DAY 7: THE FINISH LINE
The team were in high spirits as they passed the finish line on their bikes just after 11pm tonight, completing the full course of GODZone Chapter 9 in Rotorua. They should be massively proud of themselves for smashing their goal, with all four of them making it to the finish. What an accomplishment, team!
DAY 7: ONE MORE STAGE
The support crew are waiting at transition 11 right now as the team has around half an hour left on the water. The last stage will see them biking to the finish line, from Ohakuri Reserve to Waipa Hub, Redwoods. This last leg of the race is going to take the team around 2-4 hours to complete, as they spend 38km cycling through the Redwoods.
I bet they are looking forward to that pie and beer and the overall accomplishment when we see them at the finish line later tonight.
DAY 7: THE FINAL STAGES
It was 1:30 pm when the team finished kayaking before continuing onto the bike stage. According to the tracker, they had the fastest kayak split time. At the rate the team is going, they are smashing it out of the park and are just moments away from getting off their bikes and making it safely to transition 10. Jeremy even took some time out to have a chat with the GODZone media team at this transition.
The second to last stage will have them packrafting along Lake Ohakuri for 13km. This stage requires a good deal of navigation as there are lots of hidden checkpoints that can be challenging at night. This section is estimated to take around 3-5 hours.
They’re getting that much closer to the finish line!
DAY 7: LAKE TAUPO
The team arrived at transition 7 just before 11 pm last night, just a couple of hours after their estimated arrival time. The weather reports from the top of the ranges indicated a lot of wind, rain and cold temperatures. The team came in looking very wet and tired. They had a couple of hours of sleep at this transition before heading off on their bikes at 4:30 am. This biking stage was a short 1-2 hour stint, mainly to give the support crew time to get to the next transition at Waiotaka Reserve.
They had a quick change and some food at transition 8 before heading off in their kayaks at 7 am, following the western shoreline of Lake Taupo. The estimated time for this stage of the race is 7-10 hours. The GOFENCE® Marlborough team is already a quarter of the way through and we hope to see them reach transition 9 by 2-3 pm today, if all goes smoothly.
DAY 6: NOT LONG NOW
The support team is on their way to Turangi now as they get ready to wait for the team at the next transition. Kieran’s brother and his team, Victory Vets, should be at transition 7 by now. It is estimated that the GOFENCE® Marlborough team is only 4-5 hours behind them. They are hoping to see the team reach transition 7 around 8 pm-9 pm tonight. The next stage is a short bike ride along the Tongariro River Trail before they reach the next transition and the next stage, which will be kayaking across New Zealand’s lake: Lake Taupo.
DAY 6: STAY STRONG
The team are still on track as they continue through the seventh stage of the race. They managed to stop last night and get a couple hours of sleep, which was obviously just what they needed to stay strong progress through this tough trek. Once they reach transition 7, it is said that their elevation gains would equate to climbing Mt Taranaki twice.
DAY 5: THE WAITING GAME
As the waiting game continues, we are constantly keeping an eye on the tracker in anticipation to see whether there are any movements from the team. Meanwhile, the support crew is on bike cleaning duties, in preparation for the team’s 27km bike ride in the next round. It’s still a fair way off though, but we will continue to update you when we have any more news. We have no doubt it’s a tough journey for the team right now, but we know that they have what it takes to make it through this tough stage of the race.
DAY 5: GODZONE’S ICONIC STAGE
The GOFENCE® Marlborough team made it to transition 6 last night, where the GODZone officials would have greeted them and provided them with fuel for their bodies. They would have dropped their packrafts off at this site and made a plan of attack to combat the 88km gruelling hike ahead of them. Stage 7 consists of around 6000m of vertical ascent, where they will be battling thick terrain while also seeing some beautiful views of the North Island – weather permitting. This is GODZone’s iconic stage, and if the team makes it through this round – they should be exceptionally proud of themselves.
The team is tracking well through this stage and it is expected to be around two days before the support crew will see them again at transition 7, with sore feet and tired bodies.
This is a shot of the GODZone tracker and the GOFENCE® Marlborough team is number 14
DAY 4: INTO THE KAWEKAS
Late into day four and while we can’t track the morale of our team, we can see the progress they are making towards transition 6. The team set off into the depths of the Kaweka forest this morning in the attempt to get to the river and into their pack rafts as soon as possible in order to make the transition before dark. With a compulsory dark zone approaching, meaning the team would be forced to stay off the water, they must work hard to get through to the transition before 20:00. The potential gain would mean they could get a jump on the teams still on the water.
As for our support team, it’s possible they have had a more eventful day than the competitors. After operating through the night to get the GOFENCE® team away to the best start, our support team pointed the car north, tracking back to Taupo. Somewhere along the road, a faint smell of burnt rubber made its way through the car, to be accompanied by the sight of smoke from the wheel on the trailer. After a couple hours marooned on the side of the road, Tim and Danielle found themselves at the local Taupo mechanic with a wheel missing on the trailer. After reassurance that the trailer could be fixed by the next required transition, Tim and Danielle headed for the hotel to catch some well-earned rest.
The team will be assisted by the GODZone officials at transition 6, before they head west, through the Kaimanawas on foot for over 80km. These two stages are said to be the ‘make or break’ stages in the race and a good performance could put them well on their way to achieving their goal of completing full course. Apart from Glenn, who looks “bruised and battered after a couple clumsy falls” (Danielle’s words!), the team is in high spirits and tackling the challenge head on.
DAY 4: ON FOOT
The team are tracking really well and have broken the back of the mammoth distance they have set out to conquer. Setting a challenging task for their support team, the GOFENCE® Marlborough team made their way on bikes to transition 5 where no service was available. After pulling into the transition area at around 1am, the support team had a hot meal prepped and our competitors were able to grab a few hours sleep before kicking back into gear at 5am.
They will now embark on a considerable session on foot into the heart of the Kaweka Forest to transition 6 and the southernmost point of the course. From here they will make their way, again by foot, to the western edge of the Kaimanawa Forest where they will meet transition 7 and their bikes to track back towards Turangi and Lake Taupo.
DAY 3: ROGAINE
The GOFENCE® Marlborough team is making an excellent comeback in the rogaine round, currently placing 17th overall. They are over halfway through their 21km trek to Waituheomana Stream, which is where their next transition will be. Again, the support crew are unable to access this point but are looking forward to seeing them after the next round of mountain biking.
Photo credit: GODZone
DAY 3: FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
After pedalling overnight, the team has now made it to the third transition, one of the areas that the support crew is unable to attend. After missing a turn off in the last section, the team have bounced back and are ready for the next stage, which will take them through Whirinaki State Forest. This is where they will do a trek and rogaine course – a first for GODZone. Teams have 11 controls to collect from different checkpoints; 2 of them are compulsory and out of the other 9, there are 7 to collect and 2 that they are able to miss. This is ultimately the team’s decision which ones they will collect – depending on the route they wish to take. This stage is anyone’s game and good navigational experience will be of great importance during this rogaine course. The team has a few high climbs ahead of them, but we’re rooting for them – especially in this leg of the race.
Photo credit: GODZone
DAY 2: 134 KM OF PEDALLING
After four hours of sleep and some good food, the team was ready to go again at 8 am. Seeing as they were in the first wave, they had to wait a full six hours at that transition area. At 10:10 am, they were able to commence again on bike. Keeping a good pace, the team headed roadside towards the Moerangi Track and into the Whirinaki Forest. Currently coming in 11th place, this bike track looks like a good one, with 134 km of pedalling. The support crew is unable to meet the team until the fifth transition due to safety precautions. It is estimated that it’ll be 21-36 hours before they’ll see them again. Until then, the GODZone crew will be looking after all of the teams at the next two transitions.
Photo credit: GODZone
DAY 2: NO REST FOR THE WICKED
While we were tucked up in our beds last night, the GOFENCE® Marlborough team were paddling and hiking their way through the second leg of the race. The team is currently in 10th place and is waiting at transition two. The support crew set up their tents last night and waited for the team to get in, which was around 4 am this morning. They showed up in good spirits and several beestings. After taking some antihistamines and applying powder to their feet, they got in a four-hour sleep. After getting some real food in their bellies, they are ready for the third stage: mountain biking.
DAY 1: AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
The team is doing incredible, after completing their first transition – biking. Way ahead of schedule, the team waited for around 20 minutes for their support crew before they were able to move onto the next leg of the race. They are currently packrafting across the lakes before storing their packrafts away in their backpacks to travel on foot. This second stage is estimated to last around 18-22 hours. The support crew will then meet them tomorrow morning, where they will have a mandatory six hour rest period before continuing.
Photo credit: GODZone
DAY 1: THE RACE HAS BEGUN
After the team got their 23 maps last night, they stayed up late planning their route, saying that this is the biggest GODZone event they have seen. The whole course is around 700km if you follow the whole trail correctly, but it’ll probably end up taking longer in some parts. The nerves were high this morning as they were dropped off at the start line. The teams were put in the first wave, at random, and are currently on their bikes going through the park. They will spend 3.5-4 hours biking before their next transition, which will be packrafting and trekking.
WELCOME & COMPETITOR BRIEFINGS
It’s an overcast day in Rotorua as the team is currently preparing their bikes, packrafts and extra gear for the big race tomorrow. Adventure racing is usually a social sport, but due to COVID-19, restrictions will be put in place for the teams, volunteers and support crew. Teams had an online race briefing along with gear checks this morning, and are set to get their maps at 2:30 pm. This afternoon, they can start planning their route, maintaining a 2m safe distance from other teams. During the race, teams are advised to stay within 20m of their teammates for navigational purposes so they don’t get lost. There are no surprises yet, but we know the team’s nerves will be picking up for the big day tomorrow.
GODZone Rotorua 2021
GODZone is back for its ninth chapter of New Zealand’s largest multi-day adventure race from 4 – 13 March 2021. The first time being hosted in the North Island, this 8 and a half-day course will be located in Rotorua where teams will navigate their way through stunning landscapes while trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, canoeing, and rafting.
Last year the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 and even though things may look a little bit different for GODZone this year with level 2 lockdown restrictions, the organisers have put rules in place to adhere to Government guidelines.
In 2018, the GOFENCE® Marlborough team consisted of Glenn Blackmore, Kieran Hickman, Mandy MacFarlane, and Andrew Jones. All four didn’t end up making it to the finish line as Andrew fell sick and had to pull out. This year, Andrew has been replaced by Jeremy McKenzie, who will be participating with the team in Rotorua.
We caught up with the GOFENCE® Marlborough team to see how they were feeling in the lead-up to the event. The training, the excitement, the nerves… they had it all.
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with the team’s progress, click here
Wishing them the best of luck!
GOFENCE® Marlborough team participants
Glenn is a fencing contractor based in Marlborough and has been fencing in the region for 14 years. He moved back to New Zealand in 2007 with his wife after spending seven years in the United States of America. Glenn works on a range of different fencing projects; rural, residential, lifestyle and vineyard development. He manages five-six employees, however over the vineyard season, it can increase to around 12 staff members. Glenn is a family man, who loves outdoor activities with his wife and two children. Having previously competed in the Fiordland and Canterbury races, this will be his third GODZone event
Glenn mentioned that as a fencer being outdoors, doing physical work, and being climatised to all different weather conditions helps to prepare him for the GODZone race. When it comes to training, Glenn likes to compete in other events with members of the GOFENCE® Marlborough team such as the Marokopa adventure race.
Glenn likes moments of everything throughout the GODZone race but he enjoys the hiking aspect as he used to run a lot when he was younger.
The goal for him at GODZone this year is to enjoy the race and for their team to finish the full course in the allocated time given. Seeing as this race is longer than the Canterbury event, the key thing he’s learnt from previous GODZone races is to listen to your body and communicating well as a team.
Mandy is a vineyard owner in Riverlands, growing grapes for Sauvignon Blanc in the largest wine region of New Zealand. Mandy has been working in the industry for around 28 years and has been living in the Marlborough region for 23 of them, with her partner and three children. Mandy feels unbelievably lucky to be living somewhere where steep hills and beautiful rivers are right at your doorstep. Doing a lot of biking and kayaking in her spare time, Mandy likes to keep active. She just recently participated in the Coast to Coast event where she teamed up with a couple of other local women for the two-day event, where they were placed second in their division.
This will be her second GODZone event as she competed in the last race in Canterbury with the GOFENCE® Marlborough team. In the last GODZone, Mandy learnt a lot, saying that the sleep deprivation isn’t going to worry her as much this time. All you need to do is to keep one foot in front of the other and look after your body, keeping yourself fuelled up along the way.
Mandy says that this GODzone event in Rotorua is going to be hard, but she has a good team behind her and enjoys the adventure. The ultimate goal for her and the team is to get the four of them across the finish line and to enjoy the adventure along the way.
Kieran is a sheep, beef, and cropping farmer based in Ward, working across 500 hectares of family land. The property has been in Kieran’s family for over 100 years, making them fourth-generation owners. Living there with his wife and three children, he hopes to be able to pass it down to his kids one day. He also has two younger brothers that live with him on the farm who can do a few bits and pieces around the property when Kieran needs it.
Along with Glenn, this will be Kieran’s third GODZone. He’ll be leading the navigation for the Rotorua event and will be aware of other team members and their needs, making sure that they all look after one another. Kieran enjoys the comradery of it, having grown up playing a lot of team sports. He mentioned that you’re always learning with adventure racing. But the most important things are listening to the body – whether you need sleep or better nutrition and checking in on your team members.
The best part about the race for Kieran is the missions before the event. Whether it’s going to stay in huts or being near lakes – you get to see some pretty amazing sights around New Zealand.
It’s an incredible race and Kieran is looking forward to taking a wee break from farm life. Having that team environment, beautiful scenery, and having fun along the way, will get him in a good headspace.
Jeremy is the chief winemaker at Isabel Estate in Hawkesbury and manager of Endeavor Group New Zealand. Jeremy has been in Marlborough for 20 years, with the last seven working at Isabel Estate. Jeremy, his wife, and three kids live active lives. Two of his children race at an elite level when it comes to biking, athletics, and triathlons, with their youngest starting to enjoy sports.
Jeremy said that hunting for 30 years, being amongst all sorts of terrain, and carrying animals out of the bush helps with adventure racing. Not to mention all of the active events that he participates in including previous GODZone races and Ironman. Jeremy also loves to go mountain biking, fishing and diving when he can find the time.
Jeremy mentioned that every GODZone is different and that he is used to the south, with the big mountains, hills, and rivers. However, he’s looking forward to the terrain in Rotorua as he's spent some time mountain biking there.
Jeremy hopes to assist his team when they need rest – especially in the mountain biking stints. Knowing the game pretty well from his countless experiences, he said nutrition and trying to keep everyone motivated is key. Again, finishing the whole course will be the greatest achievement for the team.
THE ADVENTURE THAT KEEPS ON GOING
GODZone has just had its ninth edition expedition race in Rotorua a couple of months ago. We are proud of the GOFENCE® Marlborough team for completing the full course, which was their collective goal. They were ranked 14th overall, accomplishing GODZone Chapter 9 in seven days.
Starting in Milford in 2012, each year GODZone has been hosted in different locations around New Zealand. Rotorua is the first time it has been hosted in the North Island. GODZone adventure race has covered many picturesque locations including Mt Cook, Kaikoura, Wanaka, Tasman, Queenstown, Fiordland and Canterbury. GODZone Chapter 9 in Rotorua was meant to be hosted in 2020, but due to COVID-19, it got postponed. This year looked a little bit different than other GODZone races as the organisers, participants and support teams had to adhere to Government Level 2 guidelines.
The course consisted of 12 stages, comprising of mountain biking, packrafting, trekking, and kayaking. Starting at Whakarewarewa Forest and finishing at Waipa Hub in the Redwoods, the track covered approximately 666km.
We managed to check in and get updates from Glenn’s wife Danielle, who was part of their support team. The other members of the support team included Mandy’s husband Tim, Glenn and Danielle’s two children, and Jeremy’s son. It was quite a family affair. Danielle said that the best thing about being part of the support team was seeing them come into each transition after a huge stage and feeling so proud of them for what they had achieved. It was a very rewarding experience.
When we met the team at the finish line, they seemed to be in pretty good spirits, hugging and enjoying conversations with family and friends, with a complimentary pie and beer in hand. They all mentioned that they couldn’t wait to have a shower, some hot chips, and a few more beers. Rest was also on the cards, of course. What they accomplished was something spectacular, as a lot of the teams had to drop out or retire due to injury or exhaustion.
Some of the highlights for the GOFENCE® Marlborough team were the packrafting, the beautiful surroundings that they got to take in, as well as completing the full race in a satisfactory time. Mandy told us that they got to see some amazing countryside and extraordinary landscapes that they don’t have back home in Marlborough.
The team endured extreme weather conditions, especially at the top of the Kaimanawa Ranges, where they had to battle snow with very little visibility. The Rogaine/Trek was another challenging part of the course - and a first for GODZone - where teams had 11 controls to collect from different checkpoints through Whirinaki State Forest.
Overall, it was a very tough race but Kieran mentioned that their focus was on team strategy and making sure that they were looking after each other and maintaining a good headspace. They got around three hours of sleep each night, and their team morale was evident throughout the whole race. The team said that Jeremy’s experience in adventure racing and strategy helped them through. Each of them showed strength and endurance in different ways and it was a solid team effort.
“Thanks very much to Goldpine. I think it’s awesome to be backing a team of guys from a rural area and obviously, Glenn has got a fencing business and Kieran’s a farmer and [Goldpine] is supporting adventure,” Jeremy said. “You can see the attitude with the guys, it really comes back to a working relationship with Goldpine.”
When we asked Glenn how he felt at the end of the race, he was relieved. “It was an epic adventure. My body is really beaten up but you look back and it was a really good time.”
Watch the GOFENCE® Marlborough team as they share a few brief comments after reaching the finish line at GODZone Chapter 9 2021.