Almost 250 endurance junkies head to the Coromandel Peninsula next weekend for the 11th ARC Adventure Race on March 19 and 20. The Coromandel has long been considered one of New Zealand’s hidden gems, and the ARC Adventure Race will test some of New Zealand’s best adventure racers in the regions darkest and most remote areas.
The ARC 24 hour event has become New Zealand’s premier adventure race, with 2008 adventure racing world champions Team Orion Health having won several titles and will start as favourites again for the ARC race.
Competitors have the option of the feature 24 hour event, or 12 hour and eight hour options. For the third year in a row the ARC adventure race will also host a special category that strives to find the best New Zealand Special Services. Army, navy, air force, SAS, police, fire service and ambulance are all invited for what this year will be a fitting military type challenge.
Organisers have revealed the race will start and finish in Whangamata, but the actual course is kept secret until the night before the race. As such navigation and night racing play as big a part as the typical endurance challenges of distance and terrain.
Race organiser Andy Reid says this year’s ARC Adventure Race will offer challenges and variety not often seen in New Zealand. Disciplines and skills will include kayaking, river running and trekking, mountain biking, rifle shooting abseiling and a couple of high adrenaline mystery activities.
Reid says the mountain bike sections will be a highlight for competitors, while the kayak sections will be a highlight for spectators if the surf is up. But in the race for line honours he says some tough trekking sections and challenging navigation issues will make the biggest difference competitively.
Established in 1989, Adventure Racing is a team sport, usually of four with at least one woman, which combines traditional endurance sport disciplines such as tramping, running, kayaking and mountain biking, with challenging terrain and navigational and climbing skills usually more akin to major expeditions. Races can be between half a day and a week and run non-stop, with the route usually kept top secret until the night before.
The competition at this year’s ARC Adventure Race promises to be a four-way battle led by former world champions, Team Orion Health. The foursome of Brent Edwards (Rotorua), Anna Berthelson (Tauranga), Sam Clarke and Chris Morrissey (Whakatane) are firm favourites, but will face strong challenges from Auckland Team Nga Rakau of Mark Struthers, Isak Meyer, Louise Mark and Andrew Turnbull.
Andy Reid, however also points to Team Moa Adventure Racing, which along with well-performed endurance athletes Craig Newton, Emma McCosh and Mike Walker, also includes former Team Orion captain Wayne Oxenham, who has come out of retirement to head this talented dark horse team.
In total, 242 athletes from 80 teams will line up in Whangamata for the 11th ARC Adventure Race.
Organisers Andy Reid and Keith Stephenson are Coromandel residents and endurance sport enthusiasts who got together to form Adventure Racing Coromandel, an event company aimed at promoting adventure and endurance sports in their region. The result was a collection of five different events, all of which have become favourites with endurance junkies across the country. As well as the ARC Adventure Race they organise the Moehau Man Multisport Festival, the K2 Cycle Classic and the Great Kauri Run.