Six months ago multisport athlete Kate Callaghan's main priority was organising the construction of a house she and her partner are building in Taupo.

A phone call to a Hokitika plumbing company to inquire about a tap fitting she saw at a home show put paid to that.

The plumber selling the taps turned out to be fellow multisport athlete Duncan Hamilton, who, with Callaghan and two other athletes, took top honours in the 2004 Southern Traverse a decade ago.

One thing led to another. The pair ended up deciding to get the team together again to test their mettle in the gruelling South Island multisport challenge known as Godzone.

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They contacted the other two original team members and, although one was unavailable, roped in new member, veteran multisport and adventure racer Neil Jones, to make up the team.

The five-day multisport race takes place in mountainous terrain and this year was held in the Kaikoura/Hanmer Springs region from March 8 to 14.

Godzone is part of an international world adventure series that annually attracts about 40 teams of four - three men and one woman - from New Zealand and around the globe. All team members have to complete the event together and the majority are aged in the mid to late 30s. At 53, Kate - who won gold at the 1996 world duathlon champs - was also the oldest woman in the event.

Kate, who is dean of land based studies at Tauhara College, had a setback after fracturing her knee skiing in September and was unable to start training properly until December.

Over the school holidays she was able to incorporate training with her holiday plans to gain some base fitness and get used to doing "long stuff".

That included kayaking around Lake Taupo for three days and a number of 16-hour tramps.

After she returned to work Kate used Mt Tauhara as a training venue two to three times a week, getting her time from the car park to the summit to a creditable 36 minutes.

She says no amount of training could prepare anyone for the real thing.

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"It was long and hard and at the end there's wasn't a limb on my body that wasn't bruised or battered."

The ordeal started on day one when she slipped on a rock carrying her mountain bike up an 800m climb.

She carried on with extensive scrapes and bruises and plenty of encouragement from her teammates.

"You can't cry because you just have to keep going."

Fortunately she saved her worst fall until one of the last stages on the five-day event, when she nearly killed herself after slipping and falling on a steep cliff "past the point of no return" down a 4m drop to a rocky beach.

She was briefly knocked out on impact and landed heavily on her right side.

The team were coming sixth overall and Kate says there was nothing to do but "dig deep" and keep going.

"I took some anti-inflammatory and carried on walking which probably wasn't a bad thing."

She says a subsequent swim across a lagoon in freezing water may have also helped reduce some horrendous bruising.

The hard work paid off and the team finished fifth overall with only two and a half hours separating them from the runners-up.

Two weeks after completing the event her body is still bruised and battered but her love of the outdoors remains undimmed.

"I don't think it's sensible to beat myself up like this but there's something about being in places where not many people ever get to go to and racing with like-minded people."