Friday, April 3, 2009

OXFAM Trailwalker 2009

Well the OXFAM Trailwalker for 2009 has been and gone, and I'm sad to report that it got the better of me and I wasn't able to finish.

A little info on the BIG event: Teams of 4 walk 100km within 48 hours through Victoria's bushland to help raise money for OXFAM.

Our 2 teams, Eite Ops 1 & 2 consisted of Jeremy, Sarah, Fiona, Myself, Sharon, Ger, Garry & Sam. We had a target of raising $2,000.00 per team and completing the walk in 28 hours. We did some decent walks around Melbourne as training, and even did a night walk on part of the course to get our bearings and a feeling of walking with our headlamps on. It was a bit nerve wracking leading up to the event, but our team had a fantastic support crew, and we were all very organised with what was needed.

So at 10:00am on Friday 27th March our trek began!! Off we went to test our physical and mental limits. With our camelbacks loaded with drinks and snacks we were ready to face our huge challenge. The first leg of the walk was 12.5Km from Jells Park in Wheelers Hill to Churchill National Park Picnic Grounds. This was a nice way to ease ourselves into the pain that lay ahead of us. We did a quick check-in and out at CHP1, then heading off towards CHP2 9km away at Lysterfield Lake Picnic area.

There was a slight hill on the way which showed me I really was the weakest link of the team trailing quite a way behind everyone, but I knew I'd make it to the top would just take me a lil longer than the others. We arrived at Lysterfield Lake about 2pm to see our brilliant support crew waiting for us with our picnic table laden with salad rolls and treats galore! Sharon from Elite Ops 2 was due to pull out at this stage, due to her pregnancy (only discovered a couple of weeks prior to the event) and so we were down to 7 people. After a feed and feet re-taping session, we were on our way 45 minutes later and headed towards CHP3 at Grants Picnic Ground 13.3km away.

This section was a little tougher again with some nice hills to get the legs feeling the burn. It turns out I wasn't the slowest up the hills, but I was trailing most of the time. This is when the blisters started to come on and the leg muscles really started to feel like they were working. After a brief stop at CHP3 to re-fill our camelbacks and do some stretches and minor taping, we headed off towards CHP4 at Olinda Reserve, 11.7km away.

This part of the trek was the toughest so far. The CHP started off with a steep incline up into the Sherbrooke forrest, and through the botanical gardens. By the time we hit the gardens, it was getting quite dark, so the headlamps were out and we continued through the damp forrest towards Hacketts Lane....a nice little hill with a 30 degree incline!! This was really tough going and went on for what seemed like forever, but eventually I made it to the top and saw my team waiting for me....again! We made it to CHP4 by about 8:45pm and met our support crew for some dinner. Our wonderful supporters had set up camp with chairs and mats and Pasta of all kinds ready to be consumed. By this stage my feet were really starting to hurt, not just with blisters, but with aching all over and swelling, so I ate my dinner lying down and and my feet up on a chair. After a good feed, a change of clothes and a few extra layers, we were ready to head off to CHP5 at Silvan Reservoir 8km away.

CHP5 seemed to fly by and I was feeling like I might be able to actually finish this thing. The blisters were popping themselves as I walked and it was time for the ipod to break the monotony. Arriving at CHP5 was a releif, but it was only a brief stop over to strap feet and replenish our packs. By the time we left Silvan Damn at about midnight, I was doing some serious self re-assurance that I could make it through to CHP6 a short 8km away.

But all of my self re-assuring didn't seem to work. We were about 3km into the CHP when Garry (from Elite-Ops2) and I started to fall behind the rest of the team. The uneven downhill surfaces were taking a toll on all of my leg muscles and joints, and we just couldn't seem to keep up the pace. Before we knew the rest of our teams were out of sight and we were really feeling the pain of it all. I can remember the point that I first felt I wouldn't be able to make it; we were going down a ridiculously steep hill and every joint and muscle in body ached, Garry was a little way behind me, and as I stopped to wait for him to catch up the pain seemed to take over my body and I struggled to keep it at bay. Garry and I continued on trying to take each other's minds off the pain we were both in with mundane boring questions about each other....but alas it really didn't seem to help. The last 2.5km of that CHP on the Warburton Trail were the absolute worst. We both seemed to have lost mobility in our joints and the pain just didn't want to stop. It was flat, hard under foot, and extremely boring. We couldn't see any lights ahead of us, and we seriously felt like we were never going to make it. When we finally reached the last 200 meters (which was all up hill mind you) I was ready to burst into tears. Garry and I both knew that neither of us were going any further. I arrived at CHP6 to find Matt, my wonderful boyfriend, waiting for me. He helped me into the marquee where the rest of our teams were waiting for us. I was an absolute emotional and physical wreck. My body had given out on me, and my mind just didn't want to go any further. I had failed in my quest. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely heartbroken and upset with myself. It was about 2:30am and I'd been walking for 17.5 hours, 64kms and I just couldn't go a step further.

It turns out I wasn't the only one going through hell, Garry also pulled out at that point, but to my huge surprise Fi was also in a bad way. Her legs seemed to have seized up and given out on her, she was NOT in a good way, and had also decided this was the end for her. The 4 remaining team members continued on to CHP7 where I met them for some support and courage, however I had no idea the effect the whole thing was having on me. I was really emotional about not being able to finish and we decided it was best that Matt take me home and I get some rest.

The next 3 days I was an absolute wreck. I was extremely emotional and just couldn't understand why I couldn't do it!! I knew that what I had achieved was a great effort, but in reality, I didn't set out to walk 64km, I set out to walk the whole 100kms. So after about 24 hours of rest, I'd talked my self into doing it all again next year.

Only 3 of our 8 team members finished the whole 100kms, and although I'm extremely proud of them, it still really hurts to think I couldn't do it. We've already got nearly 3 teams lined up for next years walk, and even if I have to crawl over that line, I'll finish all damn 100kms if it kills me!!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I just read this and can see why you were devistated but as an outsider looking in can totally see why you couldnt make it and the distance you did walk was amazing. Its all about training. Good luck next time. I doubt I could walk 10 of those 100klm:)