The new race is scheduled for January 25-Feb 2 and will be staged by twin brothers Andrew and Jason Magness. It’s a Race Director combination with unparalleled adventure racing pedigree and experience, and sees ARWS racing return to New Zealand, where Southern Traverse and then GODZone spanned two decades of top tier international adventure racing in the series.
Between them the brothers, nicknamed the ‘Magni twins’, have a decades long career of planning big adventures for themselves and others. They've climbed big wall first ascents, pioneered popular expedition routes and packrafted river first descents. As racers they've competed in well over 100 ultra endurance events and as Race Directors they've separately designed over 100 "adventure" races in North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and New Zealand. But they've never worked together ... until now.
Andrew moved to New Zealand almost a decade ago, is now a citizen of the country, and is well known in the Kiwi adventure racing community. In addition to creating the FEAR Society (Fiordland Endurance Adventure Racing), he is also a strong champion of youth in the sport - being the primary coach, mentor and sponsor for the wildly talented Fear Youth team that just shook up the established adventure racing order by taking 9th place at the 2023 World Championships in Africa with a combined age of only 76.
Jason is the founder of Bend Racing and the captain and mentor of the racing team that shares that name. He's personally completed over 50 expedition adventure races, and is the course designer for Expedition Oregon: America's Toughest Race. He owns a bach in NZ and considers himself half kiwi since he shares half of Andy's DNA.
After the closure of the GODZone expedition race the twins are looking to return expedition racing to its spiritual home in New Zealand and combine their different organisational skills and passions for adventure.
Andy’s FEAR Society events are low key, free and for members only, and he works at a grass roots level in kiwi adventure racing, as well as with community groups and landowners.
Jason on the other hand had been influenced by big races like Eco-Challenge, GODZone and the Adventure Racing World Championships, all of which he’s raced. They shaped his desire to create more extravagant media coverage and racer experiences when he started Expedition Oregon: America's Toughest Race.
Those experiences will allow them to bring different perspectives to the new race and the pair agree that course design is the top priority. "We spent our 20's together in huge audacious missions," reminisces Andy, "always dreaming bigger, further, more unique.” The duo always created memorable challenges for themselves and others. Tough, rugged, technical and imaginative are the ideals they both value in course creation, and both also loved the exploration that is required in the planning phase.
Nostalgia for their past adventures won out and a plan was hatched - the Magni twins were back together to put on a new kiwi expedition race. They both thought it was a magnificent idea, and, well, the name just wrote itself!
The attractions of racing in New Zealand need no explanation. It’s a destination on almost every adventure racer’s (and travellers) bucket list and is a country holding a unique place in adventure racing legend. It was the destination for the first Raid Gauloises (recognised as the first expedition race), has hosted Eco-Challenge and the Adventure Racing World Championship, and many of the greatest racers in the sport’s history are kiwi, with the Seagate/Avaya team dominating until their recent retirement.
Andrew said, “A huge motivation for us is to really welcome overseas teams back to New Zealand to let them compete on a level playing field with Kiwi teams (as much as humanly possible), and to work towards building a real connection with the international AR scene so that there's an obvious pathway for Kiwi teams to engage with the world’s best, both at home (in our race) and via the free entry to ARWC (assuming a kiwi team wins, that is!)
He described the race plan at this early stage. “What I can say is that it's on the Southern Half of the South Island. It'll be open for 6+ days (about 6.25 or so I'd reckon), have plenty of elevation gain, and traverse bush valleys, rugged mountains, and everything in between. There will be plenty of packrafting on both flat and moving water (up to GII+ ish), lots of mountain biking including plenty of purpose built singletrack, significant route choices, and some later stage emphasis on challenging navigation.”
ARWS CEO Heidi Muller said, “It’s a dream combination of Race Directors and destination and we couldn’t be more excited to host an ARWS Qualifier in New Zealand again and to offer kiwi teams the chance to race on home soil to win a place in the 2025 World Championship in Canada.
“Jason is an established ARWS Race Director and one of the most experienced competitors in the ARWS community, and his expertise from Expedition Oregon and racing around the world will bring a global perspective to the race design.
Andrew was with the amazing FEAR youth team at the World Championship in South Africa and it was an opportunity to get to know him and hear more about the FEAR Society and the FEAR Youth project. His passion for adventure racing and youth participation was inspiring and his in-depth knowledge of the New Zealand terrain will complement Jason. I’m sure they are going to produce a race which is genuinely MAGNIficent! I plan to be there to see it myself.”