Doing the RAW Challenge Gold Coast with Kids.
First version published in Kids on the Coast, Aug 2018
My nine year old stands with his seven year old brother at the lip of a trench, both of them eyeing the muddy water doubtfully. I wade straight in, my battered old sneakers squishing in the marshy bottom.
“Come on, it’s fun! It’s just a bit of mud!” I coaxingly tell them, then fish out a few handfuls to fling playfully at their legs. They aren’t impressed. Smart-arse youngest child then announces, “If it’s flooded, forget it.” (Agh curse and bless those public service adverts!) then both of them walk around to the far side of the water hazard to watch Mummy flounder through.
Ah, never mind, this is only the first one. There’s plenty more to go!
We’ve chosen the perfect sunny afternoon to get filthy. We’re doing the youth wave of the RAW Challenge, an approximately 4km adventure course featuring 15-20 kid-friendly obstacles spread over a beautifully scenic 150 hectares in Numinbah Valley. The adult waves run earlier in the day over a 9km course, then the kids take over and run a shortened, more kid-friendly version.
Obstacles are scattered across rolling paddocks, native bushland and waterholes on a property nestled between Lamington and Springbrook National Parks, an easy 40-minute drive from Robina.
The RAW Challenge has been running on the Gold Coast for years now and the infrastructure and obstacles are improving all the time. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, with music pumping and food and beverages available afterwards. Parking is $10 cash per vehicle for the day and a bag check is available for your stuff; I just check a small backpack with the car keys, money, snacks and water. Towels and changes of clothes I kept in the car, along with several plastic bags to hold the aftermath of filthy clothes and shoes.
Racers are welcome to take a camera on the course but keep in mind it must be fully waterproof, preferably shockproof, and you’ll need your hands free for the obstacles. I used a GoPro on a head mount and was very careful that it didn’t fall off in any of the water hazards; at least one GoPro was lost in the trenches that weekend. Photographers also dot the course taking photos which are available to download from the RAW Challenge Facebook page.
As far as what to wear, use clothes that you don’t mind getting trashed, that are easy to climb and swim in, and an old pair of enclosed lace up shoes. The bins overflow with hundreds of pairs at the end of each challenge, but I keep mine to use again. During the course make sure you do your laces up nice and tight, otherwise the mud will suck the shoe right off your foot! Protect your knees if possible, as there’s a fair bit of crawling. Fun (but practical) costumes are also encouraged; there are lots of team tee shirts, tutus and face paint, although that gets either washed off or covered with mud pretty quickly. I was especially impressed by a little girl I saw earlier in a mud-splattered princess outfit charging through a puddle yelling her head off; I want to be her when I grow up.
On the course there’s plenty of climbing, crawling, sliding and jumping over a great variety of obstacles involving tyres, large pipes, nets, planks and ropes, among other fun things. And of course there is mud, lots of it. My boys flatly refused to go near any of the first few muddy obstacles – I think they were a little self-conscious at first – but then there was an obstacle involving rope bridges and a pond and we couldn’t go around.
Once they got their feet wet however they started to relax about getting ‘mudded’ and really got into it. With each new splatter of goop there were yells of “EW!” and “I HATE THIS!” but there was plenty of delighted laughing as well. They got more and more confident with every completed obstacle, and by the time we reached the end they weren’t fazed at all, just jumping straight into the slurry like badass little commandos, then falling over giggling at each other.
This challenge is ideal for a family outing as it’s great fun, very relaxed, and the family gets to literally muck through together as a team. Kids have the chance to extend themselves physically and learn what they’re really capable of, and it was really interesting to see how the boys’ attitude changed as we moved through the course. The obstacles gradually get trickier and are challenging without being overly so; not much more than they might encounter at a playground, a Bounce X Park or the pool… just with added mud!
This is a great gateway into the challenges of the outdoors. Walking, climbing, slipping and sliding, multiple water crossings and any amount of mud on a bushwalk will be a walk in the park now.
There’s no time limit so you don’t need to rush through; we took our time and finished in a couple of hours. Muddy high fives all round! After a quick rinse at the hose down station, some snacks from the food truck and a stop for some merch we headed for home.
The boys talked excitedly about doing it again – their clear favourites were the leap into a gorgeous lily-padded billabong with an inner tube and the fifty-metre-long, four-lane super slide with epic splashdown. Their determination and sense of achievement in finishing the course put a proud little tear in my eye. Or maybe it was the specks of grit.
The RAW Challenge Gold Coast obstacle course is open all year round for private events, fundraisers, corporate and school groups, sporting clubs, and more. Kids 11 years and older can do the full 9km course while the younger ones have the modified 4km one that we did. It’s great fun and a fantastic family day out.
Update April 2023: The next annual Race Day will be held on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of October, 2023. For more information see www.rawchallengeqld.com.au