RIVER WILD RAFT RUN TEAM CHAL­LENGE

Adventure - - SHOW CASE -

Ev­ery­one likes Novem­ber; it’s full of the prom­ise of sum­mer, it's usu­ally the start of warmer weather, and the be­gin­ning of the month also hosts one of our favourite events in our favourite places; the River Wild Raft N Run Chal­lenge, hosted by Raft­ing New Zealand in Tu­rangi.

Our Ad­ven­ture Girls team stum­bled across this event back in 2013 when we in Tu­rangi for a girl’s ski week­end away. Un­for­tu­natley the weather was bad and the moun­tain was closed so we de­cided to go raft­ing in­stead. It was the mid­dle of win­ter, it was cold and rain­ing, but we had so much fun. Our guide then told us about the River Wild Raft N Run Chal­lenge and sug­gested we come down in Novem­ber and com­pete.

The River Wild Raft N Run Chal­lenge be­gins at the Poutu Dam just south of Tu­rangi. Teams en­ter the wa­ter in 1 minute in­ter­vals and raft 16km down the Ton­gariro River through over 60 rapids. Once you reach Red Hut Bridge you drop your life­jacket, wet­suit and hel­met and run 8km along the Ton­gariro River Trail. Each team has their own pro­fes­sional raft guide who will help get you down safely then it’s up to you and your team to nav­i­gate the last 8km trail to the fin­ish.

Per­son­ally, I am not much of a run­ner, how­ever, this is one run I ac­tu­ally en­joy. The 8km fol­lows the Ton­gariro River as it me­an­ders its way back to­wards town. The track un­der­foot is gen­tle, and the time passes pretty quickly with such spec­tac­u­lar scenery on both sides; the river on your left and the rolling hills and farm­land on your right.

Our first time com­pet­ing in the River Wild Raft N Run Chal­lenge was 5 years ago and we have been com­ing back with our team of six women ev­ery year since. Our re­sults have var­ied, from av­er­age to dead last, but where we have placed has been unim­por­tant; it’s been all about the great vibe, the raft­ing, the scenery and the peo­ple.

So for the first few years we were not at all com­pet­i­tive and spent most of the time on the river telling sto­ries and laugh­ing at the ban­ter, how­ever that all changed last year. Our con­stant talk about the River Wild race had rubbed off and in 2017, our friends and fam­i­lies de­cided to join us and we ended up with four teams en­tered and the chal­lenge was set. It seemed we didn’t mind be­ing beaten by com­plete strangers, yet we were not go­ing to al­low our other friends to show us up. So last year, when we hit the river, we ac­tu­ally pad­dled and made a real ef­fort.

It’s quite in­cred­i­ble what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. De­spite the fact that two of our teams were made up of av­er­agely fit mid­dle-aged women, and we were com­pet­ing against mixed and all-men’s teams, our times on the river were pretty im­pres­sive, plac­ing 6th (1hr 36 min) and 7th (1hr 37 min) out of 20. Our two mixed teams placed 2nd (1hr 31 min) and 15th (1hr 39 min) off the river so we were pretty stoked.

Our mixed team con­tin­ued their ex­cel­lent form and fin­ished 2nd over­all (with a to­tal time of 2hr 36 min), with our two girls teams fin­ish­ing 9th (2hr 48min) and 10th (only 10 sec­onds be­hind) and our other mixed team made up the time on the run and fin­ished 6th with a time of 2hrs 45 min over­all. We cel­e­brated with beers and hot­dogs at the Raft­ing NZ head­quar­ters in Tu­rangi and talked about what we could have done bet­ter; our mixed team de­ter­mined to take out first place hon­ours the fol­low­ing year. Amaz­ing how we’d sud­denly all be­came so com­pet­i­tive.

The thing we love most about this event though is the place and the peo­ple. Tu­rangi is one of those hid­den gems of New Zealand and is of­ten over­looked as a des­ti­na­tion as it hides in the shadow of the more well-known ad­ven­ture town of Taupo. How­ever, Tu­rangi of­fers a unique en­vi­ron­ment and has a huge amount to of­fer the out­door en­thu­si­ast. There’s ex­cel­lent moun­tain bik­ing nearby and hik­ing trails a plenty. The Ton­gariro River is world renown for its fly fish­ing and is per­fect for kayak­ing and raft­ing too and then there’s ev­ery­thing Lake Taupo can of­fer.

TOP: The in­au­gral River Wild Raft Run Chal­lenge, 2013 ABOVE: With event or­gan­is­ers, Luke and Pianika Bod­ding­ton from Raft­ing NZ in Tu­rangi. RIGHT: Teams in ac­tion in 2014 BE­LOW: Team Miss-Ad­ven­ture on the fi­nal run sec­tion in 2015 BE­LOW RIGHT: The...

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