24 hr Southern Traverse, Queenstown, N.Z.










This photo coverage was provided by Jose Manuel Jimenez (www.jmjrphotos.com).







( November 18th, 2007)


After enjoying organising the first 24 hours of Southern Traverse event in 2006, the Southern Traverse team led by Geoff Hunt decided that it would remain on the calendar in the Wakatipu region into the future. The organisers thoroughly enjoyed staging the event in their home town and competitors were raving about the race they just had.
This years event gave Hunt the opportunity to yet again explore one of the many classic Wakatipu ridge lines.


The race began at midnight on Friday 17th November in Arrowtown and the first stage took teams in the darkness up on to the Crown Range.
Race director Geoff Hunt says the only way you can guarantee that every team has a fair share of the night experience is to start the race in the middle of the night.
"We have had a great response from the athletes last year with the midnight start so we decided to repeat it."

With the first stage a steep climb from Arrowtown to the top of the Crown Range, the teams began to split progressively. IceBreaker R & R Sport and Paper Plus Queenstown team lead through this stage but were closely chased by the Murray Thomas led Kapa Design Gallery team and the Queenstown Frontrunner team.
As the teams disappeared into the clear starry night, the headlamps could occasionally be seen flashing on the tussocks covered hills as the teams moved up onto the second stage, a 15km trek along the classic ridge line of the Crown Range to Cardrona ski field.


What initially appeared to be relatively simple on the map started to sort the field as teams struggled to find the correct ridge from Mt Sale which led onto the connecting Cardrona ridge lines. Again, the experienced heads in the front teams prevailed and it was here that both Icebreaker R & R Sport and Paper Plus Queenstown broke away from the field.
By the Cardrona checkpoint both these teams had opened up a gap of one and half hours on the chasing teams.

At the briefing, race director Geoff Hunt made it known he had done this checkout on skis. A member from a straying team was heard to comment on their choice of route on Mt Sale: "Are you sure that Geoff would have skied this?" The team had to retrace their steps back to the top and find the correct route to join the Cardrona ridge lines.



The next stage took teams on a tough 35km mountain bike via the Roaring Meg pack track to the Kawarau River. With only 600 metres of ascension and over 2500 metres of descending, this was described as a highlight of the event. Some teams however found the single track down the Roaring Meg catchment tough and all teams reported problems with punctures from the notorious Spaniards.
This time the veteran Paper Plus Queenstown team lead into and out of the transition as the teams set out on the short 9kms paddle to the Bannockburn inlet.



Both teams arrived and left together onto the last trek, a 15km hike up through the historic Carricktown gold mining area and along one of the many water races that dot the central Otago region.

It was right at the end of this stage that Icebreaker R & R Sport finally made a break on Paper Plus Queenstown and arrived at bike transition with a six minute lead. After a fast 14km descent on mountain bike down the Nevis Road, they had increased this lead to thirteen minutes. During the last 11km paddle across Lake Dunstan to the Lowburn Inlet finish they gained another 7 minutes with the advantage of paddling double kayaks.



Icebreaker R and R Sport team, Mark Williams, Haydn Key and Mitch Murdoch, (Queenstown) along with Matt Woods (Dunedin) won the 112km race in 14 hours 20 minutes just under an hour ahead of the predicted pace.

Twenty one minutes behind were the highly experienced Queenstown Paper Plus team of Bill Godsall (Cromwell) and Jim Cotter (Dunedin). who had been setting the pace all day.
Matt Woods from winning Icebreaker R & R Sport says the 24 Hours of Southern Traverse was a highly competitive race.

"We had some close racing all day with Paper Plus Queenstown. It was a really good battle with them which was great because while being good friends we certainly did not want the old boys to beat us across the line."




Results Overall

1 Icebreaker R&R Sport 14:20 (4 person team)
2 Paper Plus Queenstown 14:41 (2 person team)
3 Kapa Design Gallery 16:56 (4 person team)



The 24 hours course again drew widespread praise for its diversity and its fantastic scenery.
Geoff Hunt says he is pleased with the reaction to the course.
"We always work to try and achieve a race course that we would want to race on.
This actually forms part of our company mission statement and each year we strive to achieve that. This year the trekking legs were mostly uphill which lead to downhill mountain bike stages and this was well appreciated by all the racers."

With winning times of around 15 hours, slow times of between 20- 23 hours, a variety of stages and a relaxed atmosphere, the 24 hours of southern traverse have proven over the last two years that they provide one of 'the best experience' in adventure racing in the country.
With those events based permanently in the Wakatipu Southern Lakes region, 24 hours of southern traverse promises many more exciting and achievable courses in the future.
The organisers are now looking towards staging the new 3 day format 'classic southern traverse' which will be held in the Hanmer area in April. The event which has been postponed from an earlier date closely resembles the original format but for its length. With mountain biking, trekking, and kayaking over 3 days, the 400 kms course provides orienteering challenges, night racing experience and the chance to compete for a coveted free entry in the next AR World Championship to be held in Brazil in September 2008.

This event will have great appeal to those hundreds of Coast to Coast athletes who have come off a summer of training and are looking forward to another challenge. Navigation provides a different aspect for the multisport athlete and sleep deprivation is kept to a reasonable level with a compulsory rest zone.


For more information contact the organisers on www.southerntraverse.com





Copyright © 2006 www.triathlonshots.com - All Rights Reserved.