Richie McCaw is used to carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders, so a mountain bike is likely light in comparison.

The former All Black captain was among about 100 multisport athletes who took part in a 43km race around Lake Wanaka yesterday -- an event taking in running, biking, kayaking and abseiling.

McCaw completed the initial mountain bike stage as part of his training for the GodZone Adventure Race, to be held in Tasman in April.

The first day of a two-day event saw the elite field led by Daniel Jones of Whakatane and Alex Hunt of Tasman.

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Yesterday's stages, competed by both amateur and professional athletes, included a 43km/1200m elevation mountain bike ride through Minaret Station and a 9km 490m elevation off-road run over Rocky Mountain in which there was an abseil section.

Weather shortened the kayak leg with competitors battling half-metre waves across Glendhu Bay to the final trail run around Roys Bay, finishing at the Wanaka lakefront. Jones and Hunt finished in four hours, 49 minutes and 44 seconds -- a 23-minute lead heading into the second day.

McCaw is competing in the April adventure race which runs up to seven days, as one of the Cure Kids team alongside New Zealand Rugby Players Association CEO Rob Nichol, Wanaka adventure racer Sarah Fairmaid and former Blues player Ben Meyer.

The 550km race takes competitors through some of New Zealand's most spectacular and rugged locations, navigating checkpoints with just a map and compass. Team members, who have to stay with 100m of each other over the entire course, cover the distance tramping, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and rafting.