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Powered by Velvet Wins Fairydown Southern Traverse

Powered by Velvet Wins Fairydown Southern Traverse

Image credit Stan
Van Jaarsveld
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Powered by Velvet at the finish line in Hanmer Springs. From left, Chris Morrissey, Sonya Clark, Rhys Burns, George Christison. Image credit Stan Van Jaarsveld

Press Release
13th April 2008


The Fairydown Southern Traverse at Hanmer Springs has been won by the experienced North Island based Powered by Velvet team, just over two hours ahead of their closest rivals, Icebreaker R & R Sport

As the winning team Powered by Velvet has gained an entry into the prestigious Adventure Racing World Championships in Brazil in August.

The formidable team and includes Coast to Coast guru George Christison, Sonya Clark, Chris Morrissey and Rhys Burns who are all highly proficient and skilled adventure racers.

The team completed the race in 21 hours 44 minutes but was strongly challenged over the 199km course by the Icebreaker R&R Sport team which crossed the finish in 23hours 54 minutes. Icebreaker is made up of Dunedin and Queenstown athletes Matt Woods, Haydn Key, Mark Williams and Sarah Fairmaid who all have a high profile in adventure racing.

A key feature of interest was the sisterly rivalry between Clark and Fairmaid, who are both expert racers in their own right.

“It is always good to race against each other and at times we can even catch up out on the course which we did during the overnight trek,” says Clark.

The Southern Traverse was first held in 1991 and returned this year to a classic format of three days rather than the longer five day event. Nine teams from throughout New Zealand competed.

“We wanted to go back to a shorter race format with an emphasis on navigation, avoid the traditional extreme physical exhaustion for athletes but still provide a night time racing element,” says Race Director Geoff Hunt.

“I think we have achieved that and although we only attracted a small field there was some fantastic competition and the teams were very excited about the terrain.”

He says the course which included 90 kms of mountain biking, four trekking stages totalling 75kms and a 34km paddling stage used some incredible country.

“We had technical mountain biking, orienteering which required careful navigation and route choice combined with magnificent views.”

The course started on Friday (April 11) with a mountain bike ride from Hanmer to Acheron on the Molesworth Road, a mountain trek in the Maukuratawhai area and a short bike road to the finish of the stage via Jacks Pass.

Teams stopped at the end the first stage and began the second stage, a 24 hour race within the main event, at midnight on Friday heading into the Mt Garfield region. A kayaking section on the Boyle, Hope and Waiau Rivers followed early Saturday morning, leading to a mountain bike ride through the Amuri Hills over the Leslie Pass. At the transition teams headed up Mt Percival on a mountain trek before switching back to mountain bikes and cycling via the Jollies Saddle to the 24 Hour race finish in Hanmer.

At 6.00am today (Sunday April 13) the final stage – a rogaine style orienteering section which included biking and trekking-was held over six hours to complete the overall event at mid-day.

At the start of this morning’s competition Powered by Velvet was 90 minutes ahead of Icebreaker R & R Sport and was determined to hold off the challenge to win the Classic Traverse title.

The two teams were neck and neck for much of the race until the Saturday mountain bike section when Icebreaker R & R Sport had a mechanical problem with one of their bikes which slowed them down.

“That’s all part of it and you can’t get stressed about it,” commented Key.

Christison says the contest with Icebreaker R & R Sport was intense and they were well aware the race could go any way.

“It’s never over until you cross the line and it was always going to be close. Anything can happen, you just need to break a bike chain and things change.”

An under 23 team from Dunedin made up of up-and-coming adventure racers Dougal Allan, Mike Walker, Mattie Graham and Emmah Ussher, who raced under the banner of, was disappointed not to make the cut on Saturday before the trek to Mount Percival.

“We were amped and really wanted to continue, it was an awesome course particularly the mountain biking,” says Allan. “It’s been a real experience for us to race in a field with teams like Powered by Velvet and Icebreaker R & R Sport. It’s also helped out navigational skills to do a race like the Traverse.”

Hunt was delighted to have the young team in the event and hopes to encourage others in the future.

“It is time to have more young racers like this coming through for the good of the sport. It was unfortunate that an under 23 North Island team was not able to compete as planned but I am sure we will see a lot more of all these young athletes.”


Southern Traverse Ltd. is a premier international Sport Event Management company. Southern Traverse Ltd. operates and manages elite events around the world, including the Adventure Racing World Championship, the AR World Series and New Zealand's icon adventure race, the Southern Traverse.

Other New Zealand events include The North Face Peak to Peak, TrustPower Adventure Quest, and the Fresh Choice Women’s Triathlon.

The Adventure Racing World Series is an international circuit of premiere adventure races representing 8 countries creating a 12-month calendar of professional events around the world and acting as qualifiers for the Adventure Race World Championship to be held Scotland May '07. is the official ARWorld Series web site
Casio Protrek are the official watches of the ARWorld Series


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