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Stair challenge - our own Black Caviar
23 Apr 2012

Stair challenge – our own Black Caviar


Our Kokoda trekkers are 100 days out from their trek along the World War II Kokoda track to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Isurava.


On April 23rd the team undertook a heart pumping, leg burning challenge walking Levels 7 to 21 of Westpac’s internal stairs for an hour.  Health & Safety approved the event as long as we didn’t run (thank god for that!)


We raised $5,700 from bets placed on who would win and how many flights they would complete in the hour, and trekkers collecting donations in their backpacks on the night.


Natasha Yates was hot favourite with 49% of people thinking she would win.  Ed Bosworth was also heavily bet, including from Yogan Rasanayakam who thought he’d complete 700 flights, and an anonymous punter who pledged $100 if Ed finished Top 3.  We were quietly confident our champion trekker would do this, and so got the pledge raised to $200 for a Top 2 finish - all of a sudden everyone was hoping Ed could walk 700 flights.


The team started at Level 7, ex a late scratching in Andrew McDonald who had allegedly hurt his back chopping wood, with Ed and Natasha in prime pole position.  On the sound of Linda La Hood’s horn Craig Townsend and Greg Pawson sprang up the stairs saying ‘the pace was too slow’, passing Ed and Natasha for an early lead.  This lasted all of 10 minutes before Rob Whitfield and Natasha not only caught up, but overtook them.  Ed bided his time keeping a measured pace, quietly confident others would tire midway.  Our auction winner Karen Abrahall (who bid $12,650) was in the mix all the way, while Leigh Short never thinking she was a possible podium contender, kept leaving the stairs to wonder the floors and seek donations.


Forty minutes in Rob and Natasha were still neck and neck, but Curt Zuber lay in wait with $220 worth of 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins which he generously deposited in Rob’s backpack.  Along with the additional weight of 15 years of accumulated dust and grime, this donation took Rob out of winning contention.


Ed, seeing an opening and the potential to finish top 2, started to mount a challenge.  His earlier attempt to psyche Natasha out by pretending to do a hammy had failed, and it was time to dig deep.  His red bandana was a beaten and soaked strip of material, and sweat was now flowing freely – be it on the handrails, the stairs … everywhere


People around the staircase were all the while giving generously – one guy even donated a $50 note saying it would be a lighter load. It is worth calling out Gail Kelly really does have a pot of gold in her office and my backpack got some of it; Phil Coffey keeps $2 coins in his draw for his many ‘skim flat whites’ and post his kind offer to raid it, he was only left with some random silver and a few droplets of sweat (no coffee for him for awhile); and Level 19 finance and strategy teams find wacky sports competitions a great 1H12 result stress reliever, happily giving away bucket loads of $2 coins to watch.


How did it end?  Natasha showed not only her speed, but also her staying power, completing 322 flights (7,084 stairs) in the hour.  Paul Verscheur, who had the winning bet, kindly donated his $100 prize back to charity.  As for Ed finishing 2nd – you’ll have to go to the photo story board of the challenge to find out – but I can tell you he didn’t suffer nipple chaffing this time.

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