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by Alexia Johnston

Timaru teens Rory Duigan and Derek Budgen are on a mission – to conquer the gruelling Coast to Coast endurance course.

Rory and Derek, both 16, are among five Opihi Services Academy members to secure a place at the event after passing the required prerequisites.

“We did the induction course at the start of the year,” Derek said.

“You have to do that one to do any of the others, including the Coast to Coast.”

While the teens will cover the same ground as the official Coast to Coast race, which usually takes place at the start of the year, participants in the upcoming event will be part of a New Zealand Defence Force version, featuring army, navy and air force personnel.

They will be required to run, cycle and paddle white-water rafts.

Rory and Derek recently completed a bushcraft course on Little Mt Peel to secure their place in the event, which will take place over three days from October 16.

However, the competitors have plenty of work still ahead of them, as some were also selected for a five-day advanced leaders course on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

“We cycle it and on the way [we are taught] all the leadership skills [like] navigation,” Derek said.

Rory and Derek have been training hard in preparation for their upcoming challenges.

Their training includes cycling, running and endurance physical training.

Opihi Services Academy director Mike Pitcon said there was a big build-up to the Coast to Coast challenge.

Classmate Shayna Welch (19) completed the Coast to Coast New Zealand Defence Force version last year, but did not add it to her 2017 agenda.

She said the white-water rafting was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the challenge.

“But, completing it with the Defence Force [was great],” she said.