Life's such a rush for adventure racer Ben

By Shane Hurndell

Ben Andrews has ticked just about every box possible off in his quest to help Taradale High School's mixed team retain their national secondary schools adventure racing title at Te Mata Peak on Saturday.

"If my map reading clicks we should be fine. Orienteering is one of the few sports I don't do and I kind of wing the map reading component of our racing," Andrews, who will be joined by Kris Sweetapple, Emma Rogers and Kendele Hawke, explained.

The 17-year-old, Year 13 student wasn't lying about his sporting pursuits. Andrews is one busy sportsman.

Last month he competed in Triple Peaks, the Tremains Triathlon and the New Zealand Secondary Schools Futsal Championships. On Sunday the Hawke's Bay United Youth Development football squad member played for Marist in their first Pacific Premiership outing which saw them lose 3-0 away to Gisborne.

A Pacific Surf Lifesaving Club member "more for the guarding side of things than the competition side," Andrews is also a former nationally ranked kayaker.

At his first kayaking nationals in 2009 Andrews won five gold medals and a silver despite having just three months in the sport.

The following year he won another two golds at the nationals.

"I stopped the kayaking as I was't so passionate about it. Adventure racing is my No.1 sport."

He wants to be a professional adventure racer in the future like Hawke's Bay's 2004 Coast to Coast winner George Christison and the country's big names in multisport, Steve Gurney and Richard Ussher.

"I've met Gurney and been to some of his motivational talks," Andrews said.

Last month's Triple Peaks was his first. He finished second in the under-19 section and 11th overall with a time of 5hrs 36m.

Along with fellow Taradale High School students Sweetapple and Tim Lutter, Andrews, was in the second placed open men's team in the Tremains Triathlon. He was second overall on the kayaking leg.

Andrews Taradale High School futsal team was a first time entrant in the nationals and finished 12th in the 16-team event. The right winger-forward is a third year player in the Marist premier football side.

"Last year we finished second to last. This year we're aiming for a mid-table finish and I'm hoping to show the benefits of my training sessions with the Hawke's Bay United Youth Development squad," Andrews explained.

He started playing football as a five-year-old at the Taradale club.

After Saturday's Te Mata Peak event Andrews major focus will be Taradale High School's assault on the five-day Hillary Challenge adventure race in the Tongariro National Park from May 13-18.

"We've been training for this since 2009. During the school holidays we trained as a team every second day and on the days off I went for a 20km run," Andrews said.

"Adventure racing at Taradale High School wouldn't be where it is without the input of Miss Edwards and Mr Szelesi," he said referring to two of the school's teachers.

Despite all his sporting commitments and training sessions Andrews still has time for an after school-job as a delivery person for the Unichem Taradale Pharmacy.

Yes the question had to be asked ... when does he fit his homework in?

"It's a rush," Andrews replied.

He is undecided on his career path when he finishes school but pointed out there is a chance he may follow his father and former Napier harrier Chris Andrews' policing career.

If there is a waiting list when his time comes there's more than a strong chance Andrews will be able to make some bucks on the adventure racing circuit.

Andrews' feats during the past month suggest he will be more than ready for that challenge.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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