Kokoda Challenge

Shona Stephenson First Mixed Team Medal Kokoda Challenge

Kokoda Challenge

About 13 days before The Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast I pulled out of my team the Rocksolid Raiders. I had a serious medical problem and I was advised not to run or do any strenuous exercise until I was cleared by a doctor the Monday after The Kokoda Challenge.

7 days before The Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast it seemed like all the reserves were more injured than me or relocating to a different country. I felt like I was getting over the worse part of my problem and I was on my way to recovery. I let Brad know that I was ready to jump on the team if the other team members were not confident with their own condition. I played it safe over the next week, no running, only moving with clients. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep every afternoon from about 3pm. I was totally flattened, drained of all my iron reserves.

2 days before The Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast I was really scared. I have never been so concerned about my health before an event. It took so much mental toughness to start The Kokoda Challenge. I had to put absolute trust in my own intuition, believe in my own body. I wanted Kokoda Challenge to be my perfect lead-up event before the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc (UTMB), keeping me in shape, practicing my nutrition and hydration, keeping the ks ticking over under race conditions, so I was keen to run it.

The day before the event, in the morning I was knackered, really worried, it was so touch and go. After a high carb meals of spuds, hammer choc ship bars and gluten free cookies I was feeling slightly “Racy”. I started to really believe that I was going to be okay. I did not want to let my team mates down.

A bush fire threatened the start of the The Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast. The race organiser did so well to organise a new safe route avoiding the bush fire and this year to ensure the safety of the runners the course was changed to be an out and back from the finish in Nerang. An extra 2km was to be added, elevation increased but the course was to become less technical, or so I was told. There was be no maps given out to the runners at registration, no maps available on the website without logging in like The North Face 100. The maps provided by the race organisers were not detailed to say the least so we will be running totally relying on their course markers. For the first time in an ultra I will be totally clueless, no maps, no training on the course I will be relying on my team navigator to show the team the way. When I race over seas I’m always given a map to use, we usually down load it onto our mobile phones but this is the first Ultra Trail event where no maps are issued to the competitors it just seemed like a recipe for disaster.

As a team we all moved down to the start line, heard the race briefing and listened to the moving last post being played. Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice The Kokoda Challenge Values was going to be what will get the team though the 98km with over 4500m elevation gain and loss. The count down went off and we were off and running. I was pretty nervous, not sure if I was going to be okay. I woke up feeling good and full of energy, I felt like I had recovered just in time. Sometimes enough is good enough. Everyone usually starts a race with a problem, it all about your mental toughness that will get you to the start line, believing in yourself then keeping this positive attitude all the way to the finish line. This type of focus is what will get us through today. Only concentrating on what is important.

As a team we buzzed along the wide open fire trail. Our team was having so much fun chatting, maybe some of my stories distracted my team mates a bit as I enjoyed my coffee hit and talked poor Dan’s ear off so much that we missed the turn off after only about 8ks. We missed it so badly that we had run an extra 3ks before realising our mistake, running into the then leading Local Red Team of Boys who were also lost. As a big group of 8 the two teams joined forces and climbed up a ridge to check our location and realised we had climbed up the wrong ridge line. We all swore, retraced our steps and after about a “k”,we turned right and descended onto a new housing development where we spotted a street sign and checked our GPS spots on our iPhones. Man with no maps, no detail course descriptions and ambiguous sign posting it was going to make it tough to navigate our way back onto the course. (4 races in NSW that are great for course description and maps are GNW100s with no markers and Glow Worm Tunnel, THF100, Coastal Classic, Sydney Trail Series or Oxfam TW Sydney and Brisbane with markers, I believe these courses should be made the bench mark of all trail running events. Apparently some race directors don’t believe in providing maps, detailed course descriptions and adequate race markers. I felt like the athletes safety was not adequately looked after). We hit our phones and told our support crew where we were. We also told the race directors that a marker was missing from the course. We were about 4ks off course. We back tracked and in doing so collected team after team, after team. Soon there was about 30 teams collected for the next 4ks as we all worked together to find the right track. Cool 8ks we can handle that. I felt a bit like the Pied Piper, first stopping then turning back the showing the trail runners the way to go. We ran back swearing, cursing, frustrated wishing we had a map. It just seemed so simple. “Just give me a bloody map and I’ll navigate my way out of here”.I kept repeating over and over again. It just seemed dangerous and irresponsible to to provide the runners with a map.

We soon found the turn off and found about 100 teams or more ahead off us. Cool, at least we were going the right way. After a few more ks of chatting and regrouping, with our heads down and just trying to right the wrong, make up time and get back on top of it all we noticed that there was no longer any markers, teams or foot prints ahead of us. CRAP. The markers were not consistent distance apart, and there was no ribbon across the track to say don’t take this route, again no maps. Grrrrrrrrr! This was so frustrating. I’ve helped out Mountain Sports with their events in NSW placing 3 pink markers at the start of every turnoff, placing markers on the side of the track the next turn off is coming up on, making sure that there is a marker around every bend and that a marker should be in sight at all times. This event did not do this and it could get dangerous. I was totally clueless of my whereabouts. I’d never run here before. The course had changed so it can look different running it from the opposite direction and when you are a front runner quite often your team are left running by themselves. Again Grrrrrr! I knew the track around Mt Fuji in Japan and Mt Blanc in France better than this part of the Gold Coast. At least those two events where sign posted properly and we were given detailed maps, even if it is to be down loaded onto our iPhones and not printed out.

We stopped in our tracks, re-traced our steps and found that we’d run another 2ks off course. Meaning that by the time we rejoin the track we will have run an extra 12ks. Now I was pissed. I was so happy that I was totally clueless of what was to come in elevation. Okay 110ks instead of 98ks did not bother me that much. I knew our team could run down the other female and mixed teams but I don’t think we can win the overall category overall. A 12 k head start may be too big a gap to bridge. To me now I did not care. All I cared about was now NOT DNFing, finishing as a full team of 4 and enjoying the experience with my teammates.

We found the track and my heart sunk. We were behind the walkers. I could see an almost impassable ribbon of walkers, with poles on a single track was ahead of us. I decided to channel my Mt Fuji technical skill and make my own track avoiding the cue of walkers down into the gully. Brad caught on to my frustration, determination, will to right the wrongs and pass as many people as possible, so he was soon behind me, half falling, grabbing trees for breaks, down the gully but we’d lost Dan and Levi who stayed on the track, too polite to pass the walkers. I was so frustrated, I just wanted to run everyone down, get back on top. It was my new challenge to see how many people we could pass and what come back we could make as a team.

We re-grouped and noticed that Dan was feeling crap. He’d been suffering with the flu the week before and felt under done. Levi had a hip flexor that was playing up too and with the knowledge of having to run an extra 12ks I think just about broke the sprits of these two guys who had not run past 96ks before. Brad had also not run past 100ks before so again the extra 12 ks just made him angry. I just tried to remain calm, enjoy the race and see what the team could do. Sure I was frustrated but this aggression I just channeled it into my running. We ran into the first check point 18km after running 30ks in about 77th position or worse.

I spotted Bev who was my support crew for the day, grabbed my new Perpetuem, Hammer Gels and was ready to go. We’d been without water and food for about 5ks so seeing our support crew was just bliss. We quickly moved in and out of the check point and started up the next big climb call up Mt Nathan called Hellfire.

This climb is named appropriately Hellfire Ridge, it was big, hot, exposed, steep, rough and bloody tough. In our team meeting pre-event I thought Brad was joking about pulling out a harness if someone was suffering. But when Dan appeared to be sweating profusely and showing symptoms of illness Brad pulled it out and attached it aground his waist. I carried Dan’s pack and Brad pulled Dan up Mt Nathan. I just hoped Levi was going to be okay. I tried to stay as close to Dan as possible, knowing I had his fresh water stores on my back. I constantly monitored Dan for signs of glucose dropping, fatigue, every now and then telling Dan to focus because he was losing it a bit totally in his red zone. Brad the machine was going so fast and strong pulling Dan up Hellfire that I was struggling trying to keep up with Brad even though he was pulling a 6 foot 2 male up the side of Mt Nathan. Far out it was going to be a tough 110k event if this was what every climb would in tale.

All I can say about Dan’s weird sweating was that it remind me of Tia at Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane.(cheek out my previous blog). It happened at about the same time 30ks into the event. He was on the same product as Tia too. The gels just spiked him, and the electrolytes were not sufficient and made him sweat more than necessary. Maybe even giving him a glucose low??? Weird. Massive up then a huge crash. I started giving him my Hammer Electrolytes and passing him some sports lollies and tried to bring him back. I began to hand out the Endurolyte’s regally to my whole team, making sure they were all feeling okay. “Only good things happen when you take one of these”. I’d say as I handed them a Hammer Endurolyte Cap.

Brad dragged Dan up the climb, passing the teams one by one, some of the teams we’d now had to pass twice. It was quite funny really. Somewhat embarrassing but hey this is Ultra Trail racing, sometimes we make a mistakes with navigation. What are the chances of being able to see almost the entire pack twice in the race? I managed to see many mates and Steven, another Ultra Training Australia Clients out racing too. Everyone was just so friendly and encouraging.  I tried to find the positive in every negative.

Towards the top of the climb I noticed Levi was falling back a bit. His hip flexor was giving him grief and he and Dan chatted and wanted to pull out at the next check point after covering 50km. I started to chat to Levi and give him some more support and some tough love. I let him know that his hip flexor won’t hurt him any more than what it hurts him now and that we can take panadol for the pain. I assured him that I wanted to finish in a team of four. I have a perfect record of finishing in a Team of 4 for all my team events and I did not intend to break my record today. Basically I told him to harden up a bit.

We made it to the top of Hellfire in one piece.

I started to check up on Brad. Brads veins were popping out of the top of his scull under the strain of pulling Dan up that 500m climb. Dan was looking totally out off it and Levi was looking like a broken man. We rolled down the next hill and just tried to regroup. I let Brad know that the boys wanted to pull out and suggested than we run a bit slower. We’d blown them up in the first 30km and needed to re-group and look after them until the next checkpoint. It’s weird they can run blistering pace over short distances but take it out over 30ks and they suffer. Just not enough long distance slow, using fat as a fuel training.

We ran down the road, spotting Delina a lovely mum who I met on a Brisbane Trail Runners run when I first arrived in Brisbane I chatted to her, sending Levi and Brad ahead while I checked up on Dan. Turned right into the park and checked in and out of the Check Point 2, before rolling down the grass, crossing the road and running down the footpath before crossing another road and turning right and jumping onto the single track.

I lead out making the most of the descent, loving the soft brown dirt trails, rainforest roots, tree stumps to jump before hitting the wide open track and rejoin the narrow single trail rolling down the descent and popping out onto the wide fire trail at the bottom of Mt Nathan. We re-grouped at the bottom of the Mountain and I noticed that Dan was no longer sweating profusely. He was now able to chat, joke and share conversations with the team. I looked at him and said. “You’ll be okay now. You’ve recovered. We are all going to make it to the finish. On the plus side is that on the way back it will be shorter and we won’t have to run that extra 12ks.”

There is always a positive in a negative it is just the way you look at it.

We rolled on together as a group keeping everyone together until the next check point in the army barracks where I was able to pat two cute Kelpies and chat to a few of the volunteers while the boys organised themselves. I was happy with how I was feeling. I was running really well and my nutrition plan was working for me beautifully.


I was running on the following;


500ml 1 Scoop of Perpetuem

500ml Fresh Clean Water

Hammer Endurolytes every 30 min 1 or 2 depending on how my body was feeling

Pop Top Bottles of 50% Hammer Gel Banana 50% Water (5 Gels in the Bottle)

Sports Lollie when ever I needed it.

This got me 2-3 hours of Running I’d fill up with more water when needed.

Ultra trailrunning race Kit Shona Stephenson
Shona Stephenson Kokoda Challenge Ultra Trail Race Kit


Kit for the day

Inov8 X-Talon 212 Shoes

Inov8 Elite Shorts

Yellow Top

Hammer Visor

Zenzah Sports Bra

Injinji Socks

Inov8 Race Ultra Vest


We headed up the next climb as a group chatting knowing that we had to let Dan rest at the next check point for a bit. We ran into the check point on Army land and I quickly swapped over my Perpetuem, Gels and I grabbed a few extra sports lollies and Hammer Enduralytes for the team. I was ready to get out of there but Dan needed some time to recover. These guys can run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon, Sub 14 Minute 5 ks, so they are super fit. I just don’t know how many plus 6 hour runs they did before The Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast. Dan was still sick after the flu and was a real champion for running at all. They had great leg speed, we just had to make the most of their strengths and look after them on the climbs. Dan ate a plate of mash potato at the check point and Levi had some time to rest. Brad, he was Brad I really did not have to worry about him until I saw veins popping out of his head after pulling Dan up climbs and right now he looked cool as a cucumber.

I started to get edgy and before long we got Dan up and running again. We rolled down the hill, across the paddock, down the bull dust, loving the descent, having to stop a bit and wait for the boys to catch up, enjoying the chat and we were now being greeted by School Kids running and walking the 1/2 Distance of 49km in the opposite direction.

At the bottom of the hill we popped out onto the road and enjoyed the easy ks. We spotted to leading male Team of CAC Hammer and a 1km later spotted Sam and his Rapid Ascent Team. They were about 12 ks ahead of us. This bought a smile to my face, these teams were made up of hardened ultra athletes. We were still kicking butt, moving as fast as the teams ahead of us. We ran into the Numinbah Check Point and spotted the Kokoda Sprit team with Ben and Clarke in it. We chatted to them before heading out on the 12km out and back. Cool, we were only 12 ks behind these awesome runners. We were doing really well.

Out came the harness again. Brad the machine dragged Dan up the next gruelling climbs. I did not have enough strength to carry Dan’s pack though. I did my best to get behind Dan and push him up the climbs at the same speed Brad could pull him. I just had to hope that Levi would be okay.

We made it to the top of the ridge on the out and back and enjoyed the rolling fire trail down the the creek, onto the single track, under the road, through the storm water pipes and we could start counting the teams ahead of us.

O’kay, 3 all male teams, possibly 4 were ahead of us, one all female team and two mixed teams were ahead of us at Numinbah Hall. Brad timed the teams ahead of us and from that worked out the possible km distance we needed to catch them up. As a team we were moving way faster that all these teams ahead of us. There was still a chance that we could win the mixed category. Knowing that we were still doing so well as a team even though Dan and Levi were suffering helped lift Dan’s and Levi’s Spririts. They could smell blood and were ready to start racing knowing that the distance back would be 12ks shorter than the distance we traveled out.

I spotted that one of the mixed teams in front of us were suffering with cramp, I started to hand out the Hammer Endurolytes to the teams who were fading as we past them on the climb. Dan was wondering what I was doing and suggested that I did not help the other teams, he could not sniff a win.

“Nah, this is trail running, there are trail running gods and it is best to keep them happy by looking after other competitors as we past them. We are kicking butt, moving way faster than them anyway they won’t catch us again. We are too strong. Besides, this is called Karma”. I assured Dan.

We cruised up this hill, Dan did not need help up this climb. Levi seemed better too. Something about heading towards the finish line energised them. We worked together and just caught team, after team, after team. We were also able to see how far behind other teams were and we could tell we were still the fastest moving teams amongst this group so if all goes well we won’t lose any places either.

We ran into Numinbah Community Centre Check Point and I filled up on Heed and noticed my sponsor Connie from Hammer Nutrition was there. I’d never met Connie in the flesh so this was a awesome way to say Hi.

“Your only 2 minutes behind the leading Mixed Team”. Connie encouraged.

“Yeah I know, we will run them down soon enough. We just have to watch and look after the boys, they were not on Hammer Endurolytes before the race but they are all on them now and it seems to be working for us.” I said as I left the Check Point and ready to run the team down.

I hooned across the bridge, enjoying being able to stretch my legs and waited for the boys at the bottom of the hill. Dan and Levi seemed much better so we moved up this climb catching more teams and finally getting ahead of the leading mixed team. I let the strong female runner in the leading mixed team know that one of her team mates was suffering and I’d given him some Endurolyte Electrolyte Caps to help with his cramping. He’d fallen a fair way back and in the now dark it was hard to keep track on your team mates with the School Teams also on the track Running from Numinbah Hall.

We found and soon past the Local Red Boy all male team whilst jumping over a baby red belly black snake that found itself on the track at the wrong time of day. Its was pretty funny, I almost tore a calf muscle as I jumped over it I got such a fright. Up this climb I just channeled Mt Fuji, the bull dust was like climbing powder, slippery, a high cadence and excellent grip on my X-Talons 212 helped my all the way to the top and feeling strong. I was just so happy with how I was running.

We hit the grass and spotted the lights of the check point, ran through the fields and I spotted again groups of runners following the wrong track down a hill instead of following the fence line. The sign posting was shocking to say the least. Here was about 50 people running off into the night with no maps in the wrong direction. It was just a recipe for something tragic to happen. I yelled out to the groups and made them all change course. At the check point I told the officials that there was another problem with the markers and that runners were heading way off course and it needed to be fixed.

We checked in and checked out and let the boys rest again at the check point. I quickly swapped over my hydration and nutrition and chatted to Ultra Training Australia Clients and my support crew Bev and Jess about what I was doing. I was ready to go in less than 1 min. But it’s a team event and Dan’s hamstring was hurting him as asked Brad’s lovely wife Judy to strap it for him. It’s an ultra everything starts to bloody hurt, this is the game. Man, everyone knows that strapping tape won’t hold on a sweaty hammy after 70km. It just won’t even with all the alcohol wipes in the world. So Judy the Physio with her trusty placebo effect taping in place, more mash potato in Dan, I started to get edgy. We’d only just past a group of runners, and I’m pretty sure there was another unseen mixed team we’d only just past leading into the check point who was just arriving now. I wanted to move the F out of there an capitalise on our position before I became too bloody cold to run.

So after some time in the check points the boys were ready to roll and finish what we’d started. We cruised down the hill. I had to let my legs go and run at my own pace and wait at every corner or slight rise for the boys to catch up. We’d earn our ticket home and I really could not wait to get there it was going to be one of the slowest 110km on my legs due to check point stoppages but I did not care. We were going to finish as a full team of 4 and thats all that matters especially when the guys wanted to pull the plug 3 check points ago.

We quickly checked in and out of the Kelpie Dog check point and continued to roll down the hill and readied ourselves for the ascent to the top of Mt Nathan. I took Dan’s pack again and Brad hooked Dan up to the harness and pulled Dan up this brutal, slippery, bull dusted, technical climb and again Brad out did himself. He went up so fast I really hit a low trying to stay with him. I suddenly after 80ks felt shit, had asthma , took some drugs, ate a gel and told myself it was just the 80km low that I always get. Man I had to dig deep to get to the top. Even Levi was now keeping up the pace.

At the top of the climb Dan again wanted to tape his hamstring. Dude it ain’t going to happen I thought. His tape had fallen off and no amount of tape will help it stick. I just pushed on. We ran into the check point, tried to check in and out but Dan really wanted some tape from St Johns Ambulance. Okay, never in my racing experience have St Johns Ambulance ever had anything in their first aid kit that would ever help a runner. St Johns is for if you are going to die of an asthma attack, heart attack, bee sting, delivery to a hospital etc. They only had band aids.

I tried to check in and out, even by now the official noticed what the hold up was for and said. “Toughen up Princess”. She said to me.

“Who me? Hold Up. Hey, I’m tough”. I said in my defence, if only she knew what I went through to get to this start line. I giggled within trying not to show my amusement.

“No not you, the guy wanting some tape.” She replied.

“Come on Dan it ain’t going to happen let’s just finish this thing off”. I yelled now a bit frustrated. We had about 15ks to go and I wanted this thing finished before midnight.

Finally Dan accepted that he just had to suck it up and checked in and out of the check point. We moved on and I noticed that Dan was filling up with water. I’d just carried his pack full of water up a 500m climb and he was filling up with water.

“Dan, how much water is in your pack? How about you use the water in the pack I’m carrying for you rather than filling up that water bottle.” No wonder I struggled up this bloody climb. Dan just forgot that I was carrying his kit for him. I decided that he could have it back and told him not to fill up with any more water.

I started to worry about Brad, he busted through his anaerobic threshold, veins popping out of his scull up that last ascent and we still had about 4 ks of road climbing to go. I wished I had a harness too. I’d now recovered, having dropped the weight off I now had legs to help out Brad, but did not think I could drag a 6 foot 2 inch bloke up a hill at pace like Brad could. I wanted to help Brad out though.

After running and walking to the top of Hellfire Gorge we regrouped and hit the descent. We knew we were in about 4th place overall and 1st Mixed Team now and we were stoked with that. We rolled into the final Support Crew Check point passing another 98km team and cruised into 3rd place. I could not believe our luck. I knew we were pacing well I just did not know how well.

This check point swap over was faster, we still had to wait for Dan to have his hamstring strapped for the final time before heading out again up the final climbs of the day. This climb was brutal. Again the bull dust was soft, powder, traction less, slippery. We caught many school groups and tried to encourage them as much as possible. One girl was particularly low.

“We are almost at the top, it’s not far now.” Trying my best to motivate her.

“No it’s not it’s just going on forever”. She replied.

“There is always hope, we just have to hope the top is just there, and believe it the rest your legs will do, every step you take you will be closer”. I said in the darkness.

We soon reached the top and Levi was at his limits. He had pre-existing condition and needed to stop right there on the tracks and calm his body down. I decided that the best way to make him not feel rushed was to just stop and sit down next to him on the track. Brad followed my cue. There was no point pushing through a health problem which could be elevated a bit with some rest rather than to push on and risk the health of your team mate.

It must have looked so funny. Here we all were just sitting on the side of the track, chilling out, chatting away, trying to seem as relaxed as possible. After about 5 minutes of I soon started to tighten up, I could feel my team mates start to grown, tighten up too and then we all started to get bloody cold. Dan is an exercise Physiologist and guided Levi back up and walking again. I decided to drop back and stay with Levi and we walked every small, and large climb over the rolling hills to the finish line. I told him stories of all my adventures in Japan, New Zealand, New South Wales and France and every now and again we were able to run a bit together.

We caught up to Dan and Brad and we rolled into the finish line after running an extra 12ks, fighting the flu, medical conditions with the help of some good old fashion team mulling and one trusty harness in to the 98km finish line after a fun 110km together as a full group of 4 and into the 1st Mixed Team Place and 3rd Place overall. I was stoked.


We were awarded with the special 1st Mixed Team Medal, Certificate Awarded had our photos taken, thanked our support crew, Bev, Jess, Judy and Merrill and quickly jumped into the car and raced up the express way back to our families. Man I had that fat burn Keytone smell about me.


On the way back to drop everyone off we quickly had to stop the car a few times, once for Dan to puke and an emergency exit on the express way for me to empty my guts. One tip I’d say to do is hang around at the finish line after an ultra to wait for the blood to start flowing back in your organs before heading anywhere in a car.


It was a shame that while checking the results and times for The Kokoda Challenge whilst writing this blog that a mistake with our result was made. I’ve copied the 2014 results that were recorded and handed out at presentation.

Shona Stephenson Kokoda Challenge awards for Rocksolid Raiders
Shona Stephenson Kokoda Challenge awards for Rocksolid Raiders




Major Award Winners

CAC Hammer – Business Team (Overall fastest time of 14 hours and 14 minutes).

Team Rapid Ascent – All Men’s team

The Birds from Paradise – All Women’s team

All Things are Possible – Mixed Team

Electric Shizer – Family Team

136 Sig sqn Mercury – Services Team

SALC1 – Stan Bissett

Kingston State College – Jim Stillman (48km challenge – schools cup)


It was just a shame that the race organisers of The Kokoda Challenge did not communicate fully at the finish line official, or in the 16 hours of racing realise that I was a female and that our team was a mixed team. We signed up with me in the Team on the registration morning. To be fair, I was a late entry. However, it is highly unlikely that your team won’t have a last minute change due to injury or sickness. It’s part of the game, this is all part of ultra trail racing, we love jumping on a team and helping out a mate when we know you can do the distance and do it well.


I’ve written numerous emails to


Jan Klein

Competitor Liaison and here is her response below.


I was most disappointed to receive your response to my reason for the

category placing.


As I explained the category placings are awarded according to the nomination

of the category during the registration process.  Selecting the category is

solely the responsibility of the team leader and up to the team members to

question them if they feel this is inappropriate.


As you say you were a late replacement in the team, I therefore assume your

team leader overlooked the category change in error. Merely entering your

details on the profile as female does not automatically change the team

category.  It is not the responsibility of the organiser of any event to

change a category unless so directed by the team leader (The original

category could have been a Family or a Business category etc.. )   


The Kokoda Challenge Website is a shocker to use and almost impossible to change details online that’s why we thought it easier to do it in person. The site crashed regularly……….


So I asked this question to Jan Klien,


What if at the last minute a male had to enter a Mixed Team as a late entry and what if this team won The Kokoda Challenge? Would their win still stand even though he is clearly a male?


I have not received an answer from Jan Klein as of yet. I just hope this will be fixed before 2015. Apparently this mistake has happened before to the Nike Team a few years ago.


This is not the first nor will it be the last event that I will enter when a female is discriminated against. Just this year I have 3 events that I have entered that females are discriminated against and I’m sick and tied of zipping my lip, shutting up like a good girl and copping it on the chin.


Here are the 3 Events That I have witnessed inequality.


UTMF Ultra Trail Mt Fuji.

Reason; Top 10 males are awarded with recognition and prizes but only the Top 5 Women Are. Last time I checked we all ran 100miles, we all climbed the same mountain ranges and started at the same time on the same day. I just hope that with the Race Ultra Trail World Tour Status equality will be achieved before 2015.

Pomona KOM Awards Shona Stephenson Trail Runner
Shona Stephenson Trail Runner Pomona King of the Mountain Awards



Pomona King of the Mountain

Reason; Top 3 category wins were awarded to the males but only age group awards awarded to the females. Again equal award for equal effort was not given.


My Action. I wrote a letter to the lovely race director and he acknowledged that is was an awkward moment when I was called to the stage ahead of the winning female who was a veteran , and me awarded with the open win even though I finished 3rd overall, this open win award given to me confused everyone in the crowd when clearly the wrong female was being called to the stage as what appeared to be the overall female winner. I never had the pleasure of formally thanking and shaking my 1st, 2nd place competitors hand on the podium like the men had the privilege of doing. I just wonder how long it has been run like this? 30 years?

I am so happy that in 2015 The Pomona King of the Mountain will award women the same as men.


The Kokoda Challenge

Reason; A paper work technicality that surely could have been picked up at the team registration, especially as I signed in as a female.

It could have also been picked up at check points, and finally at the finish line when our team was the first Mixed Team to cross the line, and we were awarded with the 1st Mixed Team Medal and had our photo taken. But it was not fixed.


Our team beat the All Things Possible Mixed Team by over 2 hours. The mistake was not picked up by the administration even though we now have a Medal stating that we Won the Mixed category.


My Action. I’ve written to The Kokoda Challenge Jan Klein Competitor Liaison and I’ve hit a brick wall. They won’t admit their mistake, or even suggest that this needs to be changed in the future and are treating our team like we are an insurance claim.

I won’t stop addressing this issue with The Kokoda Challenge until they can assure me that this mistake will never happen again or if they do make a mistake like this again they happily do the right thing.

I understand that the All Things Possible Team may very well truly believe that they won the mixed category. It’s not their fault at all and we were a fair way ahead of them and the Kokoda Challenge tracking process, much like their website was patchy. I believe that if this was my event that at registration the category changing from being all female, to mixed, to all male team should be able to be altered to ensure that this is checked at registration on the day so this problem will never happen again.


Here are the results below;







Team Rapid Ascent





Rocksolid Raiders My Team Unofficial First Mixed Team





Team Wild Earth





Nicci’s Angels





RockSolid Challengers










All things are possible





Pogo Goats





The Cunning Runts