The 10th running of the Trek Terra Nova race came down to the wire Wednesday, with only 30 seconds separating the first and second place teams.
Seventeen squads from high schools in central and eastern Newfoundland competed in the annual race, this year donning snowshoes instead of skis due to mild winter conditions.
One of two groups from Riverwood Academy took first spot, finishing in 90 minutes and 47 seconds.
The runners-up from Glovertown Academy were just 23 seconds behind.
Throughout the eight-kilometre race, students had to set a fire, boil a kettle, and hit targets with their paintball guns.
Organizers say the event is as educational as it is competitive.
"I think this race is a really unique opportunity for youth to work in a team setting. Try things they've never tried before. For some of them this is their first time on snowshoes," said Janet Feltham.
She was involved in the very first running of the Trek Terra Nova, 10 years ago.
She said the park is a great place for an outdoor expedition.
"It's a wilderness race, so they are likely to see tracks, animals along the way. It just gets them outdoors and having fun."
Heidi Simpson, a Grade 11 student at Glovertown Academy, has run the race before — but this year's paintball component was new to her. It's something she said she'd like to try again.
She and her teammate Brooklyn Blackwood were part of the second-place team.
"We learned how to get along better with each other, I guess," said Blackwood. "We got a little frustrated, during the middle part, but that's ok!"
According to Matt Torraville, a student at Riverwood Academy, one of the biggest challenges of the race was keeping his five-person team together.
"It is tough but, you gotta keep on going ahead, and hopefully [then] the rest of them will try to follow in your footsteps," he said.
Torraville said he's usually not competitive, but with the team around him and the clocks running, he got into the spirit of the event.
"I was thinking that we were going to be maybe place third, but I wasn't expecting first. As soon as we found the seven kilometre mark, we just kinda started running a lot then, trying to push it to see [if] we could get it."
Feltham says the Trek Terra Nova event started as a way to get kids outdoors and into the national park.
She says staff at the park love what it offers.
"I think most of us here really want to see it continue. I know that local kids really love it, and we also have people coming back from years gone by saying that they still remember fondly doing this race."
She says it takes work and coordination with local schools, but it's well worth it.
"Just creating memories for people is what we want to continue to do here."