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High school adventurers battle it out in the National 2019 Hillary Challenge

Five days of outdoor adventure racing including a 2-day rogaine-style wilderness challenge may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but for the two teams of Taranaki high school students who took part in this year’s Hillary Challenge, the competition couldn’t have been better.

Now in it’s 19th year, the Hillary Challenge is held annually at the Hillary Outdoor Pursuit Centre, Tongariro, and is open to a total of 12 eight-person teams from across the country, with all teams needing to qualify just to reach the start line.

This year’s event, held from 29 April – 3 May, saw Taranaki well-represented with a combined New Plymouth Girls’ and New Plymouth Boys’ High School team, and a combined Francis Douglas Memorial College and Sacred Heart Girls’ College team, both supported by Todd Energy.

“It was a tough five days filled with high rope courses, kayaking, bush bashing, hiking, mountain running and more, and after all the training, blisters and bruises that went hand-in-hand to get to the Hillary Challenge, we placed 4th. This is a huge achievement, and we left everything on the course,” says Geordie Vink, from Francis Douglas Memorial College.

“The Hillary Challenge is something we’ve all worked very hard to get to – it has been a dream since we started the sport of Adventure Racing. We made some valuable friendships and camaraderie within our team and within the wider Hillary teams. The plan is that we will be back next year wiser and fitter (even more so) to tackle the challenge again with the goal to reach the podium,” he says.

Jane Snowden, Todd Energy’s General Manager, HR and Community Relations, says it’s great to be able to support the Taranaki students who took part in the Challenge this year. It’s great to see the New Plymouth Girls’ and Boys’ team take out 1st place and Francis Douglas Sacred Heart a very credible 4th.

“We’ve sponsored local high school students taking part in the Hillary Challenge for some years now, and we really enjoy seeing the dedication, commitment and hard-work these young adults put in.

“It’s also great to see so many Taranaki students challenging themselves, working together as a team and developing some really strong leadership and decision-making skills in the process.”