Cameron Jones leads his Vibrant Earth Skid Marks team-mates Luke Born and Ryan Doyle into the fog in Saturday's Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race near St Arnaud.

An absolute adventure

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Team Chasing Gloria’s Gus Jennings, Joe MacIntyre and Perry Turner beat Waimea College’s Cameron Jones, Ryan Doyle and Luke Born in the Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race near St Arnaud on Saturday.

The three-person team’s race started with a 500-metre trail run from the base of Rainbow Ski-field to the Wairau River, where teams rafted 9km to Chinaman Stream.

They then mountainbiked up Beeby’s Knob and had an orienteering stage around Woolshed Flat before biking up to Rainbow Ski-field for an alpine trek followed by a 14km downhill ride to the finish.

The winning time was 11hr 3min 42sec with the first women’s team, Adventure Gals’, Catherine Kircher, Ellen Pullar and Freya O’Donoghue, finishing in 12hr 49min 18secs.

Defending six-hour champions Waihora Wombelers (Jason Arnold, Gareth Ward and Dave Bailey) won their race in 5hr 9min 34sec with Where’s the Finish’s Matt Galbraith, Martin Green and James Howden, in second and Could Have Been All Blacks’ Rhys Horncastle, Ben Coman and Steve Milson third.

The first women’s team was Pam Morris, Jackie MacIntyre and Marjolein Edwards in 5hr 51min 23sec. The 6-hour race totalled 49km over four stages.

JRC’s Robbie Swarbrik, Craig Brixton, Jamie Thirkettle won the three-hour event ahead of the Waihora Pocket Rockets boys team from Tai Tapu School (Lui Arnold, Hamish Sadler, Reece Rush) and Motueka High School girls team Jessie Fa’avae, Davis Sunbye and Kyla Rayward.

Race director Nathan Fa’avae says it was “really pleasing to see so many school teams participating in adventure races as they’re significant challenges and quite complex”.

“I think they learn a lot. The school teams are not just taking part, they’re pushing the adults really hard, these teenage kids are racing for line honours. “It’s an awesome testament to how strong New Zealand is in the sport internationally, young people racing confidently and capably”.

Nathan says feedback was positive with the common theme being the wilderness settings and adventure the courses provided.

“The different courses had varying degrees of difficulty but I think the rewards were there, the challenges justified. A lot of people struggled biking up to the ski-field, but the chance to do a hiking stage in the alpine was unique and worth the effort.”