With GodZone

The first time I heard about GodZone was back in 2016. While staying at a friend’s house, I noticed his wife was constantly at their computer looking at a map.  She explained to me that the map had markers which were moving to indicate the location of teams participating in an adventure race.  The teams were required to kayak, run, hike and cycle a distance which spanned 530km in total, and lasted for up to 7 days.  I was intrigued, and knew instantly that this was definitely something which I wanted to document.

For the 2017 event, I landed a spot on the media team and was excited to follow these crazy teams as they negotiated their way around the Queenstown course.  I didn't imagine this would be an easy shoot, and this was confirmed on the first day.  An awesome spot caught my eye, where I would be able to capture the teams and give a sense of scale in the landscape.  However, the problem was, this awesome spot was in a river.  I rolled up my shorts, and waded across the water, getting into position just in time to catch the first team go by.  The shot looked great, and I decided to wait for a few more to come through.  After waiting for about 30 minutes I heard teams coming, and got my camera ready, sadly only to realise that they had gone a different route to avoid the river crossing - they were on a trail up on the left behind trees!  This is probably the worst part about shooting adventure racing, not knowing where teams will be coming from. But this is also the best part, as teams don't all go the same way, and you can end up with a good variety of images. 

After running around for the first few days I was able to hop on a helicopter into the Queenstown backcountry in search of teams.  I have shot from motorbikes, cars, bicycles and boats but never while flying.  This proved to be quite difficult with the airflow and trying to coordinate leaning out while being strapped in with a lap belt and lanyard.  Thankfully there were plenty of teams dotted around which gave me a few opportunities to shoot while I cautiously learnt how to lean out of the chopper and shoot from above.

Johny CookComment