After setting off on Saturday afternoon, navigator Chris Forne has led his Yealands Family Wines team into first place overnight on the GODZone expedition with 60 teams following in their tracks as they climbed the 3250m high Ben Nevis on the Red Hills in the Richmond Ranges.
Stage 3 of the 530km expedition is a 52km trek up over Ben Nevis, then down towards the Upper Motueka River and across to the well known Beebys Hut. The teams will eventually arrive at Tophouse near St Arnaud tonight or tomorrow.
Race director Warren Bates says the Red Hills mountain range is high and exposed with a barren red rock landscape quite unlike anything else in the region. “It’s a reasonably good track over the top but very steep with narrow ridgelines. As teams trek down into the valley they will be taking extreme care over shingle and abrasive red rock terrain.”
The top ten teams have all entered this stage overnight.
“No surprises Chris Forne’s team is leading the pack. He is taking an interesting route choice as they head to the valley, not the way we recce’d it but teams have the right to choose where they go, as long as they hit all the checkpoints along the way,” says Warren.
Richie McCaw and the Cure Kids team moved into this trekking stage at 2am this morning and are moving steadily forward in the mid field.
Meanwhile back in Kaiteriteri, ten more teams have started their GODZone journey on a new shorter six day pursuit course. These teams have support crews following them to each TA along the way.
Current Top Five Teams: Team Yealands Family Wines, Team Sword fox, Team Torpedo 7, Team Adventure Medical Kits, Team Bivouac Inov 8.