The Team Go Fence Marlborough crew of Kieran Hickman, Glenn Blackmore, Jeremy McKenzie and Mandy Macfarlane are primed and ready to tackle the 2021 Godzone adventure race later this week.
However, their participation in an event they have trained long and hard for is now in the hands of the government as Covid-19 levels continue to fluctuate.
The ninth chapter is scheduled to be staged in the Rotorua area, beginning on Friday morning. With the nation, apart from Auckland, at level two until Sunday, the four Marlburians are sweating on a decision as to whether the event will proceed.
The Rotorua-based Godzone was originally scheduled for November, 2020, but was deferred to March, again due to Covid concerns which have continued to dog the iconic event.
All four of the Team Go Fence contingent have previously tackled the country’s highest-profile adventure race. Glenn, Kieran and Mandy were part of the 2019 team who completed the Pure course in Canterbury but were ultimately unranked after their fourth team-mate, Andrew Jones, was forced out with injury.
The previous year, in Fiordland, Glenn, Andrew, Kieran and Bec Scherp finished third in the Pursuit section, the second-tier race that allowed support crews to attend to their athletes,
Jeremy is also an experienced adventurer. He was part of the Absolute Wilderness team which took part in the 2014 Godzone, based around Kaikoura. They finished third overall, becoming the event’s surprise package.
Although Glenn suggests the quartet’s training this year has “been a little more individual”, they have got through a tonne of preparation.
“Trying to prepare as a team has been tough but we have done a few events together.”
Glenn, Jeremy and Mandy completed the Marikopa Munter 24-hour race in November; Mandy, Glenn and Jeremy tackled the Five Peaks Race on home territory; Kieran and Mandy competed in the recent Coast to Coast while Kieran, Jeremy and Glenn took part in a “pretty brutal” 48-hour pack raft and foot trek event in Fiordland around Christmas.
“We have had to mix the training around family and work, so we will see how we go.”
They will again compete in the Pure section, which, this year for the first time, will allow the input of support crews.
Go Fence Marlborough’s support crew this year comprises Danielle Blackmore, Tim Macfarlane, Ben and Thomas Blackmore and Finn McKenzie.
Although international teams will be absent from this year’s event, there are still 73 teams entered in the Pure section.
While the course will remain a secret until race day some details of what the athletes face have been released. The 12-stage course will cover approximately 700km, will entail around 14,000m of vertical climbing, around 190km is on foot, 330km on bike and 130km on the water, pack rafting or kayaking.
Glenn says the team’s main goal is simple, “to complete the full course”.
“We have eight and a half days to do it, it’s going to be pretty brutal, [the organisers] have already estimated that only 30-40 percent are going to finish the full course. It’s the longest course they have ever had for a Godzone.
“We also have our micro goals – obviously, enjoyment is a big one and getting the detail right around our navigation will be key.”
The local team’s main sponsors are Goldpine, Liquid Action, Drummond & Etheridge, Starborough Wines and Osgro Seeds.