Nayland teacher pushes the limits in Fiordland

One of Nayland’s talented outdoor education staff, Mr. Ashley Whitehead, had the adventure of a lifetime this March when he took part in the GODzone adventure race. The race stretches over the course of 4-10 days and consists of multiple legs of non-stop mountain biking, kayaking and trekking. Competitors enter as a team of four, […]

One of Nayland’s talented outdoor education staff, Mr. Ashley Whitehead, had the adventure of a lifetime this March when he took part in the GODzone adventure race.

The race stretches over the course of 4-10 days and consists of multiple legs of non-stop mountain biking, kayaking and trekking. Competitors enter as a team of four, usually sponsored by a company and race together for the full course, with breaks taking as little as 15-30 minutes.

This year, Mr Whitehead’s team was Team Swordfox, as it has been for the past 6 GODzones. That is thanks to their supportive sponsor Swordfox, a design and marketing company in Queenstown.

Team Swordfox placed a remarkable first overall in this year’s race, beating competitors from across New Zealand and the world.

The 2018 race took place in Fiordland, a place that Mr. Whitehead knows well. “I actually grew up in Te Anau where the race started, so that made it a bit more special for me”. He thinks Fiordland is the ultimate adventure racing destination – “It’s big and rugged and steep” – and he says it was great being back there.

Although returning to his hometown and surrounding area was beautiful, this year’s race was more challenging than many previous years. It took the team 5 1/2 days to complete, and there were many difficult moments. “You haven’t slept for two or three days, and things start going wrong”, he said.

Despite this, Mr. Whitehead says that these moments are some of his favourites. “You rely on your teammates and the gear that you’ve got and your skills and the decisions you can make to have a really cool experience.”

By student reporter William Irvine