Dressed up with big smiles and cheer in the Aitutaki Liftoff team challenges. Picture: Alisha Street from Island Love Photography/21092061.
Fitness fanatics dressed up in hula skirts and florescent tutus pushed their limits across a variety of challenging trials at the inaugural Aitutaki Liftoff Fitness Festival a fortnight ago.
initially being postponed due to the Covid restrictions in August, the first
annual Aitutaki Liftoff Fitness Festival got into gear for an exhilarating and
enjoyable event on September 10 and 11, becoming the first event of its kind to
be hosted in the Pa Enua.
According to event organiser and owner of FuncFit
Araura, Dani Adendorff, the event bounced back bigger and better than expected
with 10 teams taking part in the team challenge and 10 in the weightlifting
The Aitutaki Liftoff has brought together people of
all ages, fitness levels and various backgrounds with the ages of the competitors
ranging from 12 to 63 years old.
“It was indeed a great celebration of fitness and
inclusivity, in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations, utilising the
stunning landscapes of Aitutaki, from the lush hills to the white sandy beaches,”
Lani Simiona from FuncFit Araura showed incredible determination and perseverance with fellow team members cheering her on. She won the team Mana Award. Picture: Alisha Street from Island Love Photography/21092075.
“But most of all this event showed the competitors
that they were all capable of so much more than what they had assumed prior to
“Competitors pushed their limits over a number of
events which tested not only their team work, but their endurance, speed and
On Friday (September 10) evening, the individual weightlifting
competition kicked off with participants from Rarotonga’s Tumuora CrossFit and
Aitutaki’s FuncFit Gym going head to head at the Aitutaki Game Fishing Club
The event featured a great mix of lifters, from novice
beginners to advanced athletes, all of whom put on an impressive performance
for the large local audience who attended the event, says Adendorff.
Aitutaki'’ Iotua Orika from FuncFit Araura took out
the special award of the night – the ‘Mana Award’ – for the most outstanding individual
“The Cook Islands Weightlifting Federation have
identified Iotua as the next up and coming talent in the sport of weightlifting,”
the anticipated Liftoff Team challenge was launched and kicked off with an air
This challenge had 10 four person teams who dressed up
in costumes that included hula skirts and florescent tutus, pushing their
limits across a variety of fitness trials.
The first event, the ‘Maunga Pu Madness’ sandbag run,
was a two-kilometre round course which took competitors up the Maunga Pu hill
and along the ridge line before turning back for a downhill finish at Paradise
Teams had to complete the course in the fastest time
possible with two sandbags – 1x 10kg and 1x 20kg – sharing the load between
Smiles and lifts in the Aitutaki Liftoff event. Picture: Alisha Street from Island Love Photography/21092062.
In the second event, competitors met at Paradise Cove’s
beautiful beach which resembled a scene similar to that of the popular TV
series ‘Survivor’, Adendorff shares.
Huge bamboo A-frame structures towered on the beach
decorated with event flags and large tractor tyre lying in each lane alongside
a large six-foot wooden log.
The ‘Wadda Beech’ event included two separate challenges
– the ‘Log event’ –a 12-minute event with log thrusters, burpees and lunges to
test team work, coordination and physical endurance of all teams. And the ‘Relay
event’ that was focused on speed; teams had to flip the tractor tyre over a
marked distance, a relay then ensued as competitors had to carry and toss two
sandbags over a six-foot bamboo crossbar in the fastest time possible.
“This event was a stand out for everyone on the day.”
In a report, Adendorff says Lani Simiona from FuncFit
Araura showed incredible determination and perseverance as she struggled to
toss her sandbag over the crossbeam with the crowd and fellow supporters getting
behind her and cheering her on not to give up.
“Lani achieved what she had previously thought was
impossible, there were tears of joy and hugs of celebration as the crowd roared
in support of this demonstration of true sportsmanship and courage – she was a
truly deserving winner of this year's team Mana Award.’
three events it was off to the Ureia field for the final event of the day – ‘Motor
This challenge involved teams pushing and pulling a
truck across a distance of 100 metres – stopping every 25m to complete an
allocated number of squats, ground to overhead and box jumps at each station.
Every team were in high spirits, high fives were all
around as participants hugged one another as they crossed the finish line to
conclude a tough but incredible day of fitness.
Adendorff was thrilled with the outcome of the event
that saw all the competitors walk away “with a sense of achievement and pride”.
“But, most of all we hope to have highlighted the
importance of fitness in our community, and hope to show our people that
fitness can be fun, and is something that everyone can partake in.
“We had a number of local families form teams and take
part together which was very special – mum, dad and children, moving together
and putting their health first.
Rarotonga’s Ake Patia Gempton in the individual weightlifting event. 21092076.
“And I’m sure none of the aunties who took part
imagined they would ever be pulling a 1 tonne truck in a pink hula skirt… At
the end of the day everyone had fun, no one was injured, everyone has made
memories and new friends, so all in all it was a fantastic success and we are
gearing up for an even bigger and better event in 2022.”
The prize giving awards that was held at the Aitutaki
Game Fishing Club, included a delicious dinner with meats sponsored by Prime
Foods and catering provided by Avatea Cafe.
The winning teams received fabulous prizes from the
sponsors including a Vodafone pack and credit vouchers, a Kute Sunset cruise
for four, Wet & Wild Whale watching vouchers, a beachfront staycation from
Rino’s Aitutaki and meal vouchers from Avatea Cafe, Tamanu Beach, Pacific
Resort Aitutaki and the Paradise Cove bar.
“Thanks to the incredible support of the Aitutakian
community, our FuncFit members, my right-hand man Stephen Doherty, our fellow
fitness community in Rarotonga at Tumuora CrossFit and of course our generous
sponsors, including our top line sponsor, Cook Islands Tourism. This event was
everything we had hoped for and so much more; and thanks to Alisha Street from ‘Island
Love Photography’ and John Beasley from Akau Film.
The Aitutaki Liftoff event organiser and owner of FuncFit Araura, Dani Adendorff. 21092068.
“Congratulations to all competitors for getting out of
their comfort zones and celebrating health and fitness together as a community.”
The top three winning teams are: 1st The S. Machinas,
2nd Under Duress, 3rd The Honey Bees. The top three female lifters: 1st Dani
Adendorff, 2nd Ake Patia Gempton, 3rd Tehei Napa. The
top three male lifters: 1st Martin Stetka, 2nd Eusenio Fatialofa, 3rd Kman
Adendorff has big plans for 2022 and is excited to
announce the launch of a Youth Liftoff early next year. “The health and
wellness of our local children is very close to my heart,” she says.