College News

Challenge Accepted: Kokoda 2021

Students and staff from St Mary’s College Ipswich have successfully completed the 48 kilometre Kokoda Challenge, testing their endurance and building strong relationships, all while raising money for the Kokoda Youth Foundation.

Five teams from St Mary’s tackled the walk, including 14 students and eight staff. Walkers set out at 7am from D’Aguilar National Park, with the St Mary’s teams crossing the finish line at 9.30pm. The walk was a gruelling 48 kilometre trek, half the distance of the Kokoda Track. This is the fourth time St Mary’s has participated in the Kokoda Challenge.

Organisation and support of the event was provided by St Mary’s College Defence School Mentor Kristal Lane. “I am really proud of all the students and staff that competed in the Kokoda Challenge,” Ms Lane said. “Everybody that started the race finished it with a smile on their face, which is a really great achievement.”

“At the beginning of the event we all paused for The Ode and a minute’s silence. It gave us all an opportunity to reflect on why we were talking part in this event,” Ms Lane said.

Teams participating in the Kokoda Challenge raise funds for the Kokoda Youth Foundation, which aims to educate Australians about the history of the 1942 Kokoda Campaign and provide teenagers with experience-based programs to help them reach their full potential. St Mary’s College raised $6557.00 for the Kokoda Youth Foundation, well in excess of its $2000 target.

The track included six checkpoints. At checkpoint three, teams were able to sit, rest and enjoy a hot meal. St Mary’s teams were fuelled by their support crew, many of which had spent the previous day cooking and packing meals and snacks.

“The support crew is almost as important as the actual walkers,” Ms Lane said. “Many of our walkers said their constant encouragement, both at training and during the event, gave them the extra incentive to keep going.”

Year 11 St Mary’s College student Rachael McNamara was among the participants. Rachael said the whole experience was rewarding, from the many long training sessions, to crossing the finish line.

“Through training and then doing the walk, I got to know each person and their weaknesses, and learnt that it was okay to share mine as well,” Rachael said. “The whole walk taught me endurance, not only physically but also mentally.”

Rachael said that although the challenge was tough, it was worth it. “Once you train for something, you actually start to care about it a lot. I really pushed my limits and even ran across the finish line.” Rachael said.

“We cheered on others as they struggled and helped each other when in need. We were fortunate to have an amazing support crew who not only fuelled us but stood alongside our families at the finish line, cheering us on.”

St Mary’s College thanks its sponsors for the Kokoda Challenge, Gibson Architects, Defence Bank, 6 Squadron RAAF Base Amberley, Hella Australia and Kathmandu Orion.