Andrea Peebles joined a team of strangers only 6 days before GODZone Adventure began. We caught up with her for a little Q&A to get a little more perspective on how this all transpired and her thoughts post race.
You joined a team of strangers less than a week before GODZone…how did that happen?
A week and a half out from the race on the GODZOne Facebook page was a post from the Hill Billys team urgently requiring a female competitor as theirs was no longer available due to a family bereavement. I eagerly responded and with just 6 days notice was selected for one of the toughest Adventure Races in the World. It was then a mad rush to ensure I obtained all the equipment required for the race, but more importantly had to put work on hold and make my way from Brisbane, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand; to complete the race with 3 strangers!
What was the best thing about joining a team so quickly?
No expectations, no assumptions, no pressure; the unknown, the curiosity, the intrigue, the added challenge and excitement. I knew very little about these guys before the race except they were in their 30′s-40;s came from Canterbury, had families and 2 of them had completed the Coast to Coast and one was a ‘tough as old boots’ Hunter. I knew that I’d find all about them during the race, so left everything else until (the day before) the day! The guys were fantastic and their families were even better! Warm, welcoming and hugely supportive, and as in outsider coming in, this really added to the awesome experience.
What was the worst part of joining a team so quickly?
Handling basic team admin, duties, roles and race day to day management. A lot of our challenges were issues that could’ve been prevented had we known more about each other. This was along the lines of the importance of regular, open and honest communication between us all. Not one of us had completed a race over 11 hours, the guys had never completed an Adventure Race and these were tough, determined, Kiwi Men with the mindset of ‘suck it up and just carry on.’ For example I had experience in proper medication and nutrition during endurance events and believe our additional rests due to self induced illness would have been avoided if we’d discussed the correct procedures for which I was knowledgeable about. So communication (especially about how the guys were feeling) was very minimal (coming from a females perception at least!), and when things were brought up, it was often a little too late.
Experience in all the disciplines was also a challenge. Some of the team had never drafted on a bike, ridden a Mountain Bike down hill, one was an unconfident swimmer and there was very little rafting or white water experience. So until it became apparent, it was difficult in determining everyone’s strengths and weaknesses which when incorporated with the communication challenge, made it feel like 4 individuals with the same aim, rather than a team of 4. But it certainly added to the adventure of the race.
How did the team do overall?
Out of 41 Teams we were ranked 30th, so was very pleased with that result!
I was the only one in the team with any adventure racing experience (and that was only 5 short races under 5 hours in duration), so with no combined expedition length know-how or overnight racing experience, the team did extremely well.
Talking to a number of the other teams post race, we slept almost twice as much as them (all nights except one getting at least 5 hours sleep) and ate extremely well as every main meal was a fire on the JetBoil. So we slept and ate well for GODZone standards!
We ended up getting short coursed whilst out on the canoe on the Hurunui River as we missed the check point by 2 hours and therefore decided to the camp the night at Hurunui so the guys’ families could see us finish at a decent time the following day.
Will you be racing with this group again now that you have GODZone under your belt?
Although I’d love to see the guys and their families again, I doubt we will race together again as I believe for the guys this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. Also we do live in different countries.
However for me, any opportunity I can get to race again I will take. If that means racing again in a team of strangers with no team building preparation, I’m happy with that. However, my next GODZone I want to really see what my body and mind is capable of, which will mean finding a great team, training hard together and aiming to get onto the podium.
What was everyone’s race experience?
As I mentioned above, pretty much next to nothing!
I was the most experienced Adventure Racer in the Team (which the term “experienced” is loosely used) as I had got into racing a few months earlier and had only completed 5 sprint races). Three of us had completed the Coast to Coast (280km Multi-sport Race in NZ) but no one had raced through the night for over 24 hours where you decided where and when you take your breaks and sleeps. But the lack of experience couldn’t deter our determination, especially as it’s your attitude that determines your altitude. We were all determined, hardened, resourceful, and we weren’t going to give up!
What made you think you could actually finish GODZone without preparing for it?
Whilst I hadn’t trained for GODZone specifically, (not much preparation can occur in 6 days) but I was fit, strong and most importantly had total belief in my abilities that I would get through it.
It wasn’t the first time I’d done a crazy adventure off the cuff. My most recent was when I decided to cycle solo from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England on an old bike that cost $140. Although it was summer, it still snowed and my little tent that I pitched on the side of the road didn’t quite cut it! I warmed myself up by using hand driers in bathrooms of villages I rode through, even getting so desperate I padded myself with newspaper for insulation. It actually worked a treat along with the tin foil on my feet! So whilst this was a little more self inflicted, I knew that this experience would put me in good steed for dealing with some of the toughest terrain and weather New Zealand can throw at you. I love being outside my comfort zone and challenging myself to bigger and better things, and therefore I live by two sayings “The body will go where the mind wants it to” and “The magic of life exists outside your comfort zone.” So taking on GODZOne with 3 strangers on 6 days notice took me outside of my comfort zone, so I was super excited for the experience. I recently set up a business RE-IGNITE LIFE, which aims to help people tackle fears and doubt in achieving their dreams and goals. In achieving a big goal (such as competing in GODZone) you walk away with benefits that can never be taken away from you. And being true to myself, my business and my values, this was one of the reasons why I felt I just had to put my hand up to compete at GODZOne.
Do you have any other impromptu adventures planned in 2014?
I am absolutely certain some adventures will pop up un-expectantly that I will jump into head first. I have actually looked ahead and am now training for GEOQUEST, a 48 hour Adventure Race in NSW which I’ll complete with the Tiger Adventure team in June. I’m also being trained by Matt Murphy, the star of the ESPN TV Series Search4Hurt in Obstacle Racing. We are preparing for the Aussie Championships (both the 10km and 24 hour course) and hopefully heading to America to take on the World Championships later in the year. This is a particular challenge for me as I’ve only ever completed in one Obstacle Course (London Tough Mudder) and this was in a very social manner, and to be ready for the world championships in September will mean going on a very exciting and challenging journey!
What was your favourite moment during the race?
I don’t really have a single favourite moment, but the amazing radiant, sparse, isolated beauty of the landscape we were racing through formed the backdrop of many great experiences.
However, there was one event during the mountain bike section that was a key enabler of our team and turning point of how we achieved what we did. We had set off to bike along Molesworth Station at 430am and the temperature was absolutely freezing. It was not helped by having wet shoes so they were so cold it felt like someone had clamped their teeth down on my toes – painful just doesn’t cut it! However at around 630am the sun started to rise. The heat it brought along with the stunning colours and scenery was inspiring. It was hard not to be awe struck and moved by such incredible scenery backed by a deep clear blue sky. The contrast between the cold and sore, and the warm and beautiful was intense, it energised my body making me feel like I had so much energy and excitement and felt so grateful to be part of the race. But this was also a time where one of the team was struck down with crippling cramps and zapped of energy and we all faced a tough decision to either stop or keep pushing on. Feeling invigorated I urged him to allow me to tow him so as a team we could keep going. After I got him on a tow rope, the team felt united and able to share our strengths and weaknesses; but it also made me personally feel strong, purposeful and proud to be able to assist the way in which I did.