TLC Conquers Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle!

In an extraordinary display of determination, The Lakes College students, staff, and parents undertook a series of demanding challenges as part of the 2023 Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle. From the Sunshine Coast's 30km race to Brisbane's 48km endeavour and culminating in the gruelling Gold Coast 96km event, these dedicated individuals demonstrated unwavering strength, resilience, and a commitment to making a difference.

Brisbane 48km: Amidst warm conditions, 30 students, three staff members, and seven parents ventured into the hills of D'Aguilar National Park for the 5th annual 48km Brisbane Kokoda Challenge. The journey to this remarkable achievement began in October 2022, with after-school walks around North Lakes that progressed to weekend hikes on the Sunshine Coast. The preparation was rigorous, but they were resolute in their pursuit of conquering the challenges that lay ahead.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the teams reached the Support Crew check point (CP3) at the 23km mark. Here, a supportive team of parents and carers provided much-needed care. Warm face cloths, home-cooked spaghetti, and an abundance of love and hugs awaited the weary hikers, fortifying them for the journey ahead. From this point forward, they were on their own, carrying all the necessary provisions until they reached the finish line, a daunting 28km away, where they would reunite with the Support Crew.

Sunshine Coast 30km: The Sunshine Coast Challenge took participants through the rugged terrain and beautiful hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. The Lakes College teams faced steep climbs, creek crossings, and demanding obstacles. Two of their students attempted to conquer the challenge in five hours (two hours less than they normally would) to ensure they made it to their Year 12 Formal that was being held in Brisbane that evening. They did make it, albeit an hour late and very hungry.

Gold Coast 96km: After six months of intense training and competition, a team of six TLC students, three adults, and a dedicated Support Crew of parents, carers and partners embarked on the ultimate challenge—the Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle. The arduous trek had already seen them conquer the mountains of the Sunshine Coast 30km and Brisbane 48km, and now they were ready to take on the rugged terrain of the Gold Coast Hinterland 96km, confident of their success.

The initial checkpoints passed seamlessly, and by mid-morning, they had already covered an impressive 30 kilometres, meeting their Support Crew at CP4 (Polly’s). After a brief stop to refuel and gather essential supplies, they set off again, bracing themselves for one of the steepest mountains on the track.

One moment on the trek came when they reached the top of the biggest hill, where the lights of the entire Gold Coast skyline sparkled on the horizon. Briefly savouring the view, they pushed on, knowing that the next support crew checkpoint was close at hand. At 2:30am, they arrived at CP8 (Army Land – 58km) in freezing temperatures, where they were greeted with warm food, band-aids, and heartfelt hugs from their dedicated support crew.

The treacherous Hellfire Pass awaited them, and after navigating a gruelling descent, they arrived at CP11 (Little Clagiraba Reserve – 78km). Their support crew welcomed them with a feast fit for champions, fuelling their determination to complete the final leg of the journey.

Despite the physical and mental strain, they marched on through Nerang National Park, where the endless small hills tested their endurance. With each step, they drew nearer to the finish line. Finally, at 1:00pm on Sunday, they could see the end in sight - only 5.5km away.

With one final burst of energy, they crossed the finish line, champions of the Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle. Cheers erupted from their support crew and the waiting crowd. Their hard-earned dog-tag medals were placed around their necks by veteran servicemen and women, commemorating their incredible achievement. The completion of their journey was marked by a poignant moment when they climbed two stairs to the podium for finish line photographs.

The Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle had tested them in every way imaginable, embodying the four core pillars of the original Kokoda Military Campaign—Courage, Endurance, Mateship, and Sacrifice. These principles will forever be etched in the hearts of the TLCKT team.

While the thought of doing it all again may seem daunting, the experience has left an indelible mark on their lives. The Kokoda Challenge Pinnacle was not just a physical journey; it was a testament to the power of teamwork, determination, and the human spirit to conquer mountains—both literal and metaphorical. See more photos of these incredible young people on The Lakes College website: News - The Lakes College.