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ARC Adventure Race – Raglan’s Long Pursuit

ARC Adventure Race – Raglan’s Long Pursuit

The Maori name for Raglan is Whangaroa. Translated, this means “long pursuit”, which is the theme given to this year’s 14th ARC Adventure Race. It’s a fitting moniker, for as more than 200 participants will discover this weekend, adventure racing is nothing if not a “long pursuit”.

In 2014, the ARC Adventure Race ventures away from the Coromandel for only the third time, to Raglan, for a long pursuit that has attracted more than 200 endurance junkies. Among them will be old-hands Mike White (Thames) and Henry Beex (Huntly), who have participated in all 13 ARC Adventure Races to date.

Established in 1989, Adventure Racing is a team sport, usually of four with at least one woman, that combines traditional endurance sport disciplines such as trekking, running, kayaking and mountain biking, with challenging terrain and navigational and climbing skills usually more akin to major expeditions. Races can be between half a day and a week and run non-stop, with the route usually kept top secret until the day before.

The ARC Adventure Race gets underway on Saturday morning from Raglan. The annual event gives competitors the option of the feature Osprey Packs 24-Hour event, or the Torpedo 7 12-Hour, or the ARC Eight-Hour options and while the route remains secret, challenges this year include the typical kayaking, mountain biking and trekking, as well as special skills such as rock climbing, caving and rifle shooting, and the ARC’s trademark mystery activity that remains secret until participants are faced with it.

The feature Osprey Pack 24-Hour event will be a battle between 2013’s bridesmaids, with Rotorua’s Team Out for the View of David Blundell, Rhyse Burns, Rob Lei and Campbell Bennett looking to improve on last year’s second place, while last year’s fourth placegetters, Opotiki’s Team Substitutes of Destry Harte, Hedley Meachem, Carl Brown and Lea Vellenowith, will be keeping them honest.

In the Torpedo 7 12-Hour reigning champions from Thames, Team Crash Bandicoots of Jo and Darren Donnelly and Mike White and Colin Earwaker will be looking to repeat, but will be challenged by Aucklanders, Team Nga Rakau of Mark Struthers, Annie Windross and Tim Cochraine.

While navigation and night racing play as big a part as the typical endurance challenges of distance and terrain, the ARC organisers promise that Raglan’s rugged and remote terrain will test everyone, with the regions steep ranges expected to make trekking and mountain biking the key physical challenges.

For the sixth year the ARC adventure race will also host a special category that strives to find the best New Zealand Special Services.

A new initiative for 2014 is a special five person team category where four are always racing while a fifth acts as a reserve racer and support crew. The fifth person drives their vehicle with gear for each section of the race, but can be swapped in and out whenever a team chooses, as long as there are always four people racing together at the same time.

“This new category came about from support crews often being athletes themselves who wanted to race,” says race organiser Andy Reid. “But it’s also a good way for adventure racing rookies and families to get a taste of the adventure racing experience.”

Organisers Andy Reid and Keith Stephenson are Coromandel residents and endurance sport enthusiasts who got together 15 years ago to form Adventure Racing Coromandel, an event company aimed at promoting adventure and endurance sports in their region. The result was a collection of five different events, all of which have become favourites with endurance junkies across the country.

As well as the ARC Adventure Race they organise the Cranleigh K2 Cycle Classic and the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run. This year they will also organise a second ARC Adventure Race in September.

Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel charitable trust, which they established toencourage their regions youth into sporting and outdoor pursuits. This year’s ARC Adventure Race will fund a local Raglan teenager to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre for their own “long pursuit”.

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