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‘There were tears’ – ANZ staffer faces her fears during adventure race

Genevieve Simpson knew entering this year’s Spirited Women Marlborough adventure race would be a challenge – but she couldn’t say no when a friend asked her.


“She said ‘come on – we’re going on an adventure!’,” Genevieve laughs.


“I was actually a last-minute ring-in – the team had a plan, but we ended up with someone getting sick at the last minute and I was asked to step up, and step into the team.”


The Spirited Women event is a female-only adventure challenge involving running, kayaking and cycling, with a series of extra activities between stages.


Teams don’t find out the route of the race until 7.30pm the day before, and from that point onwards there is furious planning, preparation and problem solving.



“At the route reveal the night before, they asked the crowd ‘who’s excited?’, and about 80 per cent of the room put their hand up – and then ‘who’s terrified?’ – and I suddenly realised I wasn’t the only one freaking out a bit."



Some women take the event really seriously, entering year after year and gunning for a good place at the finish line, while others are in it only to challenge themselves.


“We were there for the adventure, not for the race,” Genevieve says.


“The event involves a huge range of women, from the real fitties who want to do a big, 12-hour race, to those who are just giving it a go – you don’t need to be a sportsperson to do it.”


As the race began, her team were in high spirits.


“We ran to where the kayaks were – well, in our case, we skipped! We were excited and we had no idea what was coming.”


After the kayak stage, she was forced to face one of her fears.


“We had to do clay bird shooting – and I’m absolutely terrified of guns,” Genevieve says.


“For me, even stepping into the arena was a real challenge, and I just burst into tears.


“All of a sudden, I had complete strangers coming up and supporting me, and encouraging me to keep going - to stay there while my team got it done.”


The race began at 11am and Genevieve’s team crossed the finish line at Rarangi Beach about 6pm.


She says she came away from the event with a lot more confidence in herself, and with a new appreciation for the importance of working together as a team - useful in her role as a ANZ NZ Payroll Officer.


“Even the stuff you say you’re terrified of - given the right time and place - and the right people - you can face anything,” she says.


She also realised the importance of good communication during stressful times, and says she’s taken lessons away from that which she can apply to other parts of her life.


“To see the way I was reacting under that kind of stress, it was like, hang on a minute, this is how I react at work – and it’s helped me understand that part of myself.”


Genevieve says she would encourage anyone to enter, and push themselves beyond what they think is possible.


“Just give it a go - you don’t have to come first, it’s just actually giving it a go and making it to the finish line - whether it’s in 400th place or otherwise.”


You can find out more about Spirited Women events here.


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