Ed Said - Team 4PLAY Wham Bam thank you ma'am
No, I refuse to use the hackneyed phrase of Sir Ed Hillary but suffice it to say we ‘smoked‘ it. “It” being the annual Oxfam 100 km walk.
Given 36 hours to complete the task, on entry, Teams of four commit to raising funds for the Oxfam international aid group then undertake the 100km walk with a 36 hour time limit.
At the Taupo start line, our team of three gals and a guy – Mel Tito, Megan Bennett, Yvonne Boakes and yours truly – were set to go when Megan’s husband and team support man Simon fell ill with an undiagnosed problem on the eve of the event and required a stay in hospital. An added burden for Megan to carry.
Starting at Kinloch, the route comprised eight stages and encompassed the outer Taupo area and comprised walking tracks, forest tracks, mountain bike tracks, farm races, riverside tracks, criss-crossed the main highway and river, through lucerne and turnip fields, to a trig point at 550 metres and a fair amount of darkness depending on your pace.
We were a team of brisk walkers and despite our months of training which included almost daily marches of 10–20 km, nothing is quite like the real thing.
Starting in the dark at 6am in the relatively warm (for Taupo) temperature of 8C we were able to view some magnificent early sunrise scenery of the lake and surrounding bushland. We labelled ourselves in the ‘fast’ category, estimating 18-24 hours though expecting the later time most probable.
Our fitness stood us in good stead powering through the first 50 km in nine-and-a-half hours while limiting our stops to just 15 minutes. Support team Del and Kim busily attended to any food fads, quick massages or medical needs which, fortunately, were almost nil. However an early altercation with a rock and a tree root in the early half-light was beginning to take it’s toll on my protesting knees.
Shortly after the halfway mark we passed a struggling team and from there on we were never in sight of another which was a surprise. However we soldiered on making good time but steadying as we worked our way into darkness again with a little over 30 km to go. And while fatigue began to bite we were supported by the mild night temperature which was still 11C at midnight.
Relying largely on grit and electrolytes we doggedly battled on through a long final 10 km to cross the finish line in a little over 20 hours, the 22nd team to cross the line out of a starting line-up of 268 teams. Corrected time put us in 32nd place as some started at 6am and some at 7am.
The relief of finishing is hard to describe. One immediately feels renewed energy just knowing you don’t have to walk another step but cooling down can also be described as ‘seizing up’.
The prognosis? Few blisters, one pair of knees bowing to age, but overall, great satisfaction though we will probably leave the task to others in the future.
It needs to be said that Taupo is an amazing place for outdoor activity. Walking and running tracks, mountain bike tracks, horse riding trails, a car racing track, a horse racing track, a moto-X track, an equestrian centre and then there’s the lake and associated water sports.
The event itself was a great experience with organisation down to a tee – it had to be with almost 1200 walkers and support people and vehicles. Loads of staff and volunteers guiding road crossings and manning all points throughout the 36 hour period.
Near the highway motorists would toot and wave, kids on sidewalks held banners of encouragement and clapped as we passed and some set out fruit and drinks to help us on our way leaving us with good memories of a job well done.
A big shout-out too, to those who supported us with donations and encouragement through Facebook and texting as we went about our task. Mission accomplished.