Team Avaya have clocked up their fifth win of the world's largest expedition adventure race this morning when they pedalled across the GODZone finish line in Rotorua.
The foursome, Nathan Fa'avae, Chris Forne, Sophie Hart, and Stu Lynch, arrived at Waipa Hub in the Whakarewarewa Forest at 7.55am, after five days of adventure racing across 666km of some of New Zealand's most diverse wilderness terrain.
The immensity of what the team had achieved was not lost on team captain Fa'avae.
"The start of the race was a bit interesting because of Covid level 2 teams were set off in intervals, and we were in the last wave. We just did our own thing on that first bike stage and were quite surprised to reach the front of the field pretty quickly," he said.
"I guess that was a promising sign early on that we were not even trying to catch up. From there on, we were consistently moving pretty quickly through most of the disciplines, which got us into an excellent position to really try and break from the front pack as early as possible."
The world-class team has an impeccable track record at GODZone, winning every chapter they have raced in together.
This includes Chapter 1 - Milford Sound, Chapter 2 - Mt Cook, Chapter 3 - Kaikoura, Chapter 4 - Wanaka, and Chapter 9 - Rotorua.
Forne has won an additional three GODZone's racing as the captain of other teams, including Chapter 5 Tasman, Chapter 7 Fiordland, and Chapter 8 in Canterbury.
GODZone race director Adam Fairmaid said it was an incredible feat and a well-deserved win.
"Avaya is world-class in every sense and the true champions of the adventure racing world.
"They don't give anything away to the other teams and consistently race their own race. Over the years, they have set a very high standard of racing that no other team has come close to matching.
"It's a privilege to watch this team come back together and win GODZone again, especially at the very first North Island GODZone," Fairmaid said.
A crowd of well-wishers met the winning team at the GODZone finish line this morning, including Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and Rotorua deputy mayor Dave Donaldson.
Meanwhile, a classic battle was taking place between Richie McCaw's team iSport and Queenstown's Tiki Tour team for second and third.
Both teams had been neck and neck throughout the adventure race, with McCaw's team first off the 53km Lake Taupō kayak stage this morning.
"This will come down to who has the most horsepower and desire to take the second spot," Fairmaid said.
"Both have raced well and given it everything. There are quite a few checkpoints on the Lake Ohakuri stage between Taupō and the finish line, which could be tricky when travelling in a packraft.
"Any mistakes there would be costly at this stage of the game."
At time of publishing the second and third places had not come in.