Orion Health GODZone Adventure
Despite the team no longer racing, Orion Health continues to support the inspirational sport of Adventure Racing by becoming the title sponsor for the Orion Health GODZone Adventure www.godzoneadventure.com
International expedition style adventure racing returns to it's bithplace, New Zealand, in what is expected to be one of the most memorable races in the young sports exciting history.
Orion Health GODZone Adventure, presented by 100% PURE Racing, is a multi-day, non-stop, expedition-style adventure race, which will be held between the dates of 7th and 14th April 2012 in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, New Zealand.
Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge
As I write this Stu, Fleur, Nathan and Dougal Allen will be flying towards Abu Dhabi to compete in one of the most competitive races on the planet, the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge.
Racing for a total prize pool of US$226,500 the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge attracts some of the top adventure athletes from around the world.
Historically team Orion Adventure has had good success in Abu Dhabi coming 3rd in 2007, 6th in 2008 and 2nd last year (racing as Team ADCO).
The race consists of 6 days of racing, but unlike traditional adventure racing teams enjoy a rest and food at the end of each stage, as well as a good sleep.
The race will go something like this:Day 1 : Start of the race
- Prologue (canoe, running, swimming): app. 20 kms
- Mountain Bike section: app. 30 kms
- Running section: app. 6,3 kms
Days 3 & 4
- Mountain Bike section: app. 20 kms
- Mountaineering section: 9,8 kms orienteering + Rope Activities
Teams will be self sufficient on Day 3 in the desert.Days 5 & 6
- Mountain Bike section: app. 94 kms
- Desert orienteering section: 121 kms with all optional CPs (app. 70 kms with no optional CPs)
Teams will be self sufficient on Day 5 on an island (day 5).Day 6
- Sea Kayak section: app. 128 kms with all optional CPs (app. 110 kms with no optional CPs).
- Finish of the race in Abu Dhabi.
- Prize giving ceremony in Abu Dhabi: 6.00PM
Dougal Allan is a new addition to Team Orion Adventure and reports as follows:
"I am preparing to take flight, bound for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge as a member of Team Orion Health of New Zealand. To race with the 2008 World Adventure Racing Champions really is a true honour for me. This is a team that has consistently performed at the top of adventure racing events worldwide for a number of years and I have admired them ever since I took up the sport. So, while it feels a bit like a dream to be a member of Orion Health I won’t have time to pinch and awaken myself as we will be spending 6 days running, kayaking, biking, climbing and swimming our way around the deserts and seas of Abu Dhabi.
The race kicks off on December 10th and Fleur, Nath, Stu and I are all confident we can poke our noses around the front of the race right up until the 15th when the final stage concludes. We expect to have tough competition from the world’s strongest and fastest teams but I am personally looking forward to matching it with the best. I have come off a couple of good multisport performances over the last two weekends with a win in Methven’s Big Day at the Office and a win on Saturday in Wanaka’s inaugural Point 3 multisport race. I am feeling really good physically which is just as well because I know just how strong Stu, Nath and Fleur will be, so I will need to be bringing my A game!"
The race can be followed at www.abudhabi-adventure.com and we will do our best to update www.orionadventure.com with our progress at every available chance. A final heartfelt thank you must go to our team sponsors for making it all possible, especially to Orion Health for their support, belief and energy. We cannot wait to race and will give it our all!
Gower Coastal Marathon
Fi and I headed into Wales on Saturday to do the marathon at the Gower stage of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail series. A great venue for a run with some stunning coastal scenery and moorland terrain. Not conducive to a fast marathon time however as there were plenty of hills and mud and an extra 4k thrown in to make the total distance around 46km.
After a week of wet weather Saturday turned out to be a nice sunny day so we had warm air and great views for the run even if it was still pretty soggy underfoot.
I wasn't really expecting to be right at the front however thats where I found myself after the first few minutes so decided to keep the pressure on and see if I could run away from the rest of the pack. That seemed to work out and after a while I had left the chasing group behind and was picking off the Ultra runners and early marathon starters who had set off 45 minutes before the main marathon start.
At around 40km I was really starting to suffer especially as it was now apparent that there was much more that 2km to go! Fortunately I had just enough left to keep up a steady pace to the end and finished in 3hrs 44mins, 15mins clear of 2nd and setting a new course record by a scant 17 seconds.
Fi had a bit of trouble with her ankle but still got around in just over 5 hours, both of us really having enjoyed the Gower penninsular running.
World champs report
The World Championships
For 2010 Spain hosted the Adventure Racing world championships in the Castilla y Leon region, starting and finishing in the historic cities of Avila and Salamanca respectively.
Our team for this years world championships consisted of myself, Brent Edwards who has raced with Orion for the past 4 years, and new Orion team members for this year, Fleur Pawsey and Nathan Peterson. We had all raced together at the Wulong mountain quest in September but this was the first time that this combination was racing together in an Expedition style race. Team OrionHealth's races this year had been plagued by injury and illness and we were especially keen at this the world championships to have a good race and get a good result. In addition to the team we had Brent's father Roy and my partner Fiona along to help with logistics and cheer the team on.
Unfortunately our arrival in Spain coincided with a general transport workers strike and in the ensuing rescheduling of flights and baggage chaos we arrived in Spain missing half of our luggage. Most of the missing items were found the next day however by the time of our transfer from Madrid to Avila we were still missing Nathan's bike box, which as well as containing his bike had several other crucial items of race equipment including life jacket, paddle and inline skates. Hopeful that the airlines would find the gear we carried on with our pre-race preparation over the next few days in Avila. With race day fast approaching and still no sign of the gear the backup plan swung into action and Fi and Roy were dispatched off to a nearby city where we had arranged to borrow a bike and some other race equipment off a friend of one of the Team Buff competitors. New inline skates were purchased from the local sports shop and we were back on track to start the race with a full complement of equipment.
9am on Sunday 3rd October the start gun for the 2010 Adventure race world championships was fired and we were off and racing. A quick foot orienteering section on the streets of Avila got us warmed up as we navigated to landmarks in the city. Running under the ancient city walls that we had walked around the top of during the opening ceremony the evening before, we zigzagged our way through the streets before taking to bikes and settling in for a long ride through the countryside.
After getting a good start in a bunch of 6 or so leading teams we had to ease off the pace and let the front runners pull away as Brent and Nathan struggled with the pace and I got out the tow line to help them out as much as I could. This first ride was split by a few hours of foot orienteering and I was hopeful that the change of discipline would be enough to help the guys recover. Nathan seemed to come right but unfortunately Brent seemed to be getting worse and worse and we were looking at a long ride of damage control as darkness descended and the rain started to fall. At least we had good gear keeping us warm and we made slow but steady progress though the stage until about 10km from the next transition, when Brent could not physically continue and we were forced to stop and rest. After a pretty uncomfortable hour and a half lying in a farmers field we carried on to transition.
Added a bit of a twist to the racing the following stage involved splitting the team into pairs; two would kayak while the other two ran, then at the far end of the lake kayakers and runners switched and returned. There were different routes to take for each pair so we gave Brent and Nathan the easier option with the hope that they could get a bit of rest as we expected the hard route to take significantly longer. Fleur and I kayaked first, had half an hour rest waiting for the guys at the far end before setting off on our run leg. Given how much quicker we were on the kayaking we expected guys to beat us by about an hour on the way back to transition so we set a good pace and ran as much as we could to try and make up some time. Surprisingly we were first back to transition. Brent and Nathan arrived about 15 minutes later having had a lot of difficulty locating a partially hidden checkpoint on the lake, which several other teams had struggled with also. So the guys had not had the rest that we had hoped for, but on the positive side Brent seemed to be on better form as we took to the bikes again for another tough bike ride.
A serious accident!
A few hours into the ride we were making our way up a never-ending vehicle track though forest and farmland. Having been riding along for a while just focussed on the front wheel I looked around at the team to see Brent and Fleur, but no sign of Nathan. Figuring that he had just fallen back a little we stopped and waited for him to catch up. After a minute or two with no sign we realised that something must be wrong – probably a puncture or other mechanical - so I started riding back down the hill to see what the story was. A few corners down I came across team Merrell stopped on the track. Down the side of the steep bank was Nathan lying prone with two of team Merrell in attendance. Having obviously had a serious fall and hit his head quite hard (his helmet was fractured and had been torn from his head) it was quickly decided that we had to get medical help, and so the emergency beacons were activated and we did what we could to keep him comfortable until the helicopter arrived. With no-one having seen the accident and there being risk of head or spinal injury the medics took no chances and got Nathan on a stretcher and into the helicopter to be flown to Avila to be checked out.
Team Merrell and Cynosis who had stopped to help carried on racing, while we kept on with Nathan's gear and bike to the nearest road where we met Antonio the race director who would shuttle the gear on to the next transition. With our race officially over we took the shortest route possibly to the next transition, where we were relieved to hear that Nathan had been checked out, and apart from a mild concussion was otherwise fine.
At this point morale was pretty low. Our world championships bid was over and our friend and team-mate has been hospitalised. We had come a long way to race this course however, and we had so far only completed about a third of it. Brent decided that he had had enough and would not continue but Fleur and I were keen to finish what we had started, so once we had gotten the ok from the race organisation we kitted up again and re-joined the race.
Two go the distance
Over the next four days we raced as a team of two. At times it was tough continuing knowing that we were not a ranked team, however the challenge and beauty of the course reminded us that it is the adventure part of adventure racing which is the great attraction of the sport. Five and a half days after we started in Avila we completed another street orienteering stage through the city of Salamanca to finish the 2010 adventure racing world championships with a spray of champagne and cheers from our friends and retired team mates. We were unranked, only half a team, but had overcome adversity and terrain to complete a truly challenging adventure.
Many thanks to our incredibly supportive sponsors. It hasn't been the podium finish we were aiming for, but we hope we've still put in a worthy performance for the OrionHealth.com team, facing challenges, and never giving up!
Ready to race! World Championships 2010
The countdown is on for the race start - in 8 hours time at 9am local time the racers will be off! The course has been announced, and looks like some good tough legs, with some tricky nav through out which should suit our guys nicely.
The team at Cuerto Postes with Avila in the background, ready for the Opening Ceremony procession.
Things kick off with a sprint orienteering stage around Avila expected to take an hour or so for the top guns - watch the teams with good technical orienteers to do well here - such as Orion, Blackwater with world sprint podium finisher Chris Forne, and Silve-Gerba with Arron Prince. Its then onto the bikes for a 4 hour leg, before another orienteering section set by the Spanish Orienteering organisation, so it will be tough! Thi one has two parts - a 12km section for the team, then two 6km legs which the teams will split up into pairs to complete. Again, this will make things interesting for teams who usually rely on one navigator, but should give an advantage to most of the Kiwi teams who have two or more good orienteers on board. This hould take teams into tomorrow night onto the bike and a night lake kayak.
Brent showing off his climing skills at the pre-race checks.
The weather is forecast o be good tomorrow, but deteriorating in the wee hours of Monday morning, with possibley even snow above 2200m (and the teams will be completing a high trekking stage which reaches...2250m with a challenging ropes section!!). So it will be fro one extreme with temps in Avila today nearing 30 degrees to potentially close to zero on the high ridges. Makes good gear choie essential!
right, thats all for now Roy and I need to hit the sack and grab a few hours sleep before the race start. Orion were super efficient and had all their maps done and in bed not long after11pm. On our way out we saw most other teams including Blackwater and Silva still hard at work on their maps - could be a long night for some!
Adventure Racing World Championships
Recent World Championships
Year Location Winner
2005 NZ Balance Vector (NZ) OH 11th
2006 Sweden Nike (USA) OH 5th
2007 Scotland Nike (USA) OH 3rd
2008 Brazil OrionHealth.com (NZ) Nike 2nd
2009 Portugal Helly Hansen (UK) OH 4th
With the temporary (we hope) demise of Primal Quest, ARWC is the premier Adventure Race in the world. This year there will be 70 teams with athletes from 28 countries. Location is the Castilla y León area of Spain, west of Madrid.
Favorites would have to be Team Nike who have won two previous world championships and Mike Kloser has again got a super strong team including Kiwis Chris Forne and Nathan Fa’avae.
Adidas Terrex (formerly Helly Hansen UK) are the current champions. We believe they have our former team mate Sonya Clark on the team. Other recognized teams include Wilsa AFG from France and Buff Thermocool from Spain who will be familiar with the terrain and are always competitive.
Orion Adventure has not had the best build up with two recent DNFs and two DNSs due injury and illness, so we are hoping for a bigtime change in fortunes.
The word is that this race will be a straight forward A-B expedition adventure race, without the complications seen in recent years. First full course team across the line wins.
The organisers have issued a breakdown of activities:
These equate roughly to the total hours to be spent on each activity.
We will again be carrying GPS trackers so you die hard AR fans and team supporters can follow progress via the internet. Race starts Sunday 3rd October at 8am local 8pm NZDT.
See also: Stu’s article in Blogs
More info when we get there
Day 0 – Prologue
The race is underway and we began in style, each team being driven through Wulong town and to the town square cavalcade style in their own electric open sided car. After that grand entrance we had an opening ceremony complete with gymnasts, drums and guns, speeches from every dignitary in town (and even the Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Association), and finally we got down to some actual racing.
The prologue in Wulong is traditionally fast and furious, beginning with a 3km running loop through the town. It’s quite a spectacle for the locals who line the streets and cheer racers on. They got even more of a spectacle than usual this year, as after the run each team had to carry one of their teammates 500m up the road on a Chinese style sedan chair. It was a tough decision working out who to carry, coming down to a best of three paper scissors rock match, but in the end I took to the chair. It would’ve been quite an enjoyable ride if I hadn’t felt so guilty watching the mammoth effort the boys had to put in to carry me.
Next up was a brief bike ride, then we hit the water of the Fu Rong river for a 4km raft. By this stage the field had separated a little. Team Toread had a clear lead but were being chased hard by Thule. We were in a bunch with several other teams but pulled away from them as soon as we began paddling and worked out way into fifth place. We made good progress and third place was looking within reach, but the river had other ideas. The water was pretty unpredictable and hard to read, and while we didn’t make any mistakes (some teams found themselves doing unplanned 360 degree turns) we couldn’t quite make the gains we needed. We finished the prologue in 5th place, 3 minutes down on race leaders Toread.
Race proper begins tomorrow with… as any good race would… a vegetable carrying relay. We’re sure to have some good stories from that one!
Wulong Mountain Quest
We’re in southern China settling in ahead of the Wulong Mountain Quest. This is one of the most popular events on the international calendar, a four day stage race in the mountainous Wulong region. The race kicks off with a prologue, an hour or so racing on the streets of Wulong, then three full days of mountainbiking, running, kayaking and rafting, plus a bit of caving and abseiling in the karst landscape the area is famous for.
After Wulong we head further south to Zun Yi for two day race, but this one is a bit of a mystery and we know very little about it. The compulsory gear list does include rollerblades so that should add a little humour to the racing.
The Wulong Mountain Quest has always been well supported by New Zealanders and there are a few of us floating around. Orion is sporting an all kiwi line up, while Martin Flinta of Sweden has recruited Richard and Elina Ussher and Nathan Faavae for Team Thule. Jacob Roberts and Marcel Hagener have joined a French team but are racing under the banner of a Chinese sponsor, Toread, and Louise Mark is here with a team from Hong Kong.
The trip to Wulong was pretty painless, we found our way here with the help of (or in spite of) some very useful signs.
Others included permanent signs on the motorway warning us of foul weather, and some simply stating ‘rear end collision,’ while the odd road sign congratulated drivers for their hard work .
We’ve got a couple of days before racing begins, but the mind games have begun already. Nathan has gained a significant psychological advantage for the team by establishing himself as the leading ping pong player in the hotel.
We’ll post more updates once racing gets underway. Watch this space!
Editor's Note: Nathan Peterson has joined the team for these races. He is a Mainlander like Fleur, was 3rd in XPD Cairns with Team Merrell and has competed at Wulong before
Great ride last weekend. Fi and I rode the Trans Wales MTB route from Knighton to the coast. Two days of riding through some fairly remote Wales countryside - and plenty of hills! Fortunately the weather gods were smiling on us and we were'nt subjected to the typical wet Welsh weather. Just enough of a shower to test out the New Berghaus Paldor Peak jacket. Great piece of kit.
Here's a few photos from the ride.
Breaking News - Orion out with Injury
We have some not so good news. Unfortunately we are not going to be able to race Explore Sweden.
Marcel has a stress fracture in his foot and is unable to race. We spent the last few days madly trying to find a replacement, but could not find anyone able to race with us with so little notice.
The end result was me made a decision to cut our losses and not compete, we have been able to transfer our airfares to later on in the year, so at least those airfares are not wasted.
The team is hugely disappointed, but that is sport sometimes, injuries do happen, just a shame this one happened so soon before the race.