HANDS UP if you know what trench foot is.

Yes it's that condition a lot of World War II and World War I soldiers experienced. It's when your feet start rotting because they have been subject to wet and muddy conditions for too long.

The fact Hawke's Bay's former Central Districts cricket rep Michele Frey, her partner Nick Stillwell, Auckland-based former Hawke's Bay-ite Emma Mackie and Canterbury's Fiona Shanhun managed to avoid it was the difference between them finishing or not finishing the recent GODzone adventure race in the South Island.

"Stopping to sort any niggle at the very first sign of noticing anything niggly and finally at night boot and socks off to let your feet breath followed by more anti-fungal cream just before bed. Five minutes of footcare total a day saved us a $2700 helicopter ride out of the race," Frey said.


"It was an amazing experience ... the goal was to finish and we did that despite the fact we were all out of our comfort zone," Frey said as she reflected on the Fiordland National Park-based event which involved 470km of rafting, hiking, mountainbiking, kayaking and abseiling.

One of 20 teams in the pursuit version of the race, Pics Slipery Slope (their team name) finished 11th. They took seven days and eight hours and teams were allowed 10 days.

"We actually finished a day earlier than was planned and a lot of that was down to the tremendous input from our support crew," Frey said referring to former Hawke's Bay and Central Districts cricket rep Cath Atkins, the Canterbury pair of Barry and Julie Shanhun and another Auckland-based former Bay-ite Murray Ashcroft.

Frey, 36, was a New Zealand age group representative at last year's long distance world triathlon championships in Canada. She had completed at least 15 single-day adventure races but never anything like GODzone.

Stillwell has a background in rowing and swimming but very little long distance running. A severe bout of dehydration hit him after the first day.

"I thought we wouldn't make it ... it was really touch and go. We did an amazing recovery job on him ... he has such a big physique he needed plenty of fluids and food," Frey said.

A principal environmental consultant with Xyst, Frey said teams had to reach at least three different cut-off checkpoints within a certain time or they would be asked to finish. All four competitors had to stay with each other.

"When we made all of them I thought we might be able to finish. We had no major injuries but some of the other teams had some horrendous ones ... we saw competitors in wheelchairs at the finish line. Many of the cases it was trench foot," Frey explained.

All teams had a tracking beacon and Atkins said this came in handy for the support crew particularly when it came to sorting out meal times. Initially the team had planned to be technical with their meals but that plan was quickly abandoned.

"We went back to basics ,,, potatoes, boiled eggs, pasta, pizza and potato chips. I think I still lost about 5kgs," Frey said.

Atkins said there were a couple of occasions when the support crew was told the competitors didn't want what was dished up and they were able to go to the shop and get something else. The 80 teams in the pure version of the race weren't allowed to use support crews and only 20 of them finished the race.

"It was big mental game ... a different sort of mental toughness to what I've experienced in the past. We all felt it was worth the $6000 entry fee and we're all pretty keen to do it again in the future," Frey said.

"But no date has been set. We're all enjoying some time out," she added.

Nobody would argue they don't deserve it.