Where do I start? Last year I was asked to do the Oxfam Trailwalker only 2 weeks prior to the event. I had zero training under my belt and was quite over weight, unfit and unhealthy. I didn’t have the right shoes, clothes, nutrition or anything really, but I decide to take the challenge on anyway.
It was a disaster from the start as my now flatmate Pax had to pull out with an injury. I met my two other teammates on the day, one was doing the walk for the first time like me, and the other was on her 8th time.
At checkpoint 3, 45km in, one of my teammates pulled out leaving only myself and the walker with experience. At checkpoint 4, 60kms in she also wanted to pull out, leaving me stranded. Not wanting to go it alone, I decided to also pull out. This left me hungry to do it again and finish it in 2018.
So this year I decide to make my own team, train a little, lose some weight, have better gear and proper nutrition. What a difference that made! How I felt at the starting line was so much different to the previous year. I had a readiness, a quiet sense of confidence wash over me. It helped that we expected it to be raining the whole time, but the weather seemed to holding off. Similarly to last year, our team only had 3 instead of 4 starting out as Bowen had to pull put the night before after being terribly sick all week with a chest infection.
Matt, Pax and I took off in the first wave at 7am on the Friday. We set off at a reasonable pace, staying with the surrounding participants. I soon started to feel a little stuck, as other people and teams started passing us. I wanted to stay in the flow, and so I decided to walk at a pace that suited me, leaving Pax and Matt behind. I knew I would see it just felt good to open up and go. This was the first lesson that came up for me: the battle between staying as a team or looking after how I felt.
I went with how I felt, knowing the other two could look after them selves. After a couple of hours of walking out alone, I waited for the guys at a beautiful clearing at Jerusalem Bay. Not much longer they arrived and we reunited to continue to checkpoint #1, which was 15kms into the walk.
We sat for a bit, ate some food, filled our water bladders and took off again. In this leg, the same thing happened – I felt I couldn’t hang back, so went ahead and enjoyed the flow, passing many groups and really exploring and playing with that.
The difference between asking to pass and not, and noticing what would happen if I passed one or two of a group. Often the team mates in front would instantly get out of the way to stay connected to their group.
After the biggest climb of the whole walk, I thought I would wait at the top for the other guys. It was taking awhile and I was starting to get a little worried. Eventually Matt and Pax showed up with the news that Matt wasn’t feeling well, was continually cramping in his legs, and would have to pull out. Matt went a separate way to be picked up and Pax and I took off to
To our surprise, Bowen was there. Originally I thought just to be part of the
support crew, but he had decided to join us on the walk, which was great new as we had just lost Matt. Even though Bow was recovering from his illness, we were able to set a good pace, which felt great and kept this up all the way to check point 3.
Section 4 started to get challenging as little niggles started creeping in for me. My left hip flexor and my right glute started to tighten up and my right shin started to flare up as well. It started to become dark too, which added to the challenge.
Reaching checkpoint 4 was a bit of a milestone for me, as this is where I
made it in the previous year. I was really struggling with my injuries but was determined to continue. Matt gave me a really good butt massage, which helped a lot.
At this point all the boys were hurting and this next section would have been the slowest. It felt like we were crawling. Our pace had dropped terribly, and I started to question my pace at the start. After a lot of thought I was happy with how things had already played out, and decided it was better to be in flow in the moment, rather than holding back for what could be. We all struggled to checkpoint 5.
At checkpoint 5 I think we were delirious, not able to make any decisions at all. After a lot of messing around we eventually took off again in the same sorry state as section 5. It took me having to stop to do a pee and then run to catch up to the other guys to shift state and drop out of the story of my pain. I was able to transcend how I was feeling, rise above it and then move quickly again.
This time Bowen and I took off, I felt amazing again as we moved and passed a whole heap of people. Pax wasn’t able to shift, and got caught behind some groups. The sun started to come up and with that came the rain. Bowen and I found some shelter to wait for Pax, and we didn’t have to wait too long. Luckily Pax had a spare rain jacket, as I had left mine at the last checkpoint not thinking it would rain at all.
Waiting was the worst thing we could have done, as Bowen and I both dropped
into a level of pain below which were previously experiencing. This was an
interesting insight for me. We all really struggled to checkpoint 6.
With a change to a whole new outfit, shoes and all, we were ready to go again. We struggled away at first, but towards the end of that section we all found another gear and it ended up being quite a quick section. The morale was back up at checkpoint 7, knowing we had one more section to go. To have Matt join back in really helped, as he was able to set the pace. For me this section started off great, but as we were getting closer to the end everything stated hurting again.
The last few kilometres were so painful, I felt like I needed to stop so many times to rest, but at the same time I just wanted it to be over. As we crossed the finish line 31 hours and 31 minutes after we started, I fell to the ground in a heap and tears of relief poured down my face. I’d never felt like that before.
The whole experience was amazing. I’d learnt so much about myself and directly afterwards I felt there was no way I would do it again, however a day later Pax I decided we wanted to do it again, and try to get in under 24 hours.
A special thanks has to go to Kerryelle and Alison for being our support crew, they did an amazing job. Id also like to thank the people who donated money, our team raised over $2k for Oxfam, which is a really worthy cause.
Until next year…