Testing week for Boy's High students
A hike to a volcanic summit, followed by 240 kilometres' cycling, an 80km paddle and a half-marathon sounds like punishment - but it's all in a week's schooling for a team of fit Palmerston North Boys' High School pupils.
The pressure was on for 19 Boys' High year 13 students who took on the 12th annual crest-to-crest challenge, which takes them on a gruelling adventure from Mt Ruapehu to Palmerston North.
As if covering the distance wasn't enough - the team challenge relies on every member going the full distance. If anyone drops out, their time is considered null and void. For the first time in four years, the team aced the challenge - even a nasty tumble by one of the cyclists could not stop all 19 pupils from reaching the finish line.
They left Palmerston North on Monday morning and began their mission by climbing Mt Ruapehu. The boys then cycled 70km to the Whanganui River to paddle 80km.
Corey Perrett, 17, had expert guidance. His mum, Aimee Perrett, was the first Kiwi competitor in her age group to cross the finish at the 2012 World Iron Man event at Kona in Hawaii.
Corey found the paddling most challenging. "The canoe is pretty tough, especially when the water isn't moving. It's really hard going but you just have to keep paddling."
Once out of the water they cycled 170km to Feilding. However, Caleb Fung, 16, got into a tangle and toppled off his bike in Bulls. He suffered nasty scratches to his knees and back, but he did not want to let the team down.
"I had to keep going because if one person doesn't finish it's all over."
He hopped back on his bike and rode on. A 21km run from Feilding brought the boys back to school at 11am yesterday. They arrived exhausted but ecstatic to applause from hundreds of their peers who lined the school's grounds to welcome them.
Physical education teacher David Barwick said being selected for the challenge was viewed as an honour among Boys' High students. "Of the year 9s who were out there today watching, there will be about two or three hundred of them who thought to themselves, ‘I want to do that'."
He was "stoked" the entire team crossed the finish line, which was rare in the history of the challenge.
"A lot of them haven't really done a lot of road cycling and mountain biking before . . . for many of them it's an amazing achievement."