“Tougher than taking on the All Blacks!” Stefan Terblanche admitted at the end of a long weekend training with the Merrell squad in Knysna for the 2018 GODZone event in New Zealand.
The former Springbok has competed hard at the highest level of rugby…for 80 minutes at a time. His first expedition race next month could see him and his team battling it out for 10 000 minutes, with no halftime for ad breaks.
Expedition Adventure Racing is the ultimate sport of sports where teams of four athletes race together unsupported through the wilderness, non-stop for days on end; mountain biking, trail running and paddling to checkpoints marked on a map over distances of around 500km. As much as they must be physically fit, the navigation skills, strategies and mental fortitude of the team are what make the strongest competitors.
The New Zealand GODZone Pure event is considered one of the toughest endurance races in the world and this year’s edition from 1-10 March is set in spectacular Fiordland, down at 45⁰ South, with a landscape dominated by the steep snow-capped Southern Alps and deep fiords carved by glaciers. The average rainfall can be 8000mm per year and most of the lakes are considered inaccessible with no roads or tracks. The winning team is predicted to finish in 6 days with the course open for 10.
“Stefan is fiercely competitive and a perfectionist. It was inspiring to watch him over the weekend, completely out of his element but persevering with an indominable intensity.” Says captain Graham Bird, himself a former top canoeist and veteran of 21 expedition length races. “He’s a powerhouse and will only get stronger. That’s almost frightening!” The rest of the team is made up with experienced racers Grant Ross and Jane Swarbreck.
Team Merrell is consistently rated amongst the top ten in the world and a regular on the podium at international and local events. They have an army of armchair adventurers who follow their multi-day races avidly via the online live tracking system which shows teams moving as dots on a map, complemented by incredible footage and photography. The dots get encouraged and shouted at and redirected onto a better route from thousands of screens and it’s not uncommon for supporters to admit getting even less sleep then their favourite team during a week-long race.
This year’s event has come with sage advice from the Race Director. "Mentally you need to prepare yourself for something epic; be patient, expect it to be tough going at times and plan for a couple of things in particular – the weather and looking after yourself."
The team is supported as always by their main sponsor Merrell, as well as Black Diamond, Island Tribe, Ocean Eyewear, Extreme Lights, ButtaNutt Spreads, Racefood, Giant, Fluid Kayaks, BackCountry Cuisine and Nuun.
Team Website: www.advaddicts.com
Team FB: Merrell Adventure Addicts
Event Website: www.godzoneadventure.com
Live tracking site will be announced just before the race.
Photo Credit: LizaMay Images