On Saturday, 17 July a battalion of fearless Black Hops foot soldiers accepted the daunting mission of completing the Kokoda Challenge, taking on a 48 kilometre test of endurance and resilience across more than 12 hours through the Gold Coast hinterland.
The event is held annually to honour the Australian diggers who fought in 1942 along the arduous Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War II.
As well as honouring the legacy of the original Kokoda Trail-blazers, the Challenge also serves as a vital fundraising tool for the Kokoda Youth Foundation (KYF), raising funds for kids who participate in youth programs that the KYF run throughout the year.
On the morning of the event the team met up at the starting point to begin their gruelling trek, incorporating rugged and hilly terrain winding through the Mudgeeraba and Nerang hinterland.
As their epic journey unfolded there were 8 checkpoints to reach, and the team had to cross the checkpoint scanners within a minute of each other or else they’d be disqualified.
“The toughest part of the course for me was definitely the never ending hill that takes us up from Hinze Dam to Army Land at the Top of Beachmont.” Dan Shane (HR Manager)
“The toughest part for me was the lead up week to the event – the dread definitely set in haha! But in all seriousness it was the first 20 or so kilometres that were the hardest. There were some big hills early on that really gassed my leg strength. But after knocking off the biggest one my mindset flipped and everything felt a bit more enjoyable from there. (Cayle Lutas, Brand Ambassador)
There were plenty of delirious minds and sore bodies at the end of the trek and in the days afterwards. But the sense of camaraderie and satisfaction in completing the course was a source of great reward, honouring the courage and endurance of the original Kokoda warriors.
“Even though it was a solid day of relentless hills both up and down, the whole experience was filled with laughter and delirium. To go through that with the lads and for everyone to knock it off injury free was a great feeling” Cayle Lutas (Brand Ambassador)
For their efforts the team managed to raise over $2000 for the Kokoda Youth Foundation charity. A big shout-out also to the BH support crew, Nathan Hyde, Chelsea Marchioni and Corey Castles, who supplied the beers, cooked the food and motivated the team to tough it out and finish the course strongly.
“At the end of the trek I was excited for a beer and it was a massive relief to finally sit down and take my shoes off. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment after hiking for 12 hours straight.” Dan Shane, HR Manager.
And of course massive props to the eight fearless Black Hops crew who completed the 2023 Kokoda Challenge: Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Ramsey, Steven Thomas, Zac Lanham, Jesse Goodman, Biff Evison, Dan Shane and Cayle Lutus.