This year TPL founder Kerryann Hayes & three of her friends signed up for the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker Challenge. For many of our readers, this is where you first met us as the girls were interviewed on Sunrise as they ran across the line! Sharron Brown shares her experience of the challenge.
The request to be part of a team to do the Oxfam Walk came at a particularly busy time in my year but I figured does life ever really slow down; will there ever be a better time? So I gingerly (that’s a pun if you know what I look like) raised my hand & joined a team of what I felt (& still feel) were equally motivated & competitive women.
Squeezing training in around the schedules of four equally busy women’s lives was not as challenging as I’d imagined. All of us committed to the cause & juggled our work & family lives to maximise our chance of completing the event. We didn’t go overboard with the training; I reckon we did a maximum of 10 training walks together & the rest of our fitness was up to us as individuals.
I love that we raised money for such a great charity. Oxfam’s arms reach out not only internationally but also within Australia. It wasn’t a struggle to raise the necessary funds to compete; friends & family happily donated to the cause, often accompanied by sniggers & smirks about our sanity.
I’d never contemplated entering a long distance event prior to this so I guess my pre-event nerves surrounded whether or not I would make the finish line. As a team we’d discussed the possibility that any one of us could experience physical issues on the day that would cause a withdrawal from the event but none of us wanted to be that person. The Oxfam walk is a team event but it also challenged me as an individual to be as physically & mentally prepared as I could be so that something preventable wouldn’t be the cause if I had to withdraw. I listened to every piece of advice (often with a filter) aiming to be part of a team that did cross the finish line.
If I needed reassurance of the inner strength of our team it was provided first thing on race day. Our train to the start line missed the stop & took us on to the next station! We weren’t the only team to face this challenge but despite our pre-race nerves our team reacted calmly and responded positively which I figured was a good early indication of our harmony & potential as a team.
I think the best part of the race (apart from finishing) was the feeling I’d get at every checkpoint. Despite intermittent rain & plenty of water crossings I never felt cold, tired or hungry & this I attribute to the encouragement & preparedness of our support crew. They received us at every checkpoint with a smile & genuine concern. I felt like a boxer returning to my corner each time (although it wouldn’t bode well for a boxer to eat between rounds like I did). With an eye on the clock we were seated & given a towel, dry socks, a fabulous array of hot & cold food & our drink bottles refilled. I’d leave every checkpoint feeling significantly stronger than when I’d arrived.
The hardest part of the race for me was one of the shortest sections in the last quarter of the event. Despite being graded as a level 2 section, distances seemed a lot further & time seemed to slow. I think I expected this section of the race to be easier than it was but because it was dark & I was tiring, this leg of the event was endless.
I would definitely do this event again with this team of women. I’ve tried to replay the 100km in my head but find a lot of my memory of the event quite fuzzy. It wasn’t uncommon for our team to take a wrong turn & have to backtrack to find the correct path. I suspect I was frequently in the lead when turns were missed & time & energy wasted but my recollection is that we were more likely to laugh than respond negatively at these times.
I felt a huge inner strength at the end of the race that I suspect is quietly addictive. Even now (two weeks later) I find that I continue to mentally revisit parts of the event & am possibly “grieving” the loss of the training & the feeling of expectation surrounding the challenge.
For a different view on the Oxfam Trailwalker, read about Julie's experience HERE