by Keegan Stewart

An adventure worthy of Hillary name

On Sunday, 28 April, our Hillary Challenge team joined the eleven best Adventure Racing teams for the National Final of the Hillary Challenge. Completed over five days, this is by far the toughest secondary school event in the country.

Day One and Two saw the team compete in 12 one-hour long challenges which involved running, mountain biking, kayaking, and problem-solving, among other aspects of outdoor adventure. These days test the team’s fitness, skills and ability to work together. After the first two days of challenges, the St Paul's team impressively were in fourth place.

Day Three and Four are the Expedition days. The competitors load up ~20kg on their packs and have to trek through the bush and mountains to get to as many checkpoints as possible. This year focused on bush navigation, which is extremely challenging. Unfortunately the team took a wrong path and got stuck down a gorge, forcing them to swim out down a river with their heavy packs on. They finished the expedition at the Chateau, having covered over 50km over the two days.

Having endured a tough four days, the teams then had to compete in a 55km multisport race. This began with the teams having to construct a raft and paddle it 6km. With St Paul’s amazingly coming off the water third, they were well placed to attack the 11km trail run and go into the 30km mountain bike. Tired and half-injured, the last leg was a gruelling 7km run up hills and through streams. The team came in fourth in the multi-sport race, with an impressive time of 5 hours 11 minutes. Although they finished fourth in two of the three events, getting lost in the bush meant overall they finished in sixth place in New Zealand. An amazing effort against teams whose athletes can dedicate themselves solely to the event.

The students in the team were: Caleb Weck, Arna Morris, Miah McDonald, Trey Lincoln, Angus Riordan, Dolce Kissling-Hemsworth, Ayla Hall, and Lucy Farrell (WDSG).

The team would like to thank Mr Keegan Stewart for supporting them throughout the lead up to the event and for his oversight during the Challenge.