Adventure racing: Nathan Fa’avae explains where to start New Zealand’s biggest sport
Adventure runner Nathan Fa’avae. Photo / Supplied, GodZone
Kiwis like to fit in a lot in their free time.
They are always on the move and looking to try something new, which could explain the large number of multisport events across the country. It’s a great way to take in New Zealand’s stunning vistas, as a team and to the beat.
Since the 1980s, Aotearoa New Zealand has been home to world famous events, such as Coast to Coast and Godzone, but also the best adventure racers in the world.
“World’s Toughest Runner” Nathan Fa’avae is a famous face in the sport.
He was the captain of the New Zealand team to victory in six world championships and, in 2019, won gold at the Eco Challenge Fiji or the “World’s Toughest Race”.
The Bear Grylls TV series as a result of their trip helped popularize New Zealand niche sport to the world.
“So many people are signing up for adventure events. The border restriction seems to be causing people to focus on what to do in New Zealand,” Fa’ave said. “It’s good.”
Having competed in 30 different countries, New Zealand is still his favorite place to train and run.
Rather than solo efforts, most races are team sports. Almost unique to adventure racing, competitive teams must be made up of male and female riders. However, this year there are a number of women-only events, with bustling women and spring and summer challenges in Hawke’s Bay and Te Anau.
“Forming teams is really about bringing together friends with similar skills, who want to share an adventure,” he says. “I don’t think there is any secret to a successful team, it’s about respect, trust, compassion, patience, support and encouragement, honesty and fun.”
Fun is an important part of the sport for more relaxed teams, who choose to focus more on the “Adventure” aspect rather than the “Race”.
Next year, Nathan participates in the launch of the True West challenge to Franz Josef (truewest.nz). As Race Director, he has helped design a course that will showcase the wildest parts of the West Coast and challenge athletes whether they are aiming for first place or 501st.
With three active teenagers, he discovers that even when they’re not training or running, they spend their time outdoors – exploring on foot, by kayak and by bike.
“The outside is my place.”
Nathan Fa’avae’s top four tips for beginners in adventure racing:
Learn the basics – “The key to getting into adventure running is learning the basic skills: mountain biking, kayaking, trail running, hiking and boating. “
Head to the beach – “For kayaking, since most New Zealanders live on the coast, I recommend people start with a suitable surfski and paddle in the ocean or lakes. When the time comes, transfer these skills to rivers. . “
Take your marks – “Navigation is the best learned orienteering, and there are clubs all over New Zealand that run events, so people should join their local club and learn the map and the compass.”
Get these steps in – “Stomping is the key to conditioning, heading up a hill with a heavy bag is money in the bank for Adventure Racing.”
2022/23 Adventure Racing Calendar
The GOAT, January 22, Ruapehu
You’ll need to be as agile as a mountain goat to conquer Ruapehu on this full-day run from Whakapapa to Turoa Ski Areas. Spectators can get a great view of the start of the pack from Sky Waka before meeting up after the race at Powderkeg Bar or Kings in Ōhakune.
Long-term weekend, February 5, Waikato
The multi-day Waikato event invites athletes to compete in three disciplines over the long weekend in February. The Kiwis will arrive in Cambridge to swim, cycle and run Karāpiro. There’s plenty of space to recuperate at the Hidden Lake Hotel, near Good Union Church turned into a craft brewery.
Kathmandu Coast to Coast, February 11, West Coast
Since 1983, the C2C has been New Zealand’s OG adventure race. Crossing the divide between the West Coast and New Brighton Beach in Christchurch, more than 20,000 competitors raced, cycled and paddled the 243km epic. The 2022 event is sold out, so plan ahead to make sure you’re in the race for 2023.
Spirited Woman, February 25, Hawke’s Bay
In its seventh year, the all-female adventure race crosses picturesque Hawke’s Bay, beyond the iconic hilly landscape. After having done the mahi, competitors (and spectators) can feast on Malo, at the restaurant of the Porters Boutique Hotel in Havelock North, and at the adjoining Heretaunga Wine Studio.
Ring of Fire, March 12, Ruapehu
From the 6 km Tussock Traverse to the 73 km Ring of Fire ultra marathon, the race takes runners through the volcanic heart of Tongariro National Park.
With accommodation options through the Chateau Tongariro hotel, competitors can treat themselves to royal luxury at the end of the race. You deserved it.
Wild kiwi, March 12, Northland
Passing through the coastal heads of Whangārei, this Northland adventure is a treat for runners and spectators alike. Covering what could be the toughest half marathon in the country, there is a multi-sport element that takes on the beautiful coastline in Waka Ama and mountain biking.
Summer Challenge, March 18, Tekapo
The entire summer series of the New Zealand women’s event in kayaking, coasting and compassless sailing around Lake Tekapo.
Volcanic epic, March 24, Rotorua
Solo or in pairs, mountain bikers traverse 200 km of the North Island’s hottest geothermal land on a multi-day adventure.
Mount Isobel Challenge, May 28, Hurunui
Push yourself to the limit as you drive through Hanmer Forest and up to the top of Mount Isobel. Runners can reward themselves with a post-race swim and hydrotherapy at Hanmer Springs hot pools and spa.
Spring Challenge, September 30, Hawke’s Bay and Te Anau
Part of New Zealand’s largest women’s adventure racing series, teams are led around the Fiordland and Hawke’s Bay courses in 3, 6 and 9 hour events. E-bikes and teams of all skill levels are welcome on these two world-class courses.
True West, December 1, 2022, West Coast
A brand new race for the New Zealand adventure calendar, the True West leads through Franz Josef with 3, 6, 12 and 48 hour events. The World Series Finals include junior events, “Achievable Adventures” for all skill levels and a serious challenge for those in need in the majestic Glacier Land. Then the Waiho Hot Tubs or Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools are a great place to soak up the body aches of this epic rainforest competition.
GeoQuest, January 20, 2023, Hawke’s Bay
The Australian GeoQuest Adventure Series stretches across the Tasman River with a 48-hour endurance adventure in Hawke’s Bay. Kick-off is scheduled for January 2023, there is plenty of time to train. Even if you are not competing, the GeoQuest will be one to watch.
“We expect there will be a great trans-Tasman rivalry, with the best Australian and Kiwi teams competing against each other,” said Chris Dixon, race designer and Wild & Co athlete.
Check alert level restrictions, immunization requirements and advice from the Department of Health before traveling. covid19.govt.nz