The Waimea College Hillary Challenge team, front row, from left, Brooke, Robertson, Maggie McLean and Maddie Mitchell, back row from left, Cameron Jones, Theo Smith, Ryan Doyle and Luke Born, practise their knot-tying skills at school on Monday. Photo: Simon Bloomberg

Waimea College adventurers ready for big challenge

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Waimea College’s adventure racing team was learning the ropes this week as they tied up all the loose ends before heading to the Genesis Energy Hillary Challenge final at the Hillary Outdoors Centre in Tongariro.

Twelve teams of eight year 12-13 students will contest the five-day challenge which features a series of outdoor challenges that put their skill, speed, endurance and team work to the test.

The teams start with two days of group challenges on Monday before heading into the mountains for a two-day rogaine on Wednesday and finishing with a one-day multi-sport race on Friday.

Although all five days will be challenging, team captain Maggie McLean says the rogaine, which requires teams to find around 50 check points located around rugged terrain using a map and compass, will be the toughest test.

“They are such long, hard days trekking around in the bush and scrub,” Maggie says.

“You also have to plan your own route and find all the check points so it’s going to be really challenging.”

Maggie says the team has been training all year in preparation for the final and spent most of Easter trekking around the region’s hinterland to improve their fitness.

Some of the team also spent two days trekking off-track around Mt Arthur to sharpen their navigation skills.

In addition, they competed in the Kaiteriteri  Six Hour Mountainbike Relay while three of them, Cameron Jones, Luke Born and Ryan Doyle, had earlier finished second in the Absolute Wilderness 12-Hour Adventure Race in Nelson Lakes.

Cameron, who won the Coast to  Coast Two-Day Race in February, will be a key member of the Waimea team. Maddie Mitchell and Maggie also raced in a team in the Coast to Coast, along with Daniel Reid, winning the mixed college section.

Maggie says the team has “learned a lot” from teachers and team coaches Marcus Swain and Jane Orbell and from expert caver Kieran McKay during a training day with at Whenua-iti Outdoors.

“It’s been really cool learning all those new skills,” Maggie says. “They’re so important too because the Hillary Challenge isn’t just being fit and fast, it’s about having good outdoor skills and working well as a team.”

Jane says the team will need to make a good start in the problem-solving challenges and then help each other out and “utilise the team’s strengths” on the rogaine. She says many of the team “have a good idea of what to expect” because they competed in Get2Go Challenge in year 9 and 10 although the Hillary Challenge will be a “massive step up”.

Jane says the team has received good support from the community with many Richmond businesses helping fund their travel costs. There was also a great turn out at a night rogaine in Richmond organised by the students as a fund-raiser.

The team is Maggie McLean, Brooke Robertson, Maddie Mitchell, Tayla Simpson,  Cameron Jones, Ryan Doyle, Theo Smith and Luke Born.