Deemed one of the toughest secondary school events in the country, the 2019 Torpedo7 Hillary Challenge saw the St Paul’s team of adventure racers take out sixth place overall.
Twelve teams went head to head in this year’s national final, which was held across five days at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro.
The St Paul’s team consisted of Miah McDonald (Year 13), Caleb Weck, Arna Morris, Trey Lincoln, Angus Riordan, Ayla Hall (all Year 12), Dolce Kissling-Hemsworth (Year 11) and Lucy Farrell (from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls).
The first couple of days had the teams competing in 12 challenges – from running, mountain biking and kayaking to problem solving and other aspects of outdoor adventure.
“The initial days of the competition test the teams’ fitness, skills and ability to work together. After the first two days of challenges, our team were ranking in fourth place,” says St Paul’s teacher in charge, Keegan Stewart.
Following that was the expedition days, where the competitors load up 20kg in their packs and navigate through bush and mountains to get to as many checkpoints as possible.
Unfortunately, a wrong turn had our team stranded down a gorge forcing them to swim down a river with their heavy packs. They finished the expedition at the Chateau, having covered over 50km across the two days.
A 55km multi-sport race on day five – consisting of a 6km raft paddle, 11km trail run and 30km mountain bike – rounded off the competition.
“The last leg was a gruelling 7km run up hills and through streams. The team came fourth in the multi-sport race, with an impressive time of five hours 11 minutes,” says Mr Stewart.
“Although they finished fourth in two of the three events, getting lost in the bush meant overall they finished sixth in New Zealand – which was still an amazing effort, considering they were up against teams whose athletes dedicate themselves solely to this event."