One of the world’s most acclaimed adventure racing teams has wrapped up two decades of racing by winning New Zealand’s premiere expedition race, One New Zealand GODZONE, in Riverton this evening (Monday 27th Feb).
Adventure racing world champions Nathan Fa’avae, Sophie Hart, Stu Lynch and Chris Forne of Team Avaya crossed the Taramea Bay GODZONE finish line at 11.28 pm.
They underpinned their adventure racing prowess by completing the grueling 560km Chapter 11 course in an impressive four days, 8 hours, and 45 minutes.
“We had a great race with a plan to push reasonably hard from the start to create a gap, settle into a rhythm and travel at a comfortable speed,” said Nathan Fa’avae. “It allowed us to wait and see if any challenges were coming from other teams. We maintained the lead, got plenty of sleep and moved efficiently.”
Lifting the coveted GODZONE champions trophy was a fitting reward for the hard toil of non-stop racing through Fiordland and Southland wilderness areas.
“This is the last competitive race for me at this level because the reality is that it’s getting hard for me to keep up with a team like this,” said Fa’avae. “I’m looking forward to not having to be anywhere in a hurry over the next few days and just chilling and enjoying the recovery.”
A large crowd gathered at the Riverton finish line to welcome the champion team home, including Fa’avae’s wife, Jodie.
He credited his Avaya teammates Sophie Hart, Chris Forne and Stu Lynch, who, together as a team, have been dominating the sport together since the early 2000s (initially as team Seagate).
“It has been an amazing time travelling and racing around the world with these guys on many adventures, but it’s time for a change for me now.”
“When I look back throughout my career, one thing that has been a constant is having great sponsorship – first with Seagate and then with Avaya. This allowed us to have an all-New Zealand team racing on the world stage,” he said.
Fa’avae reflected on a remarkable career spanning 40 expedition-length events around the globe.
“They were all amazing experiences, but more recently, the Eco-Challenge in Fiji was pretty exciting because of the production scale.”
“New Zealand is my favourite place to race which is why I have done so many GODZONES and Southern Traverses because the Southern Alps is such an incredible place to travel. You can’t beat this event for wilderness experiences.”
One New Zealand GODZONE Race Director, Warren Bates, says Fa’avae and team Avaya go out on top, and he’s unsure there will be another adventure racing personality like Nathan.
“It’s been a special occasion to farewell him; he has been an incredible servant, and amazing sports ambassador, “said Bates. “ He is an outstanding athlete and strategist, and this team is probably the best to have ever raced the sport. I think his retirement leaves a void for someone else to step up and fill.”
Success has followed Fa’avae wherever he has gone on the adventure racing scene, and he has established his own events, such as the Spring Challenge and the True West Adventure Race.
He says he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.
“I’ve got three teenage children who are active and busy, my wife Jodie who is looking forward to spending more time with her husband plus hunting and skiing. I will always do many outdoor adventures because that’s how I’m wired. Still, my time is done for these expedition-length adventure racers, especially in a competitive team like Avaya, and it’s time to move on.”