Taking on my first Adventure Race

Sometimes the answer to the question is 'yes' 

and you can work out the details as you go. 

(Contributed by Katie Potter of Christchurch) 

Early in 2024, Zeenya posted to giveaway an entry to the short course of Spirited Women - All Women's Adventure Race in Cromwell. So when my name was pulled out of the hat, the answer was yes! It was then a matter of logistics but I wasn't giving up the chance to give this a go. 

On Saturday 10 February, the day before my 48th birthday, I stood at the top of a hill at Carrick Winery in Cromwell, surrounded by 1300 other women, ready to start the Spirited Women Adventure Race. By my side were three of my friends: Di from Wellington, Abby from Christchurch, and Cara from Cromwell, all of us clad from head to toe in colourful Zeenya outfits making us feel like we could do anything.   I was a little nervous, having never done an adventure race before and having no idea what to expect. Thankfully both Abby and Cara were experienced, and were happy to help lead the way for myself and Di.

After a ten second countdown we were off. Our team began at a leisurely pace, remembering our vow not to run despite it being a race, a matching set of Zeenya quadruplets embarking on our adventure. We were armed only with a map and a punch card, needing to navigate the region to find thirty-seven controls: hole punches that we could only locate by following the map and using our wits.

It was impossible to simply pick another team to follow, as there were short, medium, and long courses, and the times each team started were staggered. This resulted in the entire area around the vineyards, Kawarau River, and Clutha River being covered in women running, walking, cycling, and kayaking about like a chaotic and excitable hive of worker bees, basking in the pleasant Otago summers day.

Well, until about halfway in, when we had just gotten off our kayaks and onto our bikes and the weather decided to turn, the temperature quickly dropping as rain plummeted down onto us.

Despite the cold we pushed on, cycling throughout wineries, mountain bike tracks, down the roadside, and through the bush. We arrived at the Bannockburn Sluicings, an almost alien landscape left behind from the goldmining days, quarries and pinnacles carved into vertical cliff faces and twisting dirt tracks bordered by thousands of loose rock and boulders. This was the site of a rogaine that took us the better part of two hours, forced to abandon our bikes as we hiked up and down the uneven terrain in the search for half of the controls squeezed into the 3.5km looping track.

Thankfully our next stop was a mystery activity, and one that was sorely needed - wine tasting!

Each member of our team had to separately drink and correctly identify a type of wine, and then come back together to compare our thoughts to decide as a team which wine we thought was which (I got a chardonnay). After that little pick-me-up, the weather cleared up and became beautifully sunny and warm, just in time for our second mystery activity, which was a brief frantic swim against the swift rapids of the Kawarau river followed up by a peaceful float to an inlet where we waded out of the river to pick up bonus points for the team.

Dripping wet and starting to tire at around the five hour mark, our team then had to tackle the most grueling part of the race so far - cycling all the way back up the hills we had so much fun wandering down that morning. Exhausted, and almost on the highest gear of my bike, I was tempted to give up and walk my bike up the rest of the hill, but all the other women who had already finished were at the top cheering us on. It gave me the sorely needed motivation to finally crest the hill and arrive at what we thought was the end, now that we were back where we had started.

It turned out we still had one or two more controls to get - but this time we got to go screaming down another hill on our bikes, full-tilt between the vast rows of grapevines, feeling like a little kid breaking all the rules. Definitely the highlight of the whole race for me!

After punching the last hole in our card, we dropped off our bikes, linked arms, and did our only running of the whole course: the last five metres across the finish line.

Despite the fact that we had fully prepared to take far longer than we did, to the point of packing head torches, we ended up finishing in a cool five and a half hours. For my first ever adventure race, I wasn’t expecting to have a good time AND get a good time, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It really was awesome to take part in an event with 1300 other empowered women being kick-ass, not to mention the seemingly unending comments and compliments on our colourful Zeenya-clad bums!   

 Thank you to Zeenya for running the competition that allowed us to take part, look and feel great while doing so, and especially just in time for my birthday. The entire day truly embodied what Zeenya is all about, and why I love the brand so much: being bright, bold, adventurous, and active, no matter what your fitness level or body type is. 

The 2025 Spirited Women - All Women's Adventure race is in historic Clyde. For more information on it check out their website

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