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CIOs thrive on extreme obstacle course

CIOs thrive on extreme obstacle course

Rank Group’s Pat O’Connell and Carter Holt Harvey’s Jonathan Iles reveal one of the most challenging tasks in their career.

They crossed swamps, climbed a rope, crawled under barb wire and tackled natural and man-made obstacles over a distance of 12 kilometres. However, Pat O’ Connell and Jonathan Iles, CIOs, respectively, of Rank Group and its subsidiary Carter Holt Harvey, are undeterred.

The two competed in - and completed - yesterday’s Waikato Draught Tough Guys and Gal Challenge in Ti Papa, along with team member Glenda Mullany of Tango Group, in order to raise funds for The Kia Timata Ano Trust, a women’s refuge in the Rodney District, Auckland.

In November, the trio will attempt a non-stop traverse of the Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Taranaki mountains - the four highest peaks in the North Island. This time, the course will be 40 kilometres and include snowy terrain.

“We feel great! It was difficult terrain, but not beyond us given the level of fitness we need to maintain,” O’Connell tells CIO of last weekend’s challenge. “And we kept thinking that each step we took was like another dollar for the cause. We got cold, wet and very muddy, but all for a good cause!”

The goal is to raise $20,000 for the trust. They are now halfway towards that, having raised more than $10,700 for the women’s centre.

“I’d advise everyone to do something that pushes them beyond their normal routine,” says O’Connell. “To achieve something worthwhile, whether in support of a cause, or just through challenging oneself to dig a bit deeper, is hugely satisfying. I am thinking of making it compulsory in our businesses!”

The two CIOs and Glenda Mullany call themselves “The Three Blind Mice”, for these challenges. The team has posted pictures of them training for the obstacle course on their fundraising website . They are also posting the progress of their campaign on Twitter.

O’Connell, a long-time member of CIO magazine’s editorial advisory board, says Mullany had approached him and Iles to support the project, “So we agreed to do something a bit off the wall”. Mullany sits on the board of the women’s trust.

“We wanted to make it both challenging and fun, so that we would have a better chance of attracting interest, and hence, funds for the cause. So, we created this ‘Three Blind Mice' persona to give it some character and set about working out what would be a pretty daunting and worthwhile challenge,” says O’Connell, who is dubbed Mick Mouse. Iles is Danger Mouse and Mullany is Min Mouse.

“The event yesterday was really only a taste of the lengths we will go to - the major event is later in the year, when we attempt the non-stop traverse of all four highest peaks in the North Island. We are over half way with our fundraising goal, and fully expect to reach it given the time we have until the traverse,” says O’Connell.

“We will maintain interest with regular updates through our site and using Twitter - and encourage people to follow us to track our progress as we train and count down to the main event.”

Asked for advice for ICT colleagues who would like to support a similar project, O’Connell says, “Get out and get fit before you do it. Training is part of the deal, and part of the achievement.”

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