Introducing the Tavendale and Partners Godzone team

Pictured from left, Duncan Rutherford, Sarah O’Neill, Belinda McCone and James McCone.

Pictured from left, Duncan Rutherford, Sarah O’Neill, Belinda McCone and James McCone.

The Godzone adventure race is one of those crazy extreme adventure races and this year it is being held in Canterbury! Tavendale & Partners has got behind some hardworking Cantabrians who are taking up what seems like an impossible challenge.

 The non-stop race is held between 10-17 March 2019 and starts in Akaroa. 47 four-person teams are expected to take between five and seven days to complete the race. The teams navigate their own way around the course using a variety of multisport disciplines including mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and pack rafting. The competitors don’t know where they are going or even when they will receive the race maps. They make their own decisions about when to stop to sleep and eat.

 This is the second year the firm has had a named team in Godzone competition but this year there are some fresh faces – all from one of the practice’s farming family clients. Belinda and James McCone are being joined by Belinda’s sister Sarah O’Neill, and her brother Duncan Rutherford.

 Mark Dineen, a keen cyclist and one of the firm’s partners, is full of admiration for the energetic team the firm is sponsoring. “I’m a keen cyclist and do a bit of triathlon, but nothing this serious,” he said. “I couldn't contemplate doing the race myself, but it is good to be involved and we like to encourage people to get out into the great outdoors!”

 The Tavendale Godzone team obviously has spent a great deal of time in the great outdoors. Belinda, James and Sarah have done three 24-hour races previously, with Duncan completing his first one late last year. Belinda and Sarah have also done the Coast to Coast race about 15 years ago.

 Belinda participated in last year’s Godzone race, albeit somewhat reluctantly initially. “I got called in last year five weeks pre-race day when a woman broke her leg,” she recalled. “I was asked if I wanted to go in Godzone and I said ‘no’ and then thought about it and asked more questions, and then said ‘no’ again, but then the ‘yes’ came.”

 The team finished the 2018 race, held in Milford Sound, and while they didn’t grab any prizes, Belinda did catch the adventure race bug. “The day I got home we had our first team meeting. My brother and sister came over that night and we decided to go for it then.”

 The team has been already putting in a lot of training including a few 30 hour weeks. “We have religiously stuck to a training plan and we are pretty happy with how it has gone.”

 Training has included a 12 hour race in Twizel last weekend where they had the opportunity to practice all the challenging disciplines and were also able to do a mini-Godzone mock race in St Arnaud earlier in the year when six Godzone teams did a 36-hour training race. For that race however, they only had three team members. “My husband James broke his ribs falling off his mountain bike in the new year so he wasn't with us for that race, and he does most of the navigation,” said Belinda. The team were happy with their performance, and their improvement since. James is now fully recovered, which is just as well as you wouldn’t want to start this race nursing any injury.

 There is enough of a risk of injury in the race itself, but the team has the attitude of “what the hell, we are going to do it.”  Belinda hopes their training will help them avoid injury. “We have done quite a bit of training on rough ground, up mountains, down steams and not using tracks, and we are hoping that we have built strength and resilience.”

 Belinda says the team is relatively inexperienced at multi-day adventure racing, and therefore they don’t expect to win. “Our goals are to do the full course and finish with a ranking.”

 She thinks the biggest challenge for the team will probably be the family dynamics. “It is a mental game, and it is about knowing when to slow down and speed up,” she said. “The test is a mental and strategic one.” 

The team member’s history with Tavendale & Partners goes back some way and so they are delighted to carry the firm’s logo on their uniform. “We have got a family dairy farming business in Culverden, and while we started off farming together we have now branched off into our own little patches. Mark Tavendale worked with us a lot through that and my Dad also worked with Mark Dineen including when he was a stock agent up here.”

 Mark was keen to encourage the family in this extreme adventure race by sponsoring them. “It is a good mix for us with the other things we sponsor, such as cycling and show jumping,” he said. “We like to support the people who do the hard yards!"

 The race starts on Sunday morning in Akaroa, with Saturday being spent completing the registration, and attending briefings. The maps for stage one may be issued that afternoon. Just to get to the start line of the eight-stage race involves a lot of work sorting out gear and food. “In between each stage they tell us which of our three gear boxes we will need,” said Belinda. “We have to get all our gear in the right boxes so it is a bit of a logistical nightmare. If you stuff it up you might end up with no running shoes in the box that you get before a stage where you need them, or you haven't got any more batteries for your torch as they are in Box C and you have Box A!”

 Now the race is getting closer, Belinda did admit that everyone was “exceptionally nervous!” There is also a great deal of excitement and the whole firm wishes them all the best of luck.

 There is some team tracking information available on the event website so you can follow the progress of the Tavendale team here:

 Go Team Tavendale!