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New challenge . . . Adventure Racing Waitaki team members (from left) Twyla Kingan, Jason Hayman, Ed Finlay and Dan Burke get their gear together for a training session in Oamaru. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Spare time is a luxury few farmers have, so imagine juggling farm work with a relentless adventure racing training regime.

But Jason Hayman, Ed Finlay, Dan Burke and Twyla Kingan say strong support from their families, and being similar-minded, has helped them fit in preparation for the eighth edition of adventure race Godzone.

The four North Otago farmers have called themselves Adventure Racing Waitaki and are taking on the full-course 600km unsupported Pure event in Canterbury’s wilderness from March 10 to 17.

As the event gets closer, the nerves are starting to kick in.

“You know what you’re in for, but you still don’t,” Hayman said.

“You know you’re not going to get much sleep, you know your body is going to hurt, but you don’t know where you’re going – it’s that unknown.”

But they are up for the challenge – and they are excited.

Hayman and Burke are back for another crack at the event, having competed in the Fiordland chapter before, but it is Finlay and Kingan’s first time.

“Jase and I had quite disjointed teams last year, and it was blimmin’ hard getting everyone together, especially just for little half-day excursions .. so we wanted to create an Oamaru team,” Burke said.

Pursuing multisport while farming required some special adaptation and organisation skills to juggle everything.

It had meant a lot of early mornings, late nights and time away from family for team training.

“The fact that we’re all in the same sector working-wise means that we understand that things aren’t always going to go according to plan,” Finlay said.

“Lives get in the way a bit and matching it all up is never that easy.”

As much as it will be physical, Godzone will be a mental challenge.

The course will remain a secret until teams arrive in Akaroa for registration on March 9.

They will navigate their own way around the course using a variety of multisport disciplines including mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and pack rafting.

“You don’t have to be massively fit, you just have to be mentally tough and keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Hayman said.

“I like the unknown, I like to test my mind – and just being in the outdoors and seeing some really cool country, and being with a good group of people.”

It is the first time the adventure race, the largest of its kind in the world, has been held in Canterbury, and the eighth chapter has attracted a significant number of teams with high-profile multisport backgrounds.

Adventure Racing Waitaki is one of 70 teams entered across three racing categories: the full-course 600km Pure event and shorter-formatted 500km Pursuit and Prime events.

The field is expected to take anywhere between five and seven days to complete the journey.

The course can change considerably, from braided and meandering rivers to big, technical mountain ranges.

Their goal is to finish – and to finish together.

Last year, Hayman and Burke both lost team members to injury. While they carried on as teams of three, they finished unranked.

“There are so many weather events – anything can change. So the goal is to finish the whole course and that in itself is quite a mission,” Hayman said.

They had received generous sponsorship from several businesses around North Otago and were grateful for the support of the Oamaru Multisport Club and Onya Bike.

“Adair Craik has been really good to us. She’s just so supportive of anything multisport,” Hayman said.

You can follow Adventure Racing Waitaki’s training progress on their Facebook page.

From March 10 to 17, you can follow their live progress on the Godzone website.