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Spring Challenge teams to explore what’s on Taupo’s doorstep

Spring Challenge North – Taupo - Saturday, October 27


A record number of women will be enjoying the annual Spring Challenge North, this year based in Taupo, as they explore the best of what the adventure destination has to offer on Saturday.

This is third Spring Challenge to be held in the North Island – along with the 12 successful South Island races – and it has attracted the highest number of entries to date. There will be 251 all-female teams traversing rafting, mountain biking and hiking stages as they navigate their way through 3, 6 and 9-hour courses.

This is the first year that Spring Challenge organisers five-time Adventure Racing World Champion Nathan Fa’avae and his wife Jodie have offered four-women teams. It has proven a popular addition with 70 four-women teams, joining the 181 three-women teams. In total there will be 823 women competing this Saturday.

“We are stoked to achieve record North Island entries for Taupo, as after our inaugural event in Rotorua in 2016 and our Auckland-based race last year, it looks like Spring Challenge is well on its way to becoming the annual must-do event that it is in the South Island,” Nathan says.

The teams will have support crews moving their gear around for them on Saturday, as they transition in and out of the different stages and they will not be required to head to any far-flung locations. The theme around this year’s Spring Challenges is ‘what’s on the doorstep’ and the Westport-based South Island event, held last month, encapsulated the wild beauty of the west coast within a compact area.

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“While the exact details of the course are kept a secret until the maps are handed out to the teams on Friday night, we can say that Taupo will be similar to Westport in that we’ve been keen to showcase the adventure opportunities just a stone’s throw from the townships and have the teams exploring the hidden gems close by.”

“Taupo is a world-class adventure destination and our planning team have really enjoyed the trips there plotting the course. We can promise that it’ll be a great adventure and a day of discovery, even for the local teams,” Nathan says.

Godzone Adventure Race winner and experienced adventure racer Dan Moore has led the course design team for the first time and Nathan is confident he has created a journey worthy of a Spring Challenge.

“The course will involve guided white water rafting on a great scenic section of local river, some interesting trekking and mountain biking and as always navigation that will challenge some teams but reward those who have put work into this element. There will be route choice at times, which will allow teams to strategise and potentially pick up placings and time through being cunning. If the weather is fine and clear on the event day, teams can expect to enjoy some expansive views of the great lake,” Dan says.

As with any adventure race, navigation will play a significant role in the challenge - forcing teams to work coherently as they search for all the checkpoints on each stage. Teams must complete the entire course together, traveling through the stages as a unit - meaning it is not a relay where different team mates do different stages. In adventure racing, the whole team does everything together.

Taupo is not unfamiliar territory for Nathan as he ran the Autumn Challenge women’s adventure race there in 2008.

“That event was successful also and it’s exciting to be back a decade on with an all-new course. The region is rich in history and culture and we have done our best to weave that into the fabric of the event,” Nathan says.

The 9-hour and six-hour open teams will start the rafting stage at 6am; the 6-hour junior, veteran, super-veteran and corporate teams will start at 9am and all 3-hour teams will begin at 12pm.

Among the 3-hour entrants will be the Gold Card Express team, made up of three Whakatane women with a combined average age of 68. Jill McLeod turns 70 on race day and to celebrate, she will be competing in her first-ever adventure race. She is racing with her sister and sister-in-law Marilyn Sisam and Heather Hourigan.

Jodie was thrilled to see this team’s details and says they embody what Spring Challenge is all about.

“Women of all ages and abilities, enjoying the benefits of training together and sharing an adventure on race day.”

“Our staff team are looking forward to delivering another awesome event this weekend. A big shout out of thanks must also go to all our wonderful volunteers and our sponsors, who get behind the Spring Challenge and help make it happen,” Jodie says.


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