The Hillary Challenge Final, also known as the secondary schools version of the GODZone Adventure Race, is a five day adventure race held in Tongariro National Park. The event brings together twelve schools from around New Zealand to compete for the Adventure Racing Nationals title. Not only does this event require a high level of physical and mental fitness, all participants are part of a team and need to show their ability to work together in demanding circumstances.
The teams are scored on their skill, speed and endurance during a 5-day series of outdoor adventure challenges, including a 2-day rogaine style wilderness expedition and a multisport race on the final day. In true adventure racing tradition, the exact details of all challenges are kept secret until the start of the event.
Westlake Boys combined with Westlake Girls received entry into this event for the first time this year after their ranking in the qualifying event last year. The team consisting of Westlake Boys Andrei Popovici, Campbell Knowles, Taylor Haynes and Ryan Williams, along with Dani Bound, Rikako Ozaki, Mica Erdmann and Holly Gray from Westlake Girls, have been training hard since the beginning of the year.
The event kicked-off on Sunday 8th May with plenty of warm sunshine, but in true New Zealand fashion, this quickly turned into a week of heavy rain and strong nor’westers. Out of their comfort zone, the team took each day in their stride and pushed through the challenges they faced ranging from mountain biking, abseiling and orienteering to sustainability, construction and history. Then it was off into the mountains for two days of navigation and camping followed by a 60km multisport race to top it off.
The team felt well prepared for the event due to plenty of training and through sponsorship of equipment from both Bivouac in Albany and Bigfoot Adventures. The result was an 8th overall placing which the team was very pleased with. The week was a challenge like none other where our eight students competed against New Zealand’s best adventurers and the result from the team…….bring on next year!
Qualifiers are held in four weeks’ time so it’s straight back into training on Monday. Thank you to the parents, the schools as well as our sponsors for supporting the Westlake Adventure Racing team and enabling us to take part in the Hillary Challenge Final that has definitely given the participants an incredible experience to look back on for the rest of their lives.
TIC – Miss Belcher
The Hillary Challenge featured on TV One’s “Seven Sharp” last night. Click on the link here for the feature.