Adventure race success for four Taranaki schools
After racing for five days through rugged territory around Mt Ruapehu, a bunch of Taranaki high school students have again proven their outdoor mettle.
Aptly named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the Hillary Challenge spans five days, a range of adventure problem solving and racing along remote mountain paths.
A team of four boys from New Plymouth Boys High School (NPBHS) paired with four girls from New Plymouth Girls High School (NPGHS) and faced off against a Francis Douglas Memorial College (FDMC) and Sacred Heart Girls College (SHGC) team and 11 other school teams from around New Zealand last week.
Team captain from NPBHS Sam Evans said the team was stoked with their second place result and they couldn't have pushed harder, despite a narrow loss to a team from Whangarei.
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The silver medal finish marks the team's first consecutive placing outside first since NPBHS and NPGHS started competing in the challenge in 2002.
They've placed first nine times and second six times.
As the team's navigator captain Evans said there was quite a bit of pressure on him for the rogaine - a sport similar to orienteering but the checkpoints don't have be done in order - section of the challenge on day four.
"Everyone's pretty tired by day four and you don't want to be the guy that stuffs it up," he said.
Spanning 65km over the rogaine challenge then almost 60km worth of trail runs and mountain biking on day five, team member Isabella Kelly said knowing what was to come was the hard part.
"When you pack up at night just knowing you have to run and bike that much is pretty daunting," she said.
Kelly also had her 15 minutes of fame, featuring on TVNZ's Seven Sharp losing her shoe in a mud puddle, which she said slowed the team up a bit.
Evans said the team owed their success to preparation and every member of the team bringing something to the table.
"We've been training since November last year for this, sometimes getting to school at 4.30am to train," he said.
While NPBHS and NPGHS finished on the podium the FDMC and SHGC team just missed out and finished fourth.
The team's coordinator and FDMC head of physical education Matt Lash said it was only their second year competing in the challenge but they had risen from eighth to fourth.
"Everyone's really stoked with that result," he said.
"We're competing against schools with an ingrained tradition in this challenge and we've beaten more than half of them."
Lash said the team was hampered by some delays in crossing a river as part of the rogaine challenge.
"We were leading after day one and two but got stuck on the wrong side of the river on day three," he said.
"We also suffered a few injuries in terms of bad knees and sprained ankles, so again we're stoked to finish where we did."
The FDMC and SHGC side consisted of Jack Matthews, Josh Morris, Felix Webby, and Thomas Hadley as well as Jordyn Coplestone, Nathlie Jaquemard, Casey Vink and Sophie Jury and were accompanied by Matt Lash.
Callum Sutherland, Sam Evans, Josh Turner and Jack Boon represented NPBHS while Demme Simkin, Isabella Kelly, Nicola Godwin and Charlotte Jones were the face of NPGHS. Their team was accompanied by Phillip Hewlett.