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Kaikoura Adventure Race

19-21 April 2024



Kaikoura Adventure Race next week will mark a couple of milestones for Gemma and Richie McCaw.
It will be Gemma’s longest adventure race to date, and the first time the couple has raced together. 

Gemma admits last year she was feeling pretty depleted – three babies in five years, at home with a new born, and Richie was away for four and half months for the Rugby World Cup.

“It was a massive year for me, but my mantra was ‘my time will come,’” she said. 

Her goal over summer was about regenerating sleep and getting into the hills for exercise, which they love doing as a family. 

Looking toward 2024, Gemma suggested to Richie she’d be keen to do an adventure race together, so they pinned down Kaikoura Adventure Race.

On the website, Gemma considered the 12 hour or 48 hour options. 

“I always tell people to set challenges that scare them. Richie said to sign us up for the 48 hour, we’d figure out a plan later.”

Gemma has previously done the 12 hour Kaikoura Adventure Race, while Richie has been a familiar face around New Zealand’s largest and longest expedition race, GODZONE.   

Training has been a juggle for this young family. They’re good at tag teaming and the family and friend support has been incredible. Getting into the hills with a pack on has been Gemma’s priority, and getting on her mountain bike when time allows.

“About a three or four hour session has been my biggest one.” 

Their youngest daughter has just turned one, and Richie always makes sure Gemma can get out the door for a training session as often as possible.

“I feel really lucky to have his support.”

With the race just days away, they’re both looking forward to a solid dose of outdoors in the Kaikoura District, where they often go for family holidays. Joining them in the team of four will be Australia’s Andrew Reid, and New Zealand’s Lachie Boyle, both very accomplished athletes. 

Gemma met Andrew in 2013 when they both took part in a sports charity event for Murray Halberg, and the pair raced in Red Bull Defiance in 2018. Gemma described Andrew as such a positive person who has turned his life around through sport.

Lachie went to university with Richie. 

Unlike the world of Black Sticks and All Blacks, Gemma said Kaikoura Adventure Race has a different focus for them. 

She’s aware it could be a world of hurt at times and it’s a long time out there, but as long as they look after their feet and nutrition, look after each other, then they should get through. And if the weather behaves that is a bonus. 

“We really want to cross that finish line, and we want to enjoy it.”

She’s a bit nervous about sleep deprivation and knows in the ideal world she would have had more training miles under her belt. 

She also conceded that compared to the rest of the team, she is a novice in the world of adventure racing. 

“But when you have a young family, you just try and do what you can when you can.”

Gemma knows if she can hang in for the first 24 hours, she’ll get through the second half of the race okay. She’s looking forward to being in the wilderness with her husband and two great guys, taking on the immense physical feat on the yet unknown course, and seeing how they go. 

“That’s what I’m most excited about.”

The McCaw girls will be there too, thanks to parent help from both sides and good friends. 

“It will be great for our girls to see us do it, keeping on going, having a goal, pushing through when things get tough. It will be cool to look back and talk about this race, and what we did.”

Race directors Tane Cambridge and Tim Farrant threw around the idea of stepping up to a 48 hour race earlier this year, and quickly realised it wouldn’t be too difficult double the traditional 24 hour course.

“For the last few years the 24 hour teams have been out longer that that anyway,” said Tane.

Next weekend will be the fifth Kaikoura Adventure Race, and there was a virtual race during the Covid period. 

Starting as a fundraiser for Kaikoura High School with a 12 hour race as the longest option, the race has grown significantly in popularity. It now represents the Adventure Racing South Island Secondary School Championships, and has its spot on the race calendar as part of the Adventure 1 Series (A1) which includes countries in Oceania, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. 

They’ve got more than 770 people toeing the start line in two, three and four person teams, the bulk entered in the three, six and 12 hour races, and many of them school children.

Tane is the controller, checks the course all things safety related, while Tim does the bulk of the course planning. 

“It’s always great to see kids coming back so excited, and using their own problem solving skills out on the course.”

They can’t disclose much about the course yet, but Tane said there is a very ‘GODZONE-esque’ section in the 48 hour race, and plenty of other exciting little bits too.

“There will be sections of the race you might not do in your own adventures.”

Tane wanted to express a big thank you to the Kaikoura community, landowners and teams for making this race a success year after year. 

He said having Event manager Bin Kennedy as a local farmer is invaluable, because without great relationships with farmers, adventure racing would not be possible. 

“Seeing everyone get home safely is what we most look forward to.”  

Queenstown-based multi world champion adventure racer Chris Forne has always been keen to do this race, but with his usual team mates busy with other arrangements, he thought he’d take another approach. 

He gave Tim Farrant a ring, telling him he was on the search for someone or a team to race with, for the 48 hour race. 

Coined as the best navigator in the world with multiple GODZONE and World Championship titles Seagate and later Avaya, Chris has always enjoys passing his skills onto others. 

“Looking back on my international career to now, there are always areas that could be improved on.”

Still yet to find out who he’ll be racing with, he said enthusiasm, experience with adventure racing, a willingness to learn and improve, perhaps looking to race internationally, and with a good knack with a compass were good attributes.

“If they can help with the navigation that’d be a bonus.”
Chris said he’d be the one with the compass in his hand for most of the race, but a second opinion and the opportunity to teach someone a skill or two would be great. 

“It’s like anything, the more you do it, the more skills you gain.”

Chris is a huge fan of racing with different people to expand skills, because there are so many little things to learn. 

“It’s easy not to realise where you are losing time, often a lot of small scale stuff teams may not be aware of. Adventure Racing is all about efficiency.”

He’s looking forward to racing a course set by Tim and Tane who have orienteering backgrounds, he’s predicting a fun and interesting course that will take teams into some cool little areas.

“I’m quite excited, it should be fun.”

Unleash Your Adventure!

The Kaikoura Adventure Race

The Kaikoura Adventure Race is a traditional adventure race that encompasses multiple disciplines, including hiking, mountain biking, pack rafting, and navigation. Teams unite to conquer challenges and complete stages back to back. Our courses provide a balance between pushing the limits of the strongest teams while remaining achievable for all participants. For teams unable to complete the full course, shorter course options are available. Choose from our exciting 3, 6, 12, or 48-hour events and embark on an unforgettable adventure.

The Kaikoura District with its mountains to sea, hill country, rivers and an abundance of native bush the stunning scenery never disappoints. Every year the courses take you over new terrain as the race shifts round the district thanks to the generosity of our landowners who open their gates for the race.

Located just a convenient two-hour drive north from Christchurch and two hours south from Blenheim, the exact location and course details will be revealed closer to the event. At the pre-event briefing, teams will receive maps and course notes, providing valuable insights into the upcoming course challenges.

Join us for the Kaikoura Adventure Race, where we also host the South Island Secondary Schools Adventure Racing Championships and open-eligibility high school events. By participating, you contribute to the fundraising efforts benefiting Kaikoura High School, the local community, and adventure racing groups.

Voted as one of the most beautiful towns in the world, Kaikoura offers an exceptional experience for support crews and families. Explore the endless array of activities available while your teams embark on their race. Visit Kaikoura.nz

Come and be part of the Kaikoura Adventure Race. Register today and unleash your adventure!



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