one press release is this news.
"Avaya’s Nathan Fa'avae ... announced at today’s registration that GODZONE Chapter 11 will be his last expedition race."
At age 50 and with nothing left to win its perhaps not a surprise and he probably means it this time!
Will Avaya win Godzone one last time?
Will the team carry on without their charismatic captain?
Will they bring in a kiwi young gun to replace Nathan and go even quicker? There's a scary thought!
Lots of great coverage as always - Facebook, tracking, website news.https://godzoneadventure.com/gz-life/latest-news/
Godzones were a lot more fun to watch when Nathan, Chris and Stu were on opposing teams...
Hot Take- Maybe Nathan's retirement will be good for the sport?
Here was my comment on the Facebook post:
So tough to choose a reaction to this post. I'm happy for him. Well done, Nathan - congratulations for crushing the sport all these years and inspiring us all to do better! You've absolutely earned your retirement.
I'm kind of sad though. It was exciting to watch a 50-year-old cruise to a World Championship win last year and I love watching the way this team works together. I'm sure Nathan could keep competing at a high level for quite a while yet but there's something to be said for going out on top, presumably while he's still having fun, leaving himself lots of time for different adventures with family, friends and work. He didn't say he's finished with competing though - just expedition races. And it shouldn't be long until one of his kids wants to do an expedition race, so...
You may be right, JayXC. More teams will feel like they have a chance to win big races now. Fans will be less certain of who is going to win. On the other hand, Avaya/Seagate has boosted the level of competition by showing other top 10 teams that there's still room to improve. I remain happy/sad about this news. Of course, he's changed his mind before... :)
Aside from the obvious 1st place "battle", there is a very stout struggle for the next four podium positions. Teams are jostling back and forth quite a bit still and the front group is not entirely NZ teams, which I find reassuring for some reason. Thought Sports (Australia) is in a tight battle for 2nd with Tiki Tour and Estonian ACE (from, you guessed it, Estonia) is in the mix with several teams contending for 4th through ~8th (stalled trackers = ??) at TA3, the start of the second paddle. Loads of other teams are getting busy in the daylight coming down off the trek. The early sprint leaders FearYouth have dropped off the lead pace, but that isn't much of a surprise; the redeeming bit is that they haven't blown up, just slowed up...still in the top 10 currently.
I haven't looked at the Pursuit contest as much, but will note that there is a Swedish team in the top 5 mix and a US team not far out of that mix.
Some insider info (including beta on Team 24) out of NZ's FearYouth Squad FB page:
FY have checked into TA3 at hope arm in 7th position, but I reckon they're actually sitting in 8th unless No Idea actually did find a nice sunny spot above the Garnock Burn to wile away the morning hours...(not likely!). Hot on the team's heels is team Matai Fiordland, comprised of Glen Mitchell (Fynn's dad!) and Josh Pearson, a 19 year old member of the FEAR youth squad who will be taking Josiah's place in the Adventure Racing World Champs later this year in South Africa (October). Rounding out team Matai are Crystal Brindle (one of Fiordland's fastest runner who's taken to Adventure racing over the last few years and is amazing at it, and Sky Lovill, an ex-american who's younger days were spent as an internationally ranked tennis player!). So although No Idea and the other 6 teams up the front might be serving as the carrot, Matai is right there at their heels, serving as the stick! Good luck to both!
(FY is team 9), Matai/Fiordland is team 24)
Of the current top 10 teams (all Pure's which are ahead of the fastest Pursuit team), there is only one team that has fewer than 3 men (blokes in NZ lingo): RAB Wahine. In fact, they have flipped the traditional split and have 3 females and 1 bloke. They are currently running in 6th, 7th, or 8th place on the second bike leg and have been jockeying about for the last several hours with Estonian ACE, which recently held the top ranking in the ARWS circuit: https://arworldseries.com/estonian-ace-adventure-l...
Not only is this what the sport needs (more female representation), it's friggin' awesome to see! GO!
Looks like the first two teams in the Pursuit race entered the wrong event. They're an entire stage ahead of 3rd place and at TA 5A hanging with Avaya which is CP 19 on the Pure course. The next portion of the course is the same and it will be interesting to see if the Pursuit teams try to stay close to Avaya on it.
Of note is the only US team, Able Abels, has Jason Magness of Bend Racing as their Captain/Navigator this year. They were running closer to the chase pack but it looks like they are taking a long sleep at t3 as they have been there about 8 hours now.
Avaya continues to amaze, stopping for around 4 hours last night and still way out in front.
Interesting development if true and not just a tracker glitch but it looks like Thought Sports has elected to continue on with packrafts past CP19 whereas Avaya elected to leave them there and finish the leg on foot. No sleep at CP19 for Thought. Tough to compete against Avaya in no sleep for long.
Thought slept at CP16 last night along with Tiki at the same time, roughly, that Avaya was sleeping at CP19. I haven't examined how long each team spent at these sleepy hut locations, but have a sense that Avaya slept the longest and left CP19 before anyone else arrived by at least 1 hour.
JayXC: I don't think that Thought kept their packrafts. Their track from CP19 has only one ping near the lake and it's on the shore. If this lake is like many others in the Fiordlands right now (based on photos I've been seeing), it is probably a touch lower than usual after the dry spell they've had there this late Summer. So, I expect the shoreline is traversable rather quickly on foot for a considerable distance, and this shore does not appear to have any areas where there's a steep forested slope of cliff.
EDIT: I would not say the same for Rab Wahine and Nutrient Rescue, who both pinged in the lake after leaving CP19. I bet they opted to carry their rafts
Not sure exactly where Tiki Tour is at the moment (tracker hasn't pinged in quite a while), but they had been behind Thought. Just after CP20, where Thought Sports is now, is where Avaya was almost exactly 3 hours ago. So, assuming equal sleep times last night (not a certainty), the lead is just that...3 hours.
Guessing it’s a leaderboard error, Avaya in 13th?
For sure, W4J. I believe the AI is confusing the teams that are moving South (paddling or hoofing it) after CP20 with the teams paddling North toward CPs 17&18.
Some intriguing cat-n-mouse in the vicinity of TA6 overnight:
Avaya came in at about midnight and slept for hours. While they were sleeping, No Idea rushed in and left without sleeping. About 30 minutes later Avaya woke and rolled out, now in second place spatially, but not in terms of banked resources. About an hour out, No Idea probably burned off their adrenaline and seems to have stopped for a pre-dawn sleep prior to starting the first significant climb on this leg. While they were stopped, Avaya zipped by and resumed their first position. Presently (6am local time), No Idea is moving again and is at the spot where Avaya was shortly after 3:30am. I guess we can call the current lead roughly 2.5 hours, and perhaps an hour or two more sleep, but I don't really know how much sleep each team has logged so far in the race.
Time for all you dotwatchers to get watching...this one is getting more interesting.
Darkzone coming up on the long leg 10 downriver paddle...at least that's what I remember from a few weeks (!?) ago when this race was starting. I haven't analyzed the details, but it seems that, as usual, Avaya is perfectly placed to the hit the water (after a 'short' bike at the end of the current trek) late-morning and complete the paddle before the darkzone closes the river tonight. ~Noon arrival seems adequate for decent paddling teams. It'll be tight for No Idea, and it is impossible for all the other lead pack teams to get off the water before being darkzoned. This is all based on really casual evaluation. If someone wants to get a bit more analytical, by all means, correct my estimations.
Oh, and we shouldn't forget to account for the impact of flood and ebb tides on travel speeds in the lower portion of the river.
Well... It's not going to surprise anyone to hear that it is now clear Avaya has this one wrapped up unless the wheels come off somehow. Everyone behind them will be caught in the darkzone on the river tonight or won't even make it to the river before the darkzone lifts tomorrow morning. Avaya could sleep for several hours anywhere after they finish the paddle and then complete the last two legs of the race before the darkzone lifts. We say it every year, but they are truly unbelievable.
Thanks, Conman. I've only been able to take quick looks at the tracker this weekend so I appreciate your analysis.
If Nathan really is retiring this time, he's going out on top with his longtime teammates in their home expedition race. It doesn't get better than that.
Tracking system has gone offline. From GZ Insta: "We do apologise that the like tracker is not working at the moment. Not meaning to shift the blame, but the issue stems from the UK- end of things, so is unfortunately out of our control. We hope things are back up and running as soon as possible."
Wasn't able to follow closely at all but surprised by my friends the Estonians ending up in 10th. Any ideas what happened? Did they have a disappointing race or are Kiwis just that good? Or is there some massive home-field advantage in NZ?
I think Silver's chat with Adam at the finish line explains it best (starting at ~2:45 here):https://www.facebook.com/aceadventure/videos/61366...
Home field advantage was a big part of it.
Here's more from Silver's FB post:
Estonia's girl Reeda developed torn meniscus on long packraft/trek leg on second day on ridge. She only finished through true grit and enduring nasty pain (painkillers helped little) and instability in knee. Well, we had some other problems too, but so did everyone else. It was a fantastic and beautiful race and hats off to the young teams beating us!
Here's more from Silver's FB post:
We knew there would be much more wild and offtrail trekking compared to most races, but still the toughness of the terrain surprised us. Especially the open areas that by our experience in the world have mostly been much more easy going. Tussock and tough plants up to hips were slow and very difficult traversing and tough on feet with a heavy pack. We had no possibility to train for that, remember, Estonia's highest slope is 35m height difference where we live, and 3h drive you can get to 85m slope. Our shape was ok, but not specific training as we had come from snowy winter. We had superb crew, Nathan Faavae hooked us up with Wayne who had supported them previously and Rains wife Ethel also took on the support job this time and was very thorough and good. But we lost time on stupid things- in first transition our car couldn't get close to cp, so we had to do extra km and lost touch with leaders. That lost 10min resulted in 500m short in packraft dark zone and nasty bush bashing to ta. Everyone else knew there was a path or road to Ta, which was not on map- we pushed through tough bush and lost total 1h in end of packraft for just pure unlucky or lack of experience in GZ. We gained well on trek and packraft up to the point we got to the ridge and Reeda started limping in pain. From there it was just to get to finish line... Godzone is a fantastic race! We were not very happy about the of race organisation off race - changing start time after teams have booked flights and houses, not disclosing finish place (where to book house?), That led for us to no possibility to share time with other racers face to face. I think that was not a good solution. But race wise everything was perfect! Dream realized , Godzone in Fiordland done and dusted!
A very interesting read about the cancelation of Godzone:https://www.thepost.co.nz/a/nz-news/350073245/long...
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