|"JAFAS" - surrounded by 49 South Island teams we decided to be Auckland proud|
We were keen from the outset, and with cheap flights appearing through the woodwork there was no excuse. Christchurch for one weekend seemed extravagant, but sometimes in life you need to be impulsive. This was one of those times. Coated in a crunchy red shell and loaded full of chocolate and Powerbar, Team JAFAS stepped out of the bus into our much-awaited mystery location: Lake Coleridge.
|Lake Coleridge appears...|
Saturday morning, 50 teams in flourishing and hilarious costumes were deposited with maps on the road-side just over Porters Pass. Our first mission was to navigate ourselves to the Hash House nearby Lake Coleridge. Hash house... a special woolshed churning out an eternal supply of food thanks to some special volunteers. A constant flurry of food appeared... hot lasagne, fresh pizza, chunky soup, warm muffins, coffee, cereal, sandwiches... this was our main driving source as we collected the first 16 checkpoints hidden in boggy streams, under thick matagouri scrub, rocky outcrops on scree slopes, and generally in the most difficult and awkward locations.
|White peaks in the distance feed the Rakaia River - the northern strains of the Southern Alps|
But our rewards were in the form of spectacular Canterbury scenery, new vistas appearing around each corner. On the dry scree tops the autumn sun was scorching, and after the opening fanfare of costumes wore off we soon found ourselves peeling off awkward kid-sized helmets, James packed away his straw sack, and Helen itched at her face paint. All thoroughly worth it though. Our self-inflicted inconvenience seemed insignifcant compared to carrying a giant paper-maché Donut on your shoulders as one pair impressively pulled off. Delicious.
One of the highlights was surely the arising of the supermoon - a full fifteen percent closer - the glowing round slowly revealed itself from hiding beyond the Craigieburn Range. Our shadows were tossed across the tussockland at the low moon angle, so bright that our head torches were mostly useless except for clue-searching. So we kept the moon as our guide as we carried on with the never-ending mission... into twelve hours of night.
|The peregrine moon comes out to play|
|Jafa helmets made excellent bowls|
|11:30pm - heading out for Leg #3|
|The 20 hour freakout face|
|Fog and sleet in the early hours, Sylvie powers on|
|Celebrating the coming of dawn!|
Its always a special experience, witnessing the slow arrival of dawn. Although fog delayed the 7am rise, it was the same fog that kept us relatively warm all night stalking the fields. We were prepared for snow, almost hoping for snow, giving full respect to the potentially freezing Canterbury high country. Sunday morning was a different story. After a brief scoffing session of cold porridge and hot coffee (anything tastes good after a hungry night), we emerged into a glorious mid-morning arena.
|Sylvie lining up the map with the features|
We came into the competition with low hopes of competing, but this changed suddenly when we realised we were holding 8th place. With little over two hours left to salvage as many points in Leg 4 to hold our position, we dug deep and flung ourselves at four more controls: all or nothing. The mood was tense, we needed to be swift and navigate accurately, no messin' about. One eye on the compass needle, one eye searching for the clue, you can imagine the nerves...
|Stumped in the crucial final minutes...|
|Big country - steep scree slopes crumble away from the ridges|
AUTC T'Walked into the woolshed proud, 23 hours 39 minutes after the starting stapler had set us charging all those hours ago. For Helen & I, this was our first 24 hour endurance event, something that had seemed huge and daunting in theory. James & Sylvie shared stories of blisters, accidental sleep-ins, midnight gut hurlers and more - obviously we were enticed to put our feet to an honest twenty-fourer. It was with huge grins that we four slept on the pebbly yard waiting for the bus, baking in rich Canterbury sun.
|Each colour represents a different leg of the journey and a quick feast at the hash house|
Check out the results from T'Walk 2012 here. We were stoked to score 2nd in the student team section and 9th overall. The sleep deprivation made the extra difference, although we severely paid for it in the week to follow... T'Walk 2013 - we'll be back!