Team Bivouac Inov-8 surpassed their expectations in 2013 with a 2nd place at XPD, a huge result at the World Championships at Costa Rica and were totally ready to attack the 2014 season in style. Here they recount their third Godzone Adventure (part 2 of 3) going into it with a new team mate and in their best ever form.
However, in the world of adventure racing, it’s never that simple… especially in your own back yard. Words by Team Member Mark Thrupp.
Stage 4 – Trek – George Stream – Tapuae-O-Uenuku – Hodder River – Mount Gladstone Station
Up off the Clarence River walking towards George Stream in the dark at a faster pace than the new team member was used to. After a quick pep talk, some adjustments to the equipment and a short wrong turn, we were off up the river heading towards the George saddle. Some boulder hopping was required but all in all quite a nice steady even gradient until we came to the turn-off up a side creek. We were told in the race briefing to follow the markers up a side creek and sidle around the hill edge to the saddle and then drop over the other side.
The markers were quite well hidden in the dark but we managed to find them with our Glowworm lights. We managed our way over the saddle with a bit of skin missing on one of the team members’ bum and a hole in the new bivouac shorts, but still in good spirits. Next stop Jam Hut; a quick 15 minute sleep for the night while some preventative blister work was being undertaken and then off towards the Clarence River. We arrived at the Clarence River in the dark and rafted across due to the high river levels. We made our way up Tapuae-O-Uenuku in the dark with the sun rising as we reached about ¼ of the way up the hill. Not much happened up this hill except a slow hard grind up a few shingle screes, a bit of discussion between the merits of normal height teams (e.g. us) and teams with extraordinary long legs and how this benefits hill climbing.
Eventually we reached the top of the pass beside Tapuae-O-Uenuku and were greeted by a friendly volunteer for a quick chat and then off into the Hodder River to try and find the next check point before dark. Unfortunately we got a little stuck trying to get out of the river and into the top of Mount Gladstone Station trying to find CP 9 in the dark. After fluffing around for a few hours we ended up grabbing a 2 hour sleep as we were all starting to feel fatigued, with myself falling asleep under a tree in the rain and waking up shivering.
Refreshed by the sleep we found our way quickly and nailed CP 9. Then we were up to the tops to be greeted by a beautiful sunrise and some wild goats and pigs trotting around. Down into the station and out to transition!
Stage 5 – MTB – Mount Gladstone – Molesworth – Hamner Springs – Glynn Wye Station
Once in transition we were surprised to hear we were in 9th place. It had been a slow leg with a few mistakes and we thought we would have lost more places. We managed to get some good lasagne into us at the start of this leg which was supplied by the friendly officials. Once we were well fed we started the MTB into the heat of the day, finally out of the fog ready for some hill climbs and rolling country.
We were kept very well hydrated thanks to the numerous fords we crossed. The team was functioning pretty well at this point with the odd hill pushed up to stretch the back and we managed to settle into a good rhythm on the bike. Navigation was easy on this stage as it followed the road the whole way with a good view of the transmission lines and hills in the background making for some good scenery. We ended up going through Hamner Springs just on dark and stopped for a quick food refresher, then up towards the Lewis Pass and into transition.
Stage 6 – Trek – Glynn Wye Station – Hurunui River
We started this stage in the dark with high hopes of getting through the trek without issue and then finish strong to claim a good position. We immediately headed up the farm access road and into the top of the farm. Unfortunately, we ended up following a newly cut track and went off course.
We carried on, trying to match the surrounding topography to the map but, in a tired daze, we slowly got more and more disorientated and off course. We eventually realised we should have a sleep for a few hours as the fatigue levels amongst the team wasn’t doing us any favours. Once we woke at approximately 4am we decided to drop into the adjacent creek and navigate our way up the creek.
After getting into the creek we realised we had no idea where we were on the map and decided to head back downstream to clearly establish our position. Eventually we ended up back at the previous transition, a little worse for wear and very discouraged after walking around all night and ending up back at transition! We had dropped back to 19th place and hopes of a good position were fading fast. This was definitely the low point of the race but we decided to regroup and soldier on. We left the transition (again!), headed back up the farm track we had previously been on, and realised where we went wrong and continued on the course as previously planned…
We ground our way up Mt Skiddaw in the hot sun. Then quickly broke left on the ridge despite what the other teams were doing and dropped down to the Glenrae River via a ridge. We quickly made our way downriver aiming to get a decent start up a 1327m peak and find a route down before the sun set. The way up was tricky with navigation through some big bluffs and a few leaps of faith. We made it to the top just as the sun was dipping below the mountains and quickly tried to find a route down. But we reached a point where we were effectively bluffed out and unable to continue with 50m bluffs either side of us.
We couldn’t see enough to find a safe route down or along the ridge we were on. After an hour or so of searching, we realised we would have to camp for the night. We had a feed and a decent 6hr sleep.
Although we were gutted to waste another night it was an amazing experience being high up on a rocky ridge, seeing the sunset and camping out. We were having a great adventure, but the race side of things was going terribly! Once in the daylight we saw where we were and were glad we didn’t continue. There was a bit of humour to raise team spirits with me standing on the high point making silhouettes with my walking pole. We finally found a route down the hill and were off the next transition.