Sign up for the Spring Challenge to beat the post ski-season blues.
By Cat Pattison.
We're stoked to have Nathan & Jodie Fa’avae exploring the ski areas with the Chill Pass this season. In this feature by Cat Pattison we hear about their adventure race, the Spring Challenge, an awesome event to do post-winter.
Ladies, do you feel a sense of loss when the ski season ends and need another way to get those fresh-air endorphins circulating your snow-fit body?
There are two excellent ways to achieve an off-mountain high – the annual Spring Challenge women’s adventure races held in the South Island and North Island. Every year they change locations and this spring they will be held in Westport (September 29) and Taupo (October 27).
The brainchild of five-time adventure racing world champion Nathan Fa’avae and his wife Jodie, the Spring Challenge began in 2007 and is now one of the gems of the New Zealand’s adventure racing scene. The super-popular events see up to 450 teams of three women take part in adventures that include rafting, mountain biking, hiking and navigating.
The three women - and for the first time, four-woman teams have been included in the Taupo event - do the entire course together, traveling through the stages as a unit. This means it is not a relay race, where different team mates do different stages - in adventure racing, the whole team does every stage.
It’s like getting your favourite crew together to heading off into the mountains to enjoy your Chill Pass - you share the whole experience from travelling to the event, to the challenge of the day out in the hills and finally, relaxing afterwards and reflecting on how it all panned out.
It’s a good idea to choose your team mates carefully and make sure you have similar goals on roughly where you want to finish in your category. Also, that you share the same ideas around how much time you all have within your lifestyles to commit to training.
The Spring Challenge events cater to all abilities and you can chose between 3, 6 and 9-hour options, which have different age-related categories within them. There is also a Schools category, where the up-and-coming adventure racers can battle it out.
Last year the Spring Challenge events also added a Corporate Challenge category. It is a great way to get your co-workers together, enjoy team bonding and hit your boss up to pay the entry fee!
The first step of doing an adventure race is having an appetite for adventure and let’s face it most skiers and riders are hungry for it! The bonus is that you and your girl crew will be fit from a season storming down your favourite mountains. You just need to factor in a bit of time in the mountain bike saddle, brush up on your navigation skills and do some push-ups to get your guns going on for the rafting section.
There are training programmes available on the Spring Challenge website for each category. It is unlikely the guides will work exactly for you in terms of the daily activity, but the aim is to give you an idea of the structure and the time involved in training for the 3, 6 or 9-hour options. If you are doing close to the recommended time each week, you’ll be well prepared for the event.
It’s important to check the gear list on the website and make sure you have, or can borrow the equipment required for the event. Some years you will also need a support crew - one to two people who can drive a vehicle around the course area, meeting you at various points to resupply and change equipment. This depends on the course design and location, as some years the event is 'self-supported', where you don't require a support crew.
The Spring Challenge events are renowned for bringing together a whole community of active, like-minded women. The atmosphere from sign-in, through race day and on to the awards breakfast the day after, is one of camaraderie. Sure, it is a race and some teams will be going hard for a podium result but many teams are just out to have an adventure and enjoy a weekend away with their girls.
Because navigation is a factor, each year the Spring Challenge has a brand new course in a different location, so even for the regular participants, it's always refreshing and exciting, plus there's not a big advantage for teams who are newcomers to the sport.
This year’s events are sold out (the South Island event literally sells out in minutes each year) but keep an eye on .springchallenge.co.nz for announcements about next year’s locations. Entries open on April 1st each year.