Waimea College completes one of the paddling sections at the Hillary Challenge national final at Hillary Outdoors near Tongariro last week. Photo: Jane Orbell

Waimea College adventurers second in Hillary Challenge


Waimea College’s adventure racing team recorded its best result in three Genesis Energy Hillary Challenge finals when they finished second at the Hillary Outdoor Centre in Tongariro.

Twelve teams of eight, year 12-13 students contested the five-day final which featured two days of outdoor challenges, a two-day rogaine  and a one-day multi-sport race held in atrocious conditions on Friday. Waimea showed skill and initiative to finish second behind New Plymouth Boys and Girls in the two days of group challenges and then held on tenaciously to that position during the rogaine and multi-sport event.

Although the team of Maggie McLean, Brooke Robertson, Maddie Mitchell,   Cameron Jones, Ryan Doyle, Theo Smith, Luke Born and late recruit, Sacred Heart’s Taylor Simpson had plenty of speed and fitness, teacher and coach Jane Orbell says it was their outdoor skills and teamwork that gave them an edge over every team except New Plymouth.

“They had a good skill set which meant they did really well in all the group challenges on the first two days,” Jane says.

“They also had a good team spirit and were always positive and having a lot of fun and that helped too.”

Jane says Cameron’s map reading skills on the rogaine and all-round strength gave the team a big advantage. The Coast to Coast winner invariably carried the biggest pack and helped his team-mates out on the mountainbiking and the trekking.

“Cameron did an excellent job of navigating with help from Theo and Luke. He did a lot of planning when they camped out on the first night of the rogaine and that helped them really charge on the second day.”

Jane says the team showed plenty of character overcoming injuries and illness to get through the wet, cold and muddy multisport race. Team members needed taping on their legs after losing tracts of skin during the rope challenges while others suffered severe stomach problems on the last day.

“They were so tough on that last day. It was horrible and some of them were feeling terrible but they stayed composed and kept going – I was very proud of them.”

Jane says it is their best result at the Hillary Challenge after previously finishing fourth and eighth. Waimea has automatically qualified for next year’s final and Jane is hoping for another strong showing with six of the team still in year 12.

Waimea College recorded 3129 points  to finish second behind New Plymouth on 3750 while Thames was third on 3027.