So there is no news in announcing that team Rogue will be heading off to the GODZone Adventure Race in New Zealand shortly. The team flies out Tuesday morning with racing set to start Saturday. We will be racing as team #28 with live tracking available here. Additional online commentary can be found at Breathe Magazine here and Sal may be able to upload some general team updates via the Rogue facebook page here.
As a team, we have a clearly set list of goals which in order are 1) to finish the full course ranked, 2) have fun and 3) race. Given how tough this race can be, the last goal ranks as a distant third. I think any team that manages themselves well and gets through the full course is going to have a satisfying result, and I’d suggest our goals align with pretty much 90% of the field, excluding those elite teams pushing for a podium.
While this will be my third trip to GODZone, it will again be with a new team line up. Danielle and Russ have raced a couple XPDs each before, and Steve has raced GeoQuest, so they are no strangers to adventure racing. Racing in New Zealand though is a whole different ball game. To put it simply, nothing in our local training areas can really replicate the hills (mountains) and rivers of NZ. In saying that, the team have prepared well with a couple of big training sessions together and I’m looking forward to getting over there and enjoying the course. We are also racing in the name of science!
While we will be doing our own thing and not worrying about other teams, as an avid follower of races in the world series, it is interesting to look over the team list and make some predictions. Straight up, I’ll make the call now that it will be very hard for any international team to crack the top 5, and any overseas outfit that makes a top 10 will have done exceedingly well. Indeed, I can’t see a non-Kiwi team winning this race for a long time to come.
Safe bet for the win will be Seagate, and with the addition of Stuart Lynch on their side (current adventure racing world champion and two times runner up at GODZone), they will only be a more formidable unit. The fight for podium places will be fierce though, with a number of Kiwi outfits with strong racers. Team names that jump out as being contenders include Orion Health, Vida de Aventura, Chimpanzee Bar and Kathmandu XT. In fact the above list would make a respectable top 5 prediction. Absolute Wilderness NZ and Bivouac Inov-8 should also make a strong showing. Not being overly intimate with the NZ racing scene, I’m sure there are a number of other top names and teams that I’m missing off this list.
There are also a total of 9 Australian teams racing, along with a smattering of Aussies in a couple of other Kiwi teams. No Team Macpac to defend their podium from last year, so predictions on the Aussies are little more difficult. The Stromlonauts (formerly That’s Cray) came away from XPD in September last year with a fourth place and are heading to the world championships in Ecuador later this year, so they should have a strong race. The BMX Bandits have a long race history and previous GODZone experience in the team and should also go well. They also win the award for most entertaining facebook posts.
Any threat to the Kiwi stranglehold in this race may come from the non-Australian international teams, of which there are three. I don’t know much about Check Point Zero from the USA and Moxie AR from Ireland other than they are well established teams in their own respective countries and guaranteed to come well prepared. A late addition to the team list is Merrell Alpha Pack, ostensibly an American team with a South African, a Brit, a Chilean and a Kiwi. Team captain Graham Bird (typically of Merrell Adventure Addicts) is one of South Africa’s top adventure racers with extensive experience on the AR World Series circuit and multiple podium places and could lead this team to a top result.
Irrespective of the form guide, this is expedition racing and there are many hills, many rivers and many dark hours between the start and finish lines. A lot has to go right for a team to make it to the end of a race and it is not uncommon to see one or two top teams capitulate to the course for any number of reasons. It is also possible to have a dark horse team rise to the top. Regardless, team Rogue are looking forward to seeing you all over in Kaikoura and exploring the New Zealand back country course that lies in waiting.