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A Spring Challenge

29 October 2019

Words: Anja McDonald
Photos: Ben Gibson

Love riding your bike, but love it more with friends? Feel like you should get out more over the winter months but seem to have misplaced your motivation? What about exploring new places and mastering new skills? Yes..? Well the Spring Challenge event might just be for you! But there’s a catch… you've gotta be a woman.

Team Juliana - Robin, Bob and Anja.

Mid-transition smiles.

Anja bike-ready.

Spring Challenge is one of a growing number of all-women’s adventure races around the country. Three and four person teams battle it out over 3hr, 6hr or 9hrs. The event combines rafting, mountain biking and orienteering in remote and beautiful locations around New Zealand. Sure it’s a race, but the underlying purpose is to get more women outside adventuring, bike riding, honing their navigation skills and having a blast in the outdoors.

Heading out, and up.

In the recent Whanganui edition I was part of the Juliana team, along with fellow Ground Effect Revolutionary Robin Pieper and long time MTB legend Brenda 'Bob' Clapp. We had a ball in the beautiful Whanganui hill country, flexing our navigational muscles, ripping round on our bikes, slithering down gorges and splashing down rivers.

Spring Challenge showcases the beauty of places and the local hospitality. Whanganui was no different - in the half light of dawn, as we waited for the 6am start gun, we all were given a Mihi Whakatu (welcome and blessing) from the local kaumatua before we went out on our way around the landscape. And to celebrate the day’s end at the finish line, we were served up a hangi the local community had prepared for all the participants.

Bob, Robin and Anja 4th over the line (9hr category) by the narrowest of margins.

So if you need a goal, a tangible excuse to get outside and a plan adventures, Spring Challenge could be just the thing for you!