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SCU team gears up for the Kokoda Challenge


Zuleika Henderson
23 June 2010
The Southern Cross University team is shaping up well for the upcoming 96km Kokoda Challenge on July 17 and 18, after successfully completing the 29km Mini Kokoda last weekend.

The team of four staff members including technical officer Robert Baglin, lecturer Jak Carroll, administrative assistant Felicity Abotomey and lecturer Ray Booker completed the Mini Kokoda event accompanied by Jak’s 11-year old son Jordan, who rose to the challenge and kept pace with the SCU team.

More than 700 competitors took part in the Mini Kokoda Challenge held this weekend in the Gold Coast Hinterland on a section of the same track used for the Kokoda Challenge.

Robert Baglin said Mini Kokoda was good preparation for the full Kokoda Challenge event.
“At almost 30km the Mini Kokoda is one of the longer walks we do in preparation for the main event,” said Robert.

“The main benefit of this particular walk, apart from the obvious fitness training, is to help us identify weaknesses.

“There are a couple of good hill climbs which put strain on feet, knees and legs in general, but adding to this are the nutritional requirements we need to carry for a full day's walk.

“I’m pleased to report there were no major problems other than muscle fatigue - most of us had been up since 4am, so we were all pretty tired by the time we finally sat our weary bodies down at the finish line.”

The University is the Education Partner for the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program, which consists of intensive physical training, teamwork exercises and community service activities designed to help ‘Kokoda Kids’ aged 16-18 years develop the self confidence, teamwork and leadership skills they need to realise their full potential.

Most of the SCU team are veterans of the Kokoda Challenge, with Jak Carroll competing in the Challenge a total of four times and both Felicity Abotomey and Robert Baglin participating as on one prior occasion in 2008.

Robert said first-time participant Ray Booker had inspired the other team members to take part in the event again.

“The last time we entered the Kokoda Challenge we swore we would never do it again, but fortunately - or maybe unfortunately - the memories of pain fade, and after learning of Ray Booker's interest in doing the event we decided to come out of retirement and support his quest,” said Robert.

“Each month the entire team heads out to experience part of the course, building up from walks of about 14km to the 22km training sessions we are now doing.

“Weekly local walks are also included to build up our fitness, so we are feeling confident and well-prepared.”

Photo: The team trekking the Mini Kokoda last Saturday (alternative team images available on request)