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World champion adventure racers Nathan Fa’avae, Sophie Hart, Stu Lynch and Chris Forne of Team Avaya are executing an exhilarating performance at One New Zealand GODZONE to hold onto their first-place position as the race enters its fourth day.


The team has spent the last 24 hours traversing the high reaches of the Takitimu Mountain Range on stage 8 of the 12-stage expedition race through Fiordland. They arrived at the Pleasant Valley transition area just at 7 am this morning.

“Today is going to be a bit of a mystery for us with a little 60km bike ride that should be relatively uneventful, I hope, but then there is quite a lengthy kayak stage down the Oreti River,” said Nathan Fa’avae. “It has a dark zone kicking in at 8.30 pm, so what time we start to paddle today and the river levels will determine if we can clear it tonight and move forward on the course.”


The GODZONE leaders spent just 23 minutes having food in the Pleasant Valley transition area before getting their mountain bikes for the 60km stage 9 ride through the Taringatura forest.


“We had a quick sleep for about an hour up in the forest on the mountain trek because it was nice and warm up there, but we are focused on getting through this bike and onto the river,” said Fa’avae.


Avaya has led GODZONE’s 280 competitor field from day one of racing. Team No Idea’s Will Hand (28), Will Adlam (26), Amy Mannering (29) and Shaun Palmer (25) managed to sneak past them at the sixth transition site after the Lake Monowai trekking stage while the team was sleeping. However, Avaya quickly regained its front position, overtaking No Idea at the start of the 50km Takitimu trek.


GODZONE Race Director Warren Bates says the kayak put in has been moved 20km downstream due to extremely low water flows at the top of the Oreti. The race rules determine that no teams can paddle on the river between 8.30 pm – 7.00 am.

“Avaya is looking confident and untroubled at the front of the field with laser-guided focus on getting through the kayak today, if possible,” says Bates. “If that happens, we expect they could cross the GODZONE finish line in Riverton sometime between 10 pm and midnight tonight while the rest of the chasing teams will get caught in the dark zone.”

Team No Idea is currently in second position, and Tiki Tour from Queenstown and Wellington are in third. The rest of the field is spread over 300km of terrain, with some short course cut off’s looming tomorrow.

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