The Sparks New Zealand Development Group traveled to Queenstown for the last leg of their road trip. Queenstown is a reasonably sized resort town, world renowned for its many recreational offerings that cater to thrill seekers. Our group had plans to row on Lake Hayes out of the Wakatipu Rowing Club and also take advantage of the many opportunities to try new things like jumping off bridges and out of planes. The experience of stepping to the edge of a great void and jumping off is not entirely dissimilar to what the group has been asked to do with their training regimen. The intensity and volume of the work they have done to this point is more than any have undertaken in the past, and at points the gains can seem far off when it’s a struggle to hit what was once an easy split in the midst of a hard week of training. They have needed to trust the program, just as they trusted the professional they were strapped to jumping out of a plane, and in the final week the goal is to see equally exhilarating gains based off of that trust and commitment.
Between the rowing, skydiving, bungy jumping, and skiing, the group was fairly well spent leaving Queenstown on Saturday morning. Many slept soundly for most of the 4 hour ride back to Dunedin, but were able to rally for that night, where we were able to catch a rugby match at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The game featured the local club, the Highlanders, against the Chiefs who are based out of Hamilton, NZ. Both teams have several members of the national team, the All Blacks, on their rosters and it promised to be a competitive game. The game was a sell out with over 20,000 in attendance and had a great deal of importance as both teams head toward the playoffs aiming for a championship. While much of the Sparks group knew nothing about rugby, a few knowledgeable experts, including Coach Malcolm, kept everyone up to speed on the rules as a lively game played out in front of us. The local Highlanders were able to emerge victoriously by a final score of 25-15, sending the happy crowd out into the streets and the Sparks Group off to the Sahara for a much needed good night sleep before training resumed in the morning.