GODZone Chapter 7: catching up with Corrinne O’Donnell

The Chapter 7 edition of the epic event GODZone has  wrapped up for another year. Over 360 competitors from around the world took part in the adventure race based in Fiordland, amongst the awe-inspiring forested mountains, fiords, coastline, rivers and lakes.

The GODZone Pure event saw unsupported teams travelling approximately 550km across New Zealand’s wilderness for up to 10 days. Spring Ambassador Corrinne O'Donnell came in third place with team Tiki Tour in a time of 5 days 23 hours and 51 minutes. It was a phenomenal effort, we caught up with her over coffee and chatted about her experience, bikes cartwheeling down cliffs, and avoiding the dreaded foot rot!

First things first, how much sleep did you get during the race?!

Well on the first night we got dark zoned, which was a surprise, so we had to have 5 hours. The other nights we had 2 hours and on our last night we had 1 hour because we knew we were close to home.

What was your highlight?

Finishing! The scenery was also incredible! Particularly towards the end, unfortunately those who had to take the short course didn’t get to see a lot of that.

What was your lowlight?

Being wet for so long and not being able to get dry.

Any particularly funny moments?

I pushed my teammate down Percy Saddle by accident. He was helping me and then accidentally fell off the edge. He rolled 20m down the cliff and his bike cart-wheeled all the way down! We thought his brand new bike was gone! He had to climb all the way down to get it and when he found it, his bike was fine. No damage at all! It obviously wasn’t funny at the time, but we laugh about it now!

How were the team dynamics?

My teammates were a great bunch of guys. I think it’s mostly the team captains job, and he did an awesome job! Your team dynamics make or break your race, it’s definitely one of the most important parts of your race.


How much food did you eat?

We would eat every hour. We would have our food divided up into zip lock bags containing one hours worth of food. I ate scroggin, fresh food, Spring gels, and dehydrated meals (cold - there ain’t no hot water out there!). Pro tip - don’t go to the supermarket with your teammates because you’ll end up with the same sort of food, you want variety so you can swap food with your teammates when you get tired of eating a certain type of food.


What does it take to prepare for an event like this?

A lot of time. You spend as much time as you can to prepare.  It’s like if you had 2 days - you would spend the whole 2 days, if you had 2 weeks - you would spend the whole two weeks. It’s about spending all the time you can to prepare.


What does your training look like for GODZone?

It’s more about spending time on your feet and fun adventures on the weekend, it’s not as structured as training for something like Coast 2 Coast. I probably train for 15 - 30 hours per week.


What was your most useful piece of kit?

There are so many little things that make a difference. You think “Oh it’s only something little, it’s not that big of a deal”, but over an event that is that long, it makes all the difference! Calf guards / long compressions socks to protect your legs from getting too cut up, they are much more convenient than gators. A good mountain bike seat! Good hike-a-bike mountain bike shoes!


So, how did you avoid the dreaded foot rot that so many others got?!

A mix of vaseline, sudocrem, and talcum powder, along with dry socks. I would put cream on and change my socks every 6-8 hours throughout the event.


Any advice for someone wanting to attempt GODZone for the first time?

Spend a lot of time on your feet. In rugged terrain off track, not on trails. Do some local 24 hr and 12 hr events. Get used to your gear and learn what works for you. Practice riding with a map board on your bike, and covering ground with a heavy pack. Get your shoes dialled. Learn how to deal with mouth ulcers and chaffing. Figure out what is worth the extra weight to carry and what is not. The little things all add up when you are out there for a long time!

What an incredible event! Massive congrats to Corrinne for such an awesome result! Learn more about GODZone here.