Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge Wraps Up Tenth Year

Last Sunday marked the end of the tenth Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge.

For the seven weeks of the challenge, 1,547 participants set out to climb the maunga to complete the 68 climbs, the equivalent of Mt. Everest. Altogether, participants climbed the maunga over 15,000 times.

Each participant had their own unique story of what the challenge meant to them. For some it was to raise funds and awareness for the East Coast Cancer Society to support locals living with bowel cancer, for others, it was to climb the maunga for the first time in their life or to join their friends and whānau in a team for a bit of fun and to keep active.

The Hulkfit Team topped the team leader board with a combined total of 3,171 climbs, while the Last of the Summer Wine team, with an average age of 76 years, averaged 74 climbs each.

This year, a participant made event history, Lewy Flemming topped the individual leader board with a total of 420 climbs. This is the most climbs that has ever been recorded in the ten years of the Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge.

“After ten years of the Titirangi Mt Everest Challenge it continues to have some incredible stories and achievements recorded. Talking with some of the individuals and teams that participated during the event really emphasised how life changing it can be. We would like to celebrate all those that participated and encourage people to continue what they have started as this maunga and others, are here for us to enjoy 365 days of the year,” said Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Events Advisor Debbie Hutchings.

With support from Ngati Oneone, Sean and Fiona Shivnan, the East Coast Cancer Society, the Gisborne District Council and ProTraffic, as well as local champions such as Huringa Pai, the event was able to raise awareness and funds for the East Coast Cancer Society to support locals living with bowel cancer.

Val Lewis Conquers Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge

The Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge always produces amazing stories of participants who register with an unknown ability to do even one of the sixty-eight climbs to scale the height of Mt. Everest using the local maunga of Titirangi.

The saying “you are never too old to learn something new” is very applicable to Val Lewis who is participating for the first time in the challenge with her workplace team Te Runanga O Ngati Porou.

What started as a wero team challenge to engage in a range of nutrition, wellness and fitness activities continued on to the Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge. One of the wero challenges was to climb Titirangi 14 times amongst your team. Val’s response to this was “no way can I do this, I’ve never walked or run Titirangi in my life!” However, with her wero team mates together they took up the challenge.

Some, like Val, had never in their lives attempted the walk. At 66 years of age with her work team mates Val did her first climb of Titirangi. It was hard, there were many stops along the way but together they successfully completed their first climb. After logging her first climb and seeing that she also achieved a badge also provided the motivation to accumulate more badges. She is now sitting on 67 climbs with one more badge to achieve, Mt Everest!

Val has also encouraged her son and four mokopuna to join her in the challenge. Son Terry, and moko Norris (14 years), Jacob (13 years), Tyrone (20 years) and Connor (17 years) have all logged climbs as part of the Te Runanga O Ngati Porou team. Val says that the boys won’t walk with Nan as she’s too slow, but she takes pride that they are doing this with her and that they will join her to do her 68th climb.

Prior to starting the challenge Val suffered from asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and painful arthritic joints. Now 6 weeks into the challenge her joint mobility and blood results are all remarkedly improved, she hasn’t needed to visit her doctor and managed a bad asthma attack without having to get further medical treatments. Her doctor has been really impressed with the positive results of her overall health improvements. Val has seen a big change in her general wellbeing. Energy levels are far higher, her mental state is improved, she doesn’t feel the same fatigue in the mornings, and she understands how important it is for her to get out and walk up and down the maunga to keep the balance she needs.

Along with the challenges of full-time work, Val’s partner also suffers from dementia. At times caring for him can be extremely frustrating. She has noticed that she has more tolerance and energy when there are tough days. On those tough days she now just heads out to walk the maunga and clear her head so that she can be a supporting and caring partner for him. Her eating habits have also changed with better food choices at mahi and home.

Te Runganga O Ngati Porou have really got behind their staff and whānau team to support this hauora kaupapa with weekly incentives to keep motivation high. There are 52 registered participants in their team, and they currently sit third on the team leaderboard for the Titirangi Mt Everest Challenge. Val is determined to keep her team on top of the leaderboard, and she has set herself a goal to complete 100 climbs. Regardless of whether she makes this by the end of the challenge on 13 November she will continue this journey until she reaches this goal.

“Val’s experience and journey to date epitomises what the challenge is all about.” Said Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Events Advisor Debbie Hutchings.

“It’s about improving your own health and wellbeing, inspiring others, connecting with the community and achieving something that you never thought you could or would be able to do. We know there are many stories of people just like Val and just admire those that participate in the event and have similar experiences of overall improvement in their daily lives”

2022 Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge

The countdown is on till the 2022 Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge kicks off for its tenth year!

Registrations open Monday 19 September, with the event starting Monday 26 September and ending on Sunday 13 November.

Last year, the iconic event of Tairāwhiti saw 1,600 participants take part in the seven-week challenge where people of all ages walk, run or cycle up Titirangi 68 times, which is the equivalent to the
height of Mount Everest. Participants can use alternative peaks like Titirangi in Uawa, D9 in Tikitiki and Manutahi in Ruatoria to complete the challenge.

“The event has a real uniqueness about it where the community come together regardless of age, gender or fitness ability to challenge themselves to reach as many climbs over the seven weeks. As the saying goes ‘It’s the journey not the destination that matters.’ The wairua, connection and physical activity of all those participating is something truly inspiring” said Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Events Advisor Debbie Hutchings.

“We need to give special thanks to our event partners and supporters that ensure we can offer this to our community – Ngāti Oneone, Sean and Fiona Shivnan, Gisborne District Council, and Fulton Hogan for Traffic Management.”

The challenge aims to create awareness for bowel cancer. Donations received through the Challenge website will support patients and whānau in Tairāwhiti who have been affected by a bowel cancer diagnosis through the Gisborne East Coast Cancer Society.

Participants can register for the free event and download a climb conversion chart here.

2021 Titirangi Mt. Everest Closing

Sunday evening marked the end of the Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge for 2021. 

Due to Alert Level Two guidelines, there was no major closing ceremony this year, however, Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti were on the maunga on Sunday evening handing out certificates and spot prizes, and the event was officially closed off with karakia from Morehu Pewhairangi and his whānau. 

Over the seven weeks of the challenge, 1,600 participants took part, made up of 163 teams. Altogether participants climbed the maunga over 17,000 times. 

Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Events Advisor Debbie Hutchings said “The TMEC has been going for 9 years and each year we see people achieve more than they initially set out to do and in process create new friendships with other participants, share their journey and more importantly improve their overall health and wellbeing. We encourage people to keep going and work towards their goal. Titirangi or wherever the maunga is located, will always be there for people to climb.” 

Participant Daryl Gowers had his own personal journey with the challenge. He had a friend pass away from cancer a few weeks prior to the start of the challenge and made a commitment to him that he would complete the 68 climbs. Over the 7 weeks he accumulated an incredible 471 climbs. Gowers said ”This achievement was not only in memory of my friend who had passed away but for the many families that lose loved ones to cancer here in Tairāwhiti. I like to see all the smiling faces and bring more enjoyment while on the maunga by giving away lollies for a bit of fun.” Daryl works as a volunteer for the Gisborne East Coast Cancer Society raising much needed funds for the services they provide.  

With support from Ngati Oneone, Sean and Fiona Shivnan, the East Coast Cancer Society, the Gisborne District Council and ProTraffic, as well as local champions such as Huringa Pai, the event was able to raise awareness and funds for the East Coast Cancer Society to support locals living with bowel cancer. 

2021 Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge Commences

Dust off your walking shoes, and grab your whānau and friends, it’s time to climb the maunga! 

The Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge, brainchild of Sean & Fiona Shivnan enters its ninth year and continues to be an iconic event in Tairāwhiti. 

The award-winning event is a seven-week challenge where people of all ages walk, run or cycle up Titirangi (sometimes referred to as Kaiti Hill) 68 times, which is equivalent to the height of Mount Everest. If you can’t make it to Titirangi you can convert your climbs from other maunga, and in recent years this has seen the establishment of separate community groups that have climbed alternative peaks such as Titirangi in Uawa, D9 in Tikitiki, and Manutahi in Ruatoria to name a few. 

Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Event Lead Debbie Hutchings said “The event is accessible to our whole community and can extend beyond the boundaries of Titirangi by incorporating any maunga where climbs can be converted.  Participation can happen anywhere across New Zealand/Aotearoa or worldwide.  For those feeling the pressures of lockdowns and closed borders this event can offer a sense of belonging and connectedness to Tairāwhiti.  The event is free and open to all ages.”  

The challenge aims to create awareness for bowel cancer. Donations received will support patients and whānau in Tairāwhiti who have been affected by a bowel cancer diagnosis through the Gisborne East Coast Cancer Society.  

The event is able to go ahead under Alert Level 2 with public health measures in place. Guidelines state under Level 2 face masks are not mandatory while exercising, 2m social distancing must be adhered to, good hygiene must be practiced, and a QR code will be available at the base and summit for contact tracing. “We appreciate it will take extra effort to ensure good spacing between participants, so we ask our community to be patient and make space when letting people pass in narrower areas, and to be considerate of one another and people’s bubbles,” said Debbie Hutchings. 

This year will also see the community benefit from the significant environmental restoration work that has taken place on Titirangi through Gisborne District Council,  Ngāti Oneone and Whaia Titirangi, as well as improvements made such as the permanent one-way system for vehicles, the designated path for walkers, and the introduction of seats and water fountain. 

Registrations for the event opened Monday 27 September with the event kicking off Monday 4 October and ending on Sunday 21 November. Participants can register for the free event and download a climb conversion chart here.