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Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids Day One

Competitors in Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids Face Tough Challenges on First Day

October 4 2006: There was a tight finish after the first day of the Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids when the first team to arrive in Wellington was pipped at the post when they were unable to locate the finish line.

Ben Merito and Jonny Schick of Team Tauranga Intermediate had led for much of the day from Auckland to Wellington but became disoriented in Wellington and were unable to find the finish at the Mercure Hotel in Willis Street.

While they tried to find directions the team of Paul Forno and Tamar McKewen, who is a journalist with Fairfax NZ, were dropped at the finish line by their ride to put them in first place overnight.

The race has 25 teams of two competitors who have to travel from Auckland to Queenstown with just $10 in their pocket. On the way they have to complete challenges and the first challenge this morning saw team members, dressed in racing silks and riding in a sulky around Alexandra Park raceway.

From Auckland the teams made their way to Hamilton then Rotorua where they were forced to put on a mud mask and work their way through the city collecting for Cure Kids.

The next stop was Palmerston North where the Defence Force set up a demanding obstacle course testing competitors’ agility and stamina before they travelled on to Wellington.

While several teams made good progress through to Wellington others were not so fortunate and around 10 teams had to by pass Palmerston North because they did not make the cut off in time.

One of those teams was TVNZ’s weather presenter Brenda Horan and his racing partner Ramon Oosterkamp from the New Zealand Met Service.

Brendan says they got sidetracked when they were given a ride by a man who had to tune an organ en route.

“That slowed us down but it was all very interesting,” says Brendan. “While we might have been at the back of the field today we feel we have come last with dignity.”

Dean Grocott and Glen Erikson of Wellington got held up on the way as well but they get the gallant award of the day.

“We were travelling with an old lady who broke down and we couldn’t leave her on the side of the road so waited with her till the AA arrived. It took extra time but what else could we do.”

Front running team member Tamar McKewen says she and Paul Forno, who was last year’s champion fundraiser for the event, had an “awesome day.” But she admits the Army’s obstacle course in Palmerston North was a killer.

“I was appalling and hyperventilated most of the time. It was the most exercise I’ve ever done in my life.”

The Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids is raising money to fund a national screening programme into cardiac inherited diseases. Last year $194,000 was raised and Cure Kids general manager Thelma French says it is hoped to exceed that amount this year.

The second day of the race starts at 6.15am tomorrow in Wellington with a challenge before competitors make their way to Christchurch where they will stop overnight. On Friday (October 6) they will travel from Christchurch to Queenstown where the event will finish.

The sponsors for the Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids are Accor Hotels and Resorts, Fairfax NZ, More FM, Rebel Sport and Telecom. Qantas and Mr Hawk who supplies GPS equipment to each team are supporting the event.

Visit for more information about donating to the Accor $10 Queenstown Race to Cure Kids, and background about the race and the competitors.


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