Hillary Challenge

A team of Whangarei teenagers is competing this week in New Zealand's toughest outdoor adventure competition for high school students. The team of eight is made up of four senior students from Whangarei Girls' High School and four from Whangarei Boys' High School.

They are competing against 11 other teams from New Zealand and Australia in the Genesis Energy Hillary Challenge at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre at Tongariro. The competition began yesterday and finishes on Friday. The Whangarei team won the right to compete at the Hillary Challenge by winning the North Island qualifying event in February ahead of 24 other teams. The event consists of 12 one hour problem-solving challenges in the first two days, a two-day navigation expedition, and a multisport race on the final day.

Coaches Lee Jones and Olivia Ford said the Whangarei team were serious contenders for the title of New Zealand's top secondary school outdoor adventure team. "We do exceptionally well in the challenges and orienteering," Ms Ford said, "and I think just our general attitude to give anything a go serves us really well." Mr Jones said the team was self motivated, hard working and enthusiastic. "We could tell them to do anything and they'd do it," he said. "That's because that's what the challenges are," Ms Ford said. Some of [the challenges] are just out of it, like you'd never think about any of them."

Mr Jones said the team trained in problem-solving challenges while much of the navigation training had been done with Whangarei doctor Tom Reynolds. Fitness training was done early on Tuesday mornings, he said. "Those morning trainings are fitness related, so it's carrying packs and sometimes we load them up with something heavy and they go to the top of Parihaka with me." "[The Hillary Challenge] is really demanding, so we need to try and simulate that as best we can by making it hard for them," he said.
The coaches thanked the Whangarei Orienteering Club for their assistance in training the team, and the Whangarei Boys' High School Old Boys Association for their financial support.

The Northern Advocate -Joseph Aldridge | 17th May 2011