Ferry confounds Fa'avae

Last updated 12:58 19/05/2014
Simon Merry
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS: Nathan Fa’avae with children Tide, left, and Jessie, taking part in the Metlink City Safari.

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He will run up mountains and kayak rivers while orienteering - but Wellington's public transport system proved too tricky for one of the world's top adventure racers yesterday.

Nathan Fa'avae, of Nelson, was one of about 600 people taking part in Orienteering Hutt Valley's Metlink City Safari around Wellington.

Fa'avae is the captain of Team Seagate, which is described as the world's top team in adventure racing - an extreme form of orienteering in which competitions can last days and includes sports such as running, caving and kayaking.

But in yesterday's relatively easy orienteering race, Fa'avae, and his family team, the Honey Badgers, got off to a bad start.

"We got on the ferry thinking we were going to Seatoun and ended up at Somes Island."

After the unexpected stop on the island in the middle of Wellington Harbour, the ferry dropped them at Days Bay, where they caught a bus to Petone, meaning it was an hour before the family got to its first checkpoint.

The event was made up of six and three-hour races.

Checkpoints were spread across the Wellington region, from Hutt Valley to Porirua, to Island Bay and Seatoun.

The idea was for teams to get to as many checkpoints as possible, text messaging an answer back to base to show they had made it.

For example, to get checkpoint No 40, contestants had to answer how many steps lay between Orangi Kaupapa Rd and Garden Rd next to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

The answer - for those who don't want to test it themselves - is 193.

While Fa'avae and his family did the six-hour race, others like Eloise Persson and her sons Rafe, 9, and Asher, 11, went for the calmer three-hour race.

For checkpoint No 40, Eloise Persson waited at the bottom while her sons puffed up the steep steps.

"I wasn't going to run up those stairs."

Eloise's husband Richard and daughter Abbie, 13, won the six-hour family category, reaching 42 checkpoints to get 1555 points in a day that saw them travel from Churton Park to Seatoun to the Botanic Gardens then run down the hill to finish in Civic Square.

"We chose clumps where there were lots of high scores," Richard Persson said. Different checkpoints earned different points based on difficulty, meaning that while Fa'avae's family reached 45 markers they only scored 1080 points.

The overall winner for the day was Three's a Crowd - made up of Katherine Allan, Cameron Durno and Ben Sutherland - who earned 1840 points by reaching 51 checkpoints.

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- The Nelson Mail

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