Oxfam Trailwalker 2015

Poverty, Pleasure n Pain – that was our team name and it encapsulated our walk. We walked for poverty, grateful for the many people who had sponsored our steps.

We enjoyed many moments of pleasure…..

Ah yes, especially that 50km mark – we were feeling so strong mentally and physically, in fact we skipped into the next checkpoint full of enthusiasm. Then we headed off into the darkness……and eventually into the pain. Collectively we suffered from breathlessness that looked like a heart attack, but wasn’t, sore muscles, blisters and buttock chafing. Personally, I have an old knee injury which decided to flare up about the 70km mark and I got progressively slower.  In the end the team decided to have me pulled off the course so that they could continue at a good pace. And good pace we had been doing. It was intentionally slow but steady, planned to ensure we would finish, hopefully in 30 hours. At the first checkpoint we came in almost last (out of 236 teams). By the sixth checkpoint we had climbed to 159th – just by continuing our steady plod.; and we were three hours ahead of our schedule. But I threatened to blow that, so reluctantly accepted a lift 4km to the checkpoint before the final leg. Despite the pain and fatigue and blackness still enveloping us, I desperately wanted to finish and begged the officials to let me walk the last leg and return to do the missed 4km when we had finished. They gave permission for the former, but not the latter – I was grateful for their grace because having got that far I was uber-keen to finish.

A quick visit to the medical post saw me strapped up and ready to trudge the final 13km, which turned out to be walked almost entirely in the rain. I didn’t mind because I was thankful to be walking and thankful that the serious rain had held off for so long. The pain could have been much worse!

And so we got to the end……faster than we had expected (in spite of the drama), but hardly euphoric. We were wet, cold and miserable, and in my case, feeling like an imposter. It was all anti-climactic!

But we had given our all and I would like to thank all of you who made it worthwhile through your sponsorship. If you would like to give now that you know we made it (or give 96% of what you would have given if I’d walked 100km!!), it is not too late to do so.  We have a page on the Oxfam website where you can donate – click here!

To everyone who has been a support along the way – from the motorhome lender to cook to candle-lighter (yes, one of our support crew created beautiful ambience in the darkness!) to massager to water-pourers to clean sock providers to those who wrote encouraging messages and prayed and gave, I thank you. At the end of the day this was a team event and I learnt a lot about teamwork – thanks for joining with us and being part of the team to fight poverty in the Pacific.

(By the way, overall we came in as the 160th team – and that included those who started at 6am. We started at 7, so it just goes to show Aesop was quite right about the tortoise getting there in the end)


1 day to go

The weather forecast prompted me to pack ALL my hiking shoes, even the ones that have already trekked over 2,000km and have holes in the soles. I must say I’m a little bit wishing the boots I’d bought had turned out to be comfortable, because they would have been ideal in these conditions, but I always end up hobbling or barefoot when I try them, so there’s no point.

Which is not to say I won’t end up barefoot tomorrow! Time will tell.

We’ll be walking in 24 hours.

2 days to go

Hope springs eternal! It might be raining in Taupo right now, but it looks like some sun will peek through the clouds to dry out the course tomorrow.

It still seems we’ll be walking in showers……so be it.

What will be will be.

3 days to go

We’ve been back at Waitakere Hospital twice this week……not in an ambulance this time (if you peek into that ambulance in the photo above – taken in January – you’ll see our Grandpa lying in agony completely incapacitated and at that stage for no known reason)

This week’s hospital visits have been so encouraging – his bone graft is taking, his rods are all straight, his kidneys are accepting the four months (so far) of antibiotics (but there’s at least another 3 months to go), and best of all his CRP levels (those are the protein levels that indicate inflammation) are down to 2 (normal is 5 or less – when he was in that ambulance they were over 200!!)

Grandpa is walking 300 metres at a time now. This may not sound like much, but when I consider the effort that has brought him this far, I will be inspired when the going gets tough in my 100km. I’ll remember his tenacity, determination, insistence, perseverance, sheer pig-headedness and the grace that has brought him back from the brink of death.


4 days to go

Weather forecast for Taupo for Saturday is pretty dismal…..in fact, it looks like there’s going to be so much rain all week that even if the weekend does dawn fine there will be residual mud anyway……on the other hand, all that volcanic pumice might suck the water away.

We’ll find out soon enough!

12 days to go

Each day of this last week the little voice in my head made one very convincing argument as to why I should NOT walk. I was quick to listen. Sunday’s voice was less easily ignored (it was Rob’s!)
So out I toddled into that approaching storm. Quite the adventure it was too……up on Glengarry Ridge right next to me, a sheet of roofing was lifted off a carport. The eucalyptus trees in Parr’s Park were bending (a bit). And best of all, I witnessed a guy playing his guitar. Nothing spectacular about that in and of itself, but when you consider he was also driving a car at the same time, it was quite some feat.
Made me wonder what things I missed during the week!
Also made me remember some of the special moments of my training over the past few months.
Every single time I’ve been out walking someone I know has honked or waved – it’s great to feel connected to community.
One time when I was asking for directions in the pouring rain the guy had his own question: “Is this what you do on a rainy Saturday morning?” He even offered to give me a taxi fare home and suggested I make a strong cup of coffee. I’m not sure if he thought the 100km goal or the rainy training was worse.
The following week near that same spot another guy stopped his van and asked if I was training to go to Nepal – all based on the fact that he had seen me walking with a backpack two weeks’ running!
The best stopping vehicle contained the lady who pulled over and offered me a ride. Needless to say, I had to decline.
However, I was not always so nobly intentioned. There was the time when I tried to convince one of the other team members to hitch a ride – while we did end up talking to a couple at the Cascades (who, by the way, were about to go in the very direction we were, but in their car, and who WOULD have given us a lift), we did not succumb. At least, not to unauthorised modes of transport. The Other Team Member may have succumbed to a momentary lapse of pride. This couple was raving about how they had just walked 13 km and Other Team Member whipped out his tracking device and nonchalantly read the display – at that stage well over 30km and we still had another ten or so to go!
Then there was the young girl who ran up behind me and gave me a bit of a fright. She was barefoot and asked if I had a phone. When I answered in the affirmative and asked if she would like me to phone someone for her she looked most disappointed. She’d been hoping to sell me hers so that she could catch a bus home with the money. I didn’t have any cash on me and was still 5km from home myself, but explained that if she could wait an hour I would happily come back in my car and drop her home. She declined my offer and I’ve since wondered if I should have offered her the pair of sandals I was carrying in my backpack.

Yes, it’s been an interesting training time, and is looking all the rosier as it comes to an end;-)

19 days to go

IMG_3615 Just three weeks out from The Real Event, we thought our team walk should be not too far (38km by the time I got home), but suitably strenuous with a bit of climbing. It actually looks more impressive on the elevation picture than it felt climbing it – I guess that’s the reward for training! We have certainly done harder hikes – this one springs to mind: IMG_3616-0 And I’ve walked much farther. Check out the distance on this graph: See  that number on the x axis? 55km! Anyway, enough talk of our little graphs. I’ll just tell you about the big one before I go…..the big graph is the fundraising one. Thanks to your support we reached – and exceeded – our goal. Our team leader promptly moved the yardstick in a psychological move to not discourage people from giving (coz apparently people stop giving when you reach a goal). The Oxfam goal is $1million for this, the tenth Trailwalker anniversary – their graph is almost half full, so we’ll keep putting our goal up as people keep giving. You might even see us running a Mad Butcher sausage sizzle one Saturday morning. oxfam graphAnd one more big thank you to everyone who donated last week – it was great to reach our target and know that now we will be eligible to walk. Thank you.

26 days to go

IMG_3594Thank you – thank you – thank you!
To those who have given or promised to, I return an enormous heartfelt thank you. For me this walk is almost entirely about the money. That is to say, it’s not like last year’s charity walk that I would have happily done anyway even if we weren’t raising money. This one is different. It has taken me away from the family and other interests for whole days at a time, it has seen me crawling out of bed at 5am these past many weekends and walking in the dark alone which is not a favourite, it has involved sheer boredom of plodding on for another 20km when I’ve really had enough and don’t want to take another step and I rationalise that 30km is quite far enough.
I had no need to prove to myself that I could walk 100km in one hit. In fact, when our team leader took part in this event last year I remember thinking “I’ll sponsor you, but there’s no way I’d *do* the walk myself.”
Never say never.
I am passionate about using what I have to benefit those who have not had the same opportunities that I have….so when I was asked to walk and not just give this year, I couldn’t deny that I have legs and can walk….and Oxfam does good work with the poor.
Before I knew it I had tentatively and with great trepidation said, “Yes.”
Before too much longer I was declaring, “I’m only ever going to do this once!” Nothing has changed!
Not only have I found the commitment to be a bit too much, but I don’t like asking for money. Not a great combination really.
I’ve got one more big walk to do before training winds down a bit leading up to the event. And I’ll ask one more time if you’d like to make a contribution to our team. We need to have $2,000 on our team page by March 16 in order to be eligible to take part in the event (and having done all this training now it would be a pity to be disqualified at the start line!). We would like to see $2,000 as just the beginning – would you join us in making this a reality? You won’t even have to walk!!

Thanks again to those who have given, and if you’d like to, you can click right here and follow the instructions for online giving (alternatively, some people have handed us cash and we’ve forwarded it to our Oxfam page).

thank you

Last week’s training:
55km in one hit
other walking plans thwarted