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Longest running adventure race to test athletes over 24 hours

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Women outnumber men for the first time in the longest running adventure race in New Zealand - the ARC - being hosted on the Coromandel Peninsula this weekend (Saturday 16 February).

Seventy one teams totalling 230 competitors are entered into the gruelling ARC Adventure Race

Long and Short courses that will start in Whitianga and Kuaotunu respectively. Both races end in Kuaotunu.

Strict protocols to protect the forest from Kauri Dieback Disease will be carried out by the Spirit of Coromandel Trust, organisers of this weekend’s race which is into its 19th year this year.

So far 126 women and 104 men including 14 school teams are entered into two disciplines with a contingent of 50 from New Plymouth.

The ARC Long race starts from Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach at 7am Saturday with a 24km kayak that’s expected to take between two and three hours, followed by a 2-3 hour trek, another kayak, trek and raft, mountain bike and rifle shooting with a total time out in the field of between 15hrs and 24hrs.

Competitors cover some 120km of arduous Coromandel Peninsula terrain in what has become a favourite for many of the country’s supreme athletes.

Event co-director Keith Stephenson said checking the exit points for the kayaking section was an exciting activity with the huge swells pounding the east coast currently.

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The event is seriously competitive for some and definitely not for the faint hearted, but organisers say there’s no judgement in stopping for icecream at Kuaotunu’s major attraction - where the store sells ice creams labelled "the Kuaotunu killer".

"In fact competitors will be passing two or three stores at various places along this years course, so we’re advising them to pack some cash in case they need to buy themselves a cold drink or ice cream. There is no embarrassment to nipping into a store during an adventure race."

The short course - known as the ARC Express - starts and finishes in the small town of Kuaotunu and will take up to 11.5hrs and take competitors on a swim, trek, rafting and mountain biking as well as a rifle shoot.

Previous competitors have included Richie Macaw in the long course and wife Gemma racing the short course.

In 2018, Macaw’s team PWC kept up an unrelenting pace set by the local Thames team Crash Bandicoots as they took out their first ARC in a gruelling 15 hours 18mins starting and ending in Pauanui.

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