Nothing can prepare you for walking and or running 52 kilometres across the Gold Coast Hinterland with a team of five, day and night. This year, the Somerset College team, Hendo’s Lethal Conquering Kokoda Squad, entered into the half Kokoda Challenge.
The Kokoda Challenge provides growth opportunities for students to participate in. A challenge to honour the fallen soldiers who walked the real trail in Paupa New Guinea during World War Two as the Imperial Japanese forces were approaching Australia.
The team consisted of Kydra Walden, Sam Stephenson, Caroline Mitchel and Lauren Sprague.
While you must be physically fit (and the fitter the better), your fitness alone won’t see you to the finish line. It’s your mental toughness, your determination, your preparation and your team. No one will ever understand this Challenge, until they walk these miles and the hundreds of training miles prior to the event, in their own shoes.
We were fortunate to have experienced some of the biggest thunderstorms I have seen hit the event. For some sections of the Challenge, the students and I skied down the hill into massive mud bowls. All the while the group laughed at how ridiculous the situation was. Our team maintained a positive, never give up attitude throughout the event.
It is an incredibly humbling experience to hear the last post played at the beginning of the event; to lead our young people on a challenge that would change them forever; to laugh and cry with our team and our support crew; to feel overwhelmed and utterly exhausted, as we crossed the finish line at the 52 kilometre mark.
However, what was even more humbling was that we came to understand this challenge was not even close the skirmishes that the Australian soldiers experienced during 1942, and we were humbled by their courage, mate-ship and endeavour.
A very special thanks to Mickell Walden for being our support crew for the event. He prepared all our meals and supplies for each check point we came in. A job that usually is done by three to seven people for the past events I’ve competed in.
Congratulations to the team for completing the adventure in 14 hours and 30 minutes. As a teacher, I was able to see some very exceptional students take on some extreme conditions and share in some wonderful “growth experiences”.
Truly a fantastic event.
See you on the trail.
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