Monday, April 12, 2010

OXFAM Trailwalker 2010 - DONE!

Here is the Watercare Cougars!

Today I celebrate! I feel truly happy and totally satisfied with our accomplishment. The training paid off well. We each, Suzie, Sharon, Philomen and I, managed a personal best at 17hrs and 50mins for the 100km trailwalk. We are yet to have our position confirmed but we think it was 15th or 16th out of 265 teams.

Our goals were:

  • Beat The Cougar Hunters
  • Finish as a team
  • Achieve a time of around 17hrs or at least within the same day
  • Be the first all female team to cross the line
  • Beat our times from last year

We beat the Cougar Hunters fair and square by over an hour, we finished as a team, we didn't go under 17 hours but we did finish in the same day, we were not the first all female team to cross the line but we think we may have been 2nd and we all beat our times from last year.

Starting at 6:00am seemed our preferred option so that we wouldn't have to weave through hundreds of people.

We started well, ran for the first few kms to get away from the crowd. There's nothing worse than not being able to get into rhythm when stuck behind someone much slower on a narrow track, especially knowing that the Cougar Hunters could be close.

The first leg was 17.6kms and was nothing too hard. Everyone was fresh and happy and so we reached check point 1 feeling fine with loads of energy and ahead of the Cougar Hunters. Lots of texts were coming through offering words of support which really helped and we shared them all with each other. Those texts REALLY lifted our spirits when things started to get a bit hard. Sharon was in fine form as she set the steady pace for us.

The second leg was 12.8kms and perhaps a little tougher but again, fresh legs and lots of energy and so nothing we couldn't handle and again Sharon keeping us at a good pace. It was when we reached check point 2 that things started to change. Just as we refuelled and were ready to go, the Cougar Hunters arrived looking good, all except Shayne that is. He looked like death and appeared very angry but, competition is competition and so I had no time for pondering on his problems.

The third leg, 15.6kms, was my strongest because I knew that the Cougar Hunters were way too close for comfort and I knew that, like us, they were just refuelling at the check points and it wasn't in their plan to stop for a rest. Suzie and I prefer to run over walking and so, stuck on a windy track, we started to jog along. We were up high and the views were stunning! Why didn't I bring my camera? Sharon and Philomen were behind us but keeping up at a distance. The pace was a tad too fast for the team and so we were forced to slow it down on the next leg which we knew was a very hilly and difficult leg.

Getting tired and sore, we had no idea how far the Cougar Hunters were from us but we were ahead. The fourth leg was the longest at 19.1kms but at least by this stage we were over the half way mark. Philomen took the lead as we followed her up those gruelling hills. They went on and on and our footing was very uneven. This leg took its toll on us, we were tired, it was a lonely trail as we had been on our own for a fair chunk of the time. The closest team on either side was way too far out of sight to seek comfort and support and that's where those texts messages meant the world to us.

Once leg 4 was out of the way I felt a tad better because from memory, that was the worst of it done. I was, however, getting to the point that I just wanted the whole thing over. What I know about myself though, is that I was committed to the finish and the only way to get to the finish was to keep going with my team mates who, thankfully, were as committed as I was. We had to stay focused on staying ahead of the Cougar Hunters, motivation enough for me!

With 3 much shorter legs to look forward to my expectation was that we'll be ok and get through. It was dark by this time and so we put on warmer clothing and head lights. I still hadn't changed my socks or shoes. I had blisters and thought it better to leave them well alone until the end. We all have different strategies where blisters are concerned and in my experience, leaving them works. It doesn't make them any better and blister prevention is the best option but once they are there, deal with it but get the job done first.

Leg 5 was only 6.3kms which took us to a total of 79.1. 21Kms to go and only 2 more legs! This was a good leg for us as it wasn't too hilly and saw us through to the next check point still ahead of the Hunters by about 30mins although I didn't feel confident about that as it is just like Shayne to pop up out of no where! We hadn't seen them since check point two and so it was looking good for us.

It was during this leg that I thought about the real reason for all of us out there attempting this event. Oxfam is a great charity and an easy way for me to help people that suffer through and endure the hardest of times. It helped me keep everything in perspective and clear any 'feeling sorry for myself' moments. I have endurance, I know that, but would I if I lived in Haiti or Samoa and I lost my home, my family with no food or clean water to drink? I'm not sure that I could but I CAN walk/run 100kms in support of Oxfam New Zealand.

7.7kms for the next leg. Apart from feeling exhausted with an aching body, the Watercare Cougars were going really well and hanging in to the bitter end.

The second from last leg was only 7.4kms. Clearly I had forgotten how hard that short leg was. The terrain in the dark was brutal! I strained my groin muscle and found it difficult to get over the stiles, we were all fatigued with aching bodies. Suzie seemed to come alive and scouted for us by running ahead and warning us what to be ready for. I enjoyed hearing the count down markers as she called out, "We've reached 84ks!" More hills followed by more hideous terrain in complete darkness. This was my least preferred leg and I couldn't wait to be on that last Taupo stretch along the water front.

Finally, the last leg and only 13kms to go. That's a short training walk. We were still semi hopeful that we could make it before midnight to have completed the whole 100kms within the same day and so we dug deep and set a good pace. The good thing about my team mates is that I trusted them to tough it out to the end and they did. We came in with 10 minutes to spare. We made it! An AWESOME feeling that I wish I could share with everyone.

PLEASE, PLEASE give it a go next year or encourage others to give it a go. It is the most character building, team bonding, group hugging, good deed ever!


Anonymous said...

Hi Mandy

Been eagerly waiting for this blog. Congrats to you all, what an achievement!!!! I can't wait to do this next year, I just have to find a team that is as committed to the charity and the challenge.

Thank you for sharing this.


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