IN TRAINING: Andrew Mifsud, Nicole Brooks, Brenden Pellegrino and Jenny Pellegrino pound the pavement on their way to the Kokoda Challenge.
IN TRAINING: Andrew Mifsud, Nicole Brooks, Brenden Pellegrino and Jenny Pellegrino pound the pavement on their way to the Kokoda Challenge. Contributed

Ready for the long trek ahead

FOUR Coffs Coast locals who have never run any further than 21km are in the last stages of training for the 96km Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast on July 18 and 19.

The Challenge, which winds through the hinterland of the Gold Coast, crosses 12 creeks and reaches 5000ft in elevation as it takes runners from Mudgerabah to Nerang.

Brenden Pellegrino, his wife Jenny, Andrew Mifsud and Nicole Brooks have just one month left in which to achieve peak fitness for the event, which requires entrants to cover the distance in just 39 hours.

Although they have a support team, runners have to carry their own supplies, including food and water.

Every member of the team of four must finish the event to record completion and must remain within 50m of each other at all times. They are scanned in at four checkpoints during the endurance event.

The distance reflects the length of the actual Kokoda Track in PNG and the duration honours the 39th battalion whose soldiers walked the track in 1942.

Brenden said the fastest teams completed the event in 11 hours, but they were aiming for 21-24 hours.

"We are pushing our limits, we may not even make it - and there is also the fear of the unknown," Brenden said.

"We are all in our 40s and we have all played a lot of sport.

"We have a couple more big training sessions then we will start to back off."

He said the training had been pretty tortuous, including running with headlights and learning to eat while running.

Teams have to raise $1600 for the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program before they can line up at the start.

Brenden's team, which held its major fundraiser last week, has raised $2520 and Brenden said they had been overwhelmed by the support from independent local businesses that had helped them to this total.

"The local community has so many good causes this support makes you feel really good," he said.

The team's title is Between a walk and a hard place (KC301) and interested people can support it via the Kokoda Challenge website.



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