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  • Writer's pictureRob Preston

Team Go Fence share their experiences from Godzone Australia Chapter 1 - Coffs Coast

Team Go Fence went the extra distance to finish third in the inaugural GODZone

Australia adventure race held in the Coffs Harbour region in northern New South


The Golpine-sponsored team of Kieran Hickman, Andrew Jones, Tina Moore and

Simon Bloomberg crossed the finish line at 6.30pm on Wednesday almost seven days

of mountainbiking, trekking, rafting, kayaking and abseiling across sone of the

region’s steepest and most remote terrain. And if the race wasn’t gruelling enough,

Team Go Fence decided to make things just a little tougher for themselves by taking a

few wrong turns and adding another 20 or so kilometres to the 640km course that

included a leg burning 9600m of vertical climbing.

It was a good result for Team Go Fence who showed incredible determination to

overcome the obstacles that kept on coming right to the finish. The already brutal

course was made tough by the blistering hot temperatures and impenetrable Aussie

bush. The 170km mountainbike stage through the Chealundi Ranges coincided with

the hottest day of the week at 31 Degrees making it super tough while the 60km trek

over Mt Campian and through the Syndicate Trai and Promised Land to Yildaan

featured a wall of hostile scrub that reduced progress to a crawl. If you think New

Zealand’s Bush Lawyer, gorse and Matagauri are nasty, just try battling through their

much meaner Aussie cousins. The 32km mountaibike rogaine through the maze-like

forestry and mountainbike trails of Yildaan abd Orara was a mentally and physically

exhausting while the 100km mountainbike stage through smoky bush fires into

Platypus Flat would have been regarded as the Queen bike stage in any other

adventure race in the world. The fact that many of the teams had to pull out with

injuries, bike mechanicals and heat exhaustion was an indication of just how brutal

the course was. It really beat you up.

But it wasn’t all hard work and no play. The opening 18km ocean kayak stage from

Sawtell Beach just south of Coffs harbour was spectacular while the 8km packraft

down the Upper Nymboida River was exhilarating with several two metre drops and

dozens of rock garden rapids. A 67m abseil down a waterfall at Little Nymboida was

an adrenaline-junkies dream and a newbies nightmare while the 28km packraft on

the Nymboida and the 18km walk along the beach to the finish at Sawtell Beach were

truly spectacular. We also enjoyed our own whale watching tour as Humpback

Whales breached offshore during the trek Moonee Beach.

And then there were the snakes. Yep, we saw plenty including a massive python

sliding across the road during the 100km mountainbike stage causing us to take

serious high speed evasive action. By the end of the race even Jonesy, who was just a

little nervous about snakes was starting to get pretty relaxed about it all. In fact, the

Australian wildlife was one of the highlights of the race. We spotted heaps of

goannas, water dragons, freshwater turtles, kangaroos and wallabies and thousands

of brightly coloured birds. And despite the Australian outback’s hostile reputation we

got through the entire without a single bite from anything.

We also enjoyed the company of other teams early on the race before everyone

spread out and the generous welcomes from volunteers at the transitions. John at

Transition 9 who plied us with hot tea, bacon butties after the torrid 60km trek was a

life saver. All that was missing was a cold beer and a barbie. That would have to wait

until the finish.

But perhaps the biggest highlight was the way the team worked together to get

through the race. What we lacked in skill, we made up for in team-work, and

determination, and at times just pure bloody mindlessness which is of course what

you’d expect from a team that included three framers.

Once again thanks to Goldpine for their generous sponsorship and also to all our

families who have held the fort while we have been away in the hills having fun. Well,

it was kind of fun!

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