Yeah doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as The Proclaimers had going for them… I do have a sneaky suspicion that I may well have walked a lot further than they really did though. Oh wow I’m completely off track before I even start this blog, hopefully that makes for a more interesting read… I’ll let you decide that.
Before my 33 years 33 challenges was even a thing, Kimberley had planted seeds about partaking in the Oxfam trailwalker. What is this she talks of? It’s walking 100kms around Taupo within 36 hours, with three others in a team, with a number of other equally mad people. This concept may have resulted in me asking Kimberley to be one of the chosen 33.
The wheels were set in motion and the practice walks were taking shape. As the months till the trailwalker become weeks, the training walks toned down, my gamy hip prevented me from training as much as I wanted to, mainly due to the half marathon I ran during the peak training period.
Oh wait, as I mentioned this 100km of madness was done with a team. Our team, ahh the infamous Bumble Crutch, winners of the logo competition and all around good gals, we were my good friend Kate become a member of the team, alongside Kimberley and Ange. Then there was the support crew, and what an epic bunch of peeps they were, Darusha, David, and my partner in drunken epicness and jumping out of perfectly good planes, Lynette.
Let’s get onto the event itself before I lose it completely, I’ll have to come back to the week that was with Ridgey in another blog.
Ok, it’s the night before the big event, we’ve all meet up in Taupo, registered our fine selves, got our team numbers and had our safety briefing, we may be ready to go… Now for that early night… yeah right. That in itself was a hard ask when you’re packing, unpacking, repacking what it is you think you’re going to need over a weekend of walking. You’re trying to think of the worst case scenarios without going into too much detail, and then also think of anything else that may come in handy. This may have resulted in us making friends with various places of business around Taupo from chemists to supermarkets.
We eventually get to bed, and have our alarms go at 4.00am, we had to be on the other side of Taupo at 4.50, to pick up the other half of the team, and get to the start line ready to go by 5.30am. By the time we pack Lynette’s truck, move what’s left out of our hotel room, into hers and close the place up, we’re already running well behind time. We make it the campsite and collect Kimberley and Ange, and find the start line with enough time to spare for a nervous weewee and a cup of coffee. It’s getting closer and closer to 6am, we leave Lynette to join the masses at the start, headlamps on and raring to go.
It’s so weird thinking back on this and trying to put it into words. I’ve avoided reading my friend’s blog to see how she described it as I didn’t want it to taint my perception, it’s just such a surreal thing to put the body and mind through. Nothing really prepared me for what it actually was, no training walk was a long, no all nighter was as enduring, no conversation as intense. Still it’s something I did, we did together, one step at a time.
We started in darkness, walking around the outskirts of Taupo, through the forest following the light of others and the markers we found along the way, like a long line of glow worms. The adrenaline or just perkiness from such an early start had us in good steed, the sun rose over the forest and made the path easier to find. Our first check point had us in good spirits, everything was functioning well, my hip was good, I was toasty warm and I had coffee in front of me. After a change of socks, and some proactive blister love we were back on our way. The next few check points may all be a bit of a blur and merged together now. We sat, we drank, we changed our socks, we ate, we peed and we continued on.
Kilometre after kilometre we weaved our way around Taupo, Dad jokes became mandatory for the person bringing up the rear of the team line, normally me, there was the obligatory calling of ‘root’ was a must for all, and at one point we even found Hobbiton or so we may have told our Aussie team member.
After a solid 11:06 we found the 50km marker, oh yeah!!! By this stage pain relief may have been taken off a stranger, the dad jokes were getting worse, eucalyptus undies and happy fingers may have also been invented. We were definitely on fine form and the day was a cracker. We were going strong, were all still talking to each other, able to crack a few laughs, have random twitter banter with other teams and most importantly (to me), the ginga had not yet fallen over. Epic WIN!
As the day began to draw to an end we pulled into the evening stop, a chance for us to take advantage of the awesome as podiatry and massage students. My feet have never felt a love like that before. As the shoes came off, it was becoming clear I had a number of hot spots coming through, and not to mention a couple of smallish blisters. It couldn’t have come at a better time to have them seen too, even though it did take a lot longer than I’d planned.
Once I was all strapped up, it was a mission to get to the others, inhale some food change into my night gears and stress out epically over not being able to find the one warm jersey I had brought with me especially for this. This definitely wasn’t a high point for me, but anyways, all was eventually sorted and my jersey was found in a random cardboard box, of course, and off we set, only 15 minutes later than we planned.
As the sun went down, we walked through the Taupo township and around the lake front before disappearing up into the hills and back into the unknown. It became very clear during the night legs that a lot of people really didn’t know how to act with headlamps on. More often than not you’d find yourself blinded by a stranger when you said excuse me, or you found them waiting for their team to catch up, definitely think it’s something to be added to the health and safety briefing next year.
Walking through the night was so bizarre for a number of reasons. It wasn’t the swede field, it wasn’t the many cliff faces we walked along, it wasn’t the annoying groups who had speakers and were playing terrible music, it wasn’t the inability to know where we were, it wasn’t even the fact that there was a lot of random noises, or the fact that we were being led through the unknown by an Aussie. For me it was all the years of horror movies coming back to haunt me, especially when it was my turn at the front. My imagination was running wild with so many scenes and scenarios all playing themselves out. It took a hell of a lot of concentration and brain power to keep them at bay. So when I then see a glove on the side of the track out of the corner of my eye, I miss the giant ‘root’ in front of me, and all of a sudden it’s ginga down… So what noise does a ginga make when she falls over in a forest?!?! Noises that shan’t be written in a blog that’s for sure. I’d come so far without tripping, I was so proud of myself, and then in the tiredness, it all came to a halt. Never fear though, my ginga reflexes had me up and moving around pretty quickly. The last I needed was to stand still, assess the situation properly and let me knee lock up, so on we continued, potentially with me back at the rear and thinking of more dad jokes.
As night went on I was continually surprised by the number of people walking by themselves, saying they were either catching up with their teams, doing it alone, or waiting for the teams to catch up with them. It just didn’t make sense, we were told that you walk as a team, and you stayed with your team. The only time you split was if members retired, and if you got down to two you joined with another team. Safety first people!!
The 80km mark was a biggie, the Aid station… Kimberley had filled our head with thoughts of hot chips that had been given out in previous years, and the option for more podiatry if needed… If needed, hell yeah it was needed. By this point, my feet were really starting to feel it. So off came the shoes, and me feet were in the hands of a podiatry students, oh man I feel for her. I was warned about one of my blisters exploding in the next few kms, and a couple of the others getting worse… Good times ahead for me… Luckily I had hot chips, they always make for a better place. From the seat I was sitting in, and the view I had of what was happening to one of my team members…
The sun came up, two marathons were completed and I was slowly starting to break. I kept thinking about how two years ago I never would’ve been able to do anything like this, now I’m pushing my body to all kinds of extremes, and it keeps taking it. My hip was still good, my knee may have doubled in size, and my feet weren’t happy, but I was still going. Nothing was going to stop me from finishing this.
At the last check point, we were so close. David joined us on the last stage and provided a good distraction to how I was feeling at the start, but as the steps kept going the pain kept increasing. I’d never felt pain like this before in my life, it was excruciating. The pace slowed dramatically in our second 50kms, and even more so on that last leg.
The power of voxer kept me going, hearing the message of encouragement from my family and friends, especially my niece kept me in check, I was feeling the love big time.
As we stepped down past the bungee and swing onto the track to lead us to the finish line, one of my blisters popped, sending me into a spiral of self-doubt and not wanting to go on. I did though, I had to, nothing was going to stop me, especially not myself.
The emotion I was feeling was so raw, I was tearing up what felt like every 5 minutes, and had to walk in front a bit to hide it. As the finish line came into sight, the feeling of relief encompassed me. I didn’t feel any excitement toward crossing the line, or receiving my medal, or even the realisation of what I’d just completed. All I saw was the chair in the distance that I needed to sit on so I could remove my shoes and see what was happening to my feet.
Kate had her priorities right, and the Moet was popped, with a glass put in my hand, it was very much-needed as the shoes came off. One I could take off, but the other no such luck, that needed help. Anyways, I’ll stop here before it gets too gross, and you don’t read any more of my blogs.
After some more sitting, the realisation of the epicness came over me, holy cow, we’d walked 100km in 27:32:01. Go us!!!
That definitely deserved the massage afterward. After a bit more sitting the plan was hatched to go back to the hotel for a much needed nap and refuelling. I couldn’t get the thought of fish and chips out of my head, and at 10am I really wasn’t sure this would be a goer. After a mission to find a bucket (or baby bath as it turned out to be) to soak my poor feet in, pick up a few refuelling necessities, a fish and chip shop was found. Absolute WIN!!
This is where I was left, on the couch, feet soaking in the baby bath and fish and chips on my lap. I couldn’t have been happier, well until I napped that was. Post nap, Kate and I talked through the past 27 hours and where it was we’ve both come from to even be able to contemplate finishing something like this. That’s a whole other blog there.
It’s taken me a bit to get this one written. Yet the timing of writing it now seems almost perfect, as exactly two weeks on, I lost my two little toe nails to the trailwalker gods.