The Spring Challenge North all-women’s event will embrace an area that has long been left unchartered by adventure races, when it takes 145 teams through the Whanganui hill country on Saturday.
A total of 481 women – competing in teams of three or four – will begin with a raft stage and then navigate their way on foot and on mountain bikes through their 3-hour, 6-hour or 9-hour courses.
Spring Challenge Whanganui route planner and course designer Dan Moore grew up in and spent his school years in Whanganui. After competing in two Adventure Racing World Championships (Australia and Reunion Islands), undertaking six Godzone Adventure Races in New Zealand and taking on the Coast to Coast multisport race many times, Dan has put all his knowledge to good use.
“I’m stoked to return to Whanganui to design these Spring Challenge courses, as it is a bit of an unknown spot for adventure racing. There’s been events pass through the region, like the Mountains to Sea Multisport Race, but none where competitors have to navigate in teams,” Dan says.
Although the courses (which remain a secret until the map hand-out on Friday night) seem reasonably short in distance, don’t be deceived into thinking that means they are easy.
“They are steep and slippery, so make sure you wear grippy sneakers and mountain bike shoes. The courses are primarily on Whanganui hill country and while the stage distances are not as long, compared to previous Spring Challenges, the intricate nature of the terrain will make up for this. Stay focused on your maps as the teams that will do well, are the ones that take their time and remain on the intended route.”
“The courses will have a character all of their own and will be like no others we have run in the North Island. This is unique country and involves minimal time in public areas,” Dan says.
He thanks the local iwi for their support of the Spring Challenge Whanganui and especially for preparing the hangi which will be laid down near the finish line to feed the hungry hordes.
“We are grateful to the local communities and landowners for their assistance in running the event. Also, we want to thank the volunteers who are helping with marshal duties and on the river, plus the council’s tourism arm Whanganui and Partners for their support. We appreciate having the Whanganui War Memorial Centre provided for the registration and prize-giving,” Dan adds.
“I can’t wait to see all the women out there enjoying their adventures in this special part of New Zealand on Saturday,” Dan summaries.
Founded and organised by six-time World Adventure Racing Champion Nathan Fa’avae and his wife Jodie, this is the 4th year the Spring Challenge has come to the North Island. The popular annual adventure race just clocked up its 13th year in the South Island at a sell-out event in Cromwell last month.