Amazing test of friendship for school mates

ON THE ROAD:  John Gbenda-Charles and Murray Roeske have  teamed up for The Amazing Race Australia v New Zealand.
ON THE ROAD: John Gbenda-Charles and Murray Roeske have teamed up for The Amazing Race Australia v New Zealand.

No pressure, John and Murray, it's not just the weight of the packs on your backs but all of New Zealand.

Former Nelsonians John Gbenda-Charles and Murray Roeske are competing in The Amazing Race Australia v New Zealand.

They are billed as "best mates - John and Murray" in the New Zealand team, or Raspberry and Coke as they call themselves.

They met in their final year boarding at Nelson College, when they were on scholarships, Gbenda-Charles for football and Roeske for rugby, and now 35, their friendship is still going strong.

Their competitive streak will be put to the test on the show which is due to start on TV2 on Tuesday, August 5.

The pair shared a stint in Hong Kong together, but have spent most of their careers living and working in separate cities around the world. They're relishing the opportunity to focus on their friendship and hopefully nab a victory in the process.

"We believe we've got enough skills, fitness and ability to win this, so we have to focus on that. This is our team and our journey," said Roeske.

Gbenda-Charles was born in West Africa and moved to Wellington with his mum and sister when he was 9.

Roeske grew up on a farm in Nelson until he was 15, became a Nelson Bays and Buller representative, and basketball fans will remember him as one of the original performers behind GI Ant, the Nelson Giants break-dancing ant mascot. Roeske now works in the civil infrastructure rebuild of Christchurch, or as Gbenda-Charles puts it: "He's doing God's work in this world", while Gbenda-Charles manages professional athletes.

This is the first time in The Amazing Race history that two countries will be pitted against each other.

The trans-Tasman rivalry will see 10 teams of two - five from Australia and five from New Zealand - race through 10 countries, six continents and almost 90,000 kilometres.

At the end of each leg of the race, the last team to finish is eliminated. The winner of the series is the first team to finish the final leg and collect the grand prize of $250,000.