Matt Lash ready to tackle the unknown in GODZone adventure race
27 Feb 2017
To some people, a week-long race across different disciplines and terrains would seem like a nightmare.
To Francis Douglas Memorial College's head of physical education Matt Lash, it's nothing short of exciting.
"I've played pretty much every sport there is and loved all of them but I think it's the full combination of absolute skill in a range of disciplines...with the whole massive mental challenge," he explains.
"For this race you can sleep as little or as much as you want, so you might be able to get two to three hours of sleep per 24-hour period. So it's that whole pushing your body to the limit and then finding out how you cope when you get there. A lot of it you can't train for, you just make it up as you go. But it's that full challenge and the feeling at the end when you finish."
Lash heads to Queenstown this weekend to take on the GODZone adventure race. Roughly a 500-kilometre expedition where the exact course and disciplines to be tested remain a secret until the teams of three take their marks.
"We know there will definitely be mountain biking, trekking, rafting, kayaking and abseiling or rope work at this stage, but there will be other things," Lash says.
"If things go well it's great. If bikes and bodies break it can be a world of hurt out there and you're all by yourself. There's nobody there to come and pick you up. There's no easy shortcut out, you've got to make your way there with your own power."
He competed in the race for the first time in 2016 and says he has one main goal in mind this time around.
"This year we're back for another crack to, I guess, do it better. Just to complete it is the main goal - to get through the full course."
Lash is one of the people involved in running the Taranaki six-hour adventure race, which has a category for TSSSA athletes.
"Adventure racing as a sport is growing. Everywhere around the country, numbers are up, we're expecting big entries this year.
"There's been a few schools who have done really well nationally and that seems to give them a pretty big reputation in the province.
"We've got some good keen juniors coming through and there's certainly no shortage of young people out there who are keen for it."
Lash says the region was ideal for adventure racing as it offered all sorts of terrain, and there was always a good level of competition to it, especially among the secondary school students.
"It's not just about numbers. There's a lot of kids out there to win which I think is important. It's okay to try and win something - we don't want to have a country full of people getting participation certificates now do we?"
When he returns from GODZone, which runs from February 25 to March 4, he dives straight into preparing for the Taranaki race, with a lot of background work lined up.
"You've got to visit farmers and landowners trying to explain what we're doing and ask if it's okay to use their land. Because the profile is growing a lot more people are aware of the sport and what it involves.
"There's a lot of good people out there willing to lend land or give you ideas on where you could go on the farm. There's a lot of groundwork there then working with local businesses and clubs. It's a bit of a team effort.
Lash says he expects a challenging course this year and weather could play a key part in the conditions the athletes would be competing in.
"There's going to be a good variety of terrain with some hills, some water and some mud for sure. The way the local weather's been going, we can guarantee some mud."