2go to the Barrier

FOUR MUSKETEERS: Adventure racers Mary Duff, Stef Ferguson, Cameron Hardy and Olivia Salmon.
FOUR MUSKETEERS: Adventure racers Mary Duff, Stef Ferguson, Cameron Hardy and Olivia Salmon.

There's nothing like running flat tack, climbing to dizzying heights and paddling through rapids to get your blood pumping.

That's why St Cuthbert's College students Mary Duff, Stef Ferguson, Cameron Hardy and Olivia Salmon love adventure racing.

The friends are representing Auckland at the Get2Go Challenge final on Great Barrier Island next month.

The event is a combination of The Amazing Race and Survivor with sports including rock climbing, orienteering, kayaking and mountain biking interspersed with problem solving activities.

The exact details of each event are kept secret until the race kicks off.

Orakei teen Cameron Hardy says a love of extreme sports runs in her family.

The 14-year-old's parents are ultra marathon competitors and run up to 100km in each race.

"In adventure racing you've got to go fast and hard if you want to win. The hardest part is the flat-out running," she says.

The girls have joined forces with four St Peter's College students to compete against 12 other teams of eight.

Olivia Salmon, who lives in Remuera, says they have been training together for weeks so they can work as a unit in the final.

"It's about staying calm and knowing each other's strengths. If you panic it's really hard to stay in control."

Mary agrees: "It can be so unpredictable, which can make it fun as well. Things are never straightforward and there's always a twist."

The Get2Go Challenge was dreamt up by the Outdoor Pursuits Centre on Great Barrier as a precursor to the longer, more gruelling Hillary Challenge for seniors.

Stef Ferguson, who lives in Mt Eden, says the competitions can last as long as 12 hours.

"It sounds like a long time but it just flies by - it doesn't feel like you've been doing it for a whole school day. It's exciting."

Event manager Darren Ashmore says outdoor education has huge benefits for youngsters.

The event began in 2006 and has grown steadily every year with more than 1600 students taking part in regional events this year, he says.

"It's about facing your fears and overcoming challenges. When you're in a competitive context all of those aspects become heightened and a lot more personal development takes place because of it."

Go to facebook.com and search OPCNZ to follow the team's progress. Go to eastandbayscourier.co.nz to see a video of a past Get2Go Challenge final.

East And Bays Courier