Contributed by Allysia Kraakman
March 12-14th saw Team Zeenya take to the Spirited Women - All Women's Adventure Race in stunning Northland. Where teams of 4 women trek, kayak and mountain bike while navigating a course in an epic location. All the while navigating to various checkpoints and an extra mystery activity.
Here is Allysia's take on the whole day.
I never used to be much into encouraging other women. Maybe it was the competitor in me, or maybe I just thought that I always needed to prove myself, or prove a point, maybe I didn't want other women to be better than me...but over time I have realised that we don't need to strive to be better, we need to understand our differences and spur one another on through encouraging each other to be the best possible version of ourselves.
So having the opportunity to be on Team Zeenya was more than just an epic adventure race, it was an opportunity to encourage all the amazing women out on the course.
Throughout the day we had to get to 27 checkpoints ("short" course) through various terrain - by kayaking, trekking (sounds better than walking) mountain biking and swimming. I asked the team just before the start if we needed a group chant - Jen said that it would probably end up being ‘get up Jen’...which was worth the laugh when we needed a pick me up throughout the day.
The day started with a short estuary crossing so we could pick up our kayaks on the other side - we had to take our packs off and carry them on our heads, meanwhile we got pretty saturated. There was no chance that we were staying dry, so we had to get comfortable with soaking shoes straight away! After around 40mins on the kayak and several collisions with other teams, we rinsed the sand from our shoes (very ineffective in salty water, whilst standing in the sand!) then we headed off towards our first mountain bike.
Having personally only ever cycled on footpaths or road cycling, heading on to a farm land I realised I had no idea what I was doing. Chloe gave me some quick pointers and I fumbled my way through the gears on my husbands bike. Sarah was mountain bike queen, whizzing up the hills and letting loose on the downs, meanwhile I'm squeezing both brakes so that I don't rip my zeenyas if I fall off (this was ACTUALLY what I was thinking). There was SO MANY HILLS! (I quickly realised I got confused with ‘short’ course and ‘easy’ course). Speedy Sarah was off her bike taking photos of every view possible (87 photos in total). We were so grateful for the opportunity to see another part of the country and Sarah's contagious joy for the whole thing had all of us laughing throughout the day. (Friday was the first time Sarah had been over the harbour bridge and that was pretty entertaining seeing her excitement for that too!).
After Chloe dropped her chain a few times and pushing our bikes up several hills later, we got to our next transition, where we dropped our bikes and headed off on our next trek, complete with several hills, hidden check points and many other zeenya lovers.
Several photos, checkpoints, “Get Up Jen’s” and what felt like climbing Mt Everest later, we were back at our bikes, heading to our mystery activity - a swim, where we had to solve a mystery word by memorizing letters that were anchored beneath buoys. The swim was pretty refreshing, though difficult with shoes and clothes on. I ended up floating around on my back with my feet in the air like I was in a bath while Chloe did most of the work.
After the swim, I thought, surely, we are nearly finished. We had been out for around 5 hours. The whole time I thought the short course was a 6hr course, I find out later that night that it was actually a 3hr course, that took us 7. When Chloe had advertised a couple of spots on the team, I'm sure the 6hrs were mentioned in there somewhere, so I figured that's how long we would be out for. But we still had another trek to go after dropping our bikes once again.
We headed on our hike up some more hills and encountered a long course group taking a photo of themselves at the top of a hill, so Chloe runs up the hill and offers to take a photo of them. In return they take a photo of us and one of us pulls a phone from our pocket. The ladies in the other team start vibing over our shorts and one asks "are those Lululemon?" If you've ever had to see someone swallow their thoughts and respond with grace, this was Chloe's moment. I had to stifle my laughter as we raved about the shorts and they asked if I was their marketer. I really hope those ladies buy a pair, because they even touched the fabric, while it was on us!
We took the easy route downhill, I thought, surely this is the last of the hills (contours on map were deceiving!)... it wasn't. Even though we could hear the finish line, we had to loop back around another headland before heading along the beach to the finish. While looking for our next checkpoint, realising we had gone the wrong way, it seemed quicker and easier to jump a nearby electric fence, than to go back downhill and around then back up hill again. Chloe takes the lead as I hold her up. She successfully places one foot over, then KAPOW - she hits the live wire, falls back onto the grass, I get shocked through her, let her go because she's shocking me, then she gets back up and started climbing again, more determined than ever to get over the fence. I'm still thinking, is this the best option, and then she's already over, running off to get our card punched at the checkpoint, leaving the three of us to figure out how to climb the fence without restarting our hearts.
Heading back down another hill, we have three checkpoints to go, Speedy Sarah was still as enthusiastic as ever, Jen and I were quietly persevering, and Chloe was trying to hold in her competitive spirit. To be honest, I was getting highly irritated that there were so many hills in the short easy course, and completely amazed with all the hundreds of women that were pushing themselves through this event.
We finally find the last checkpoint (probably due to the fact that a boy no older than 8 was showing everyone where it was), then we head to the beach for the mandatory finish line run. We didn't run the entire course, but we ran the beach where we the spectators were, and basked in the glory as we climbed the dunes to the finish line.
It was an absolutely amazing experience that I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, the new friends made, the laughs and what the heck moments, but I can’t wait to do it all over again.