Shredding The Balloon…

Many people have asked why the space between posts as the team was well on track to deliver one blog a week for the year. Well to be honest the team pushed themselves to the extreme the last couple of weeks and really found their limits both mentally and physically. What is something that they normally wouldn’t consider doing the team decided to challenge themselves and raise a little cash for a good cause at the same time. Enter the Oxfam Trailwalker Series. A bunch of hikes designed to raise money to combat poverty around the globe as well as test those participating in the walk.

To start with the fundraising model is actually quite smart ensuring that each team raises a certain amount of cash before they do the walk. Not to mention the entry fee you need to pay as well. So before you even start the walk you need to come up with $500 and once that’s done you need to raise $1600 before you can actually start walking. Anything on top of that is a bonus and the more you raise the more things become accessible to you. Like what you ask well to start with there’s names instead of numbers on your race bibs, the opportunity to have your own portaloo at each checkpoint, the chance to win a GPS device for your team. Oh did we mention it was a team based charity walk? Well it’s a team based event consisting of 4 team members which we’ll introduce to you over the next couple of chapters.

With two options in length, of the walk people! Come on we aren’t talking about wood so get your mind out of the Bunnings catalogue. It was only natural we’d pick the longer of the two as our superman complex kicked in and we saw a need to prove a point to the doubters in our world. So straight off the bat the 55km was scratch off the list and 100km was signed, sealed and, hopefully delivered. By the end of this blog you’ll see whether we actually made it or not. Now to pick a team of suitable pundits to embark on this silly journey with. Here’s where the hilarity ensued as we tried to screen suitable candidates. Our criteria wasn’t as strenuous as some of the interviews we’ve attended in the past consisting of two main criteria.

The first being that they need to be able to at least make the majority of the distance, the second being that we needed to be able to put up with them for an extended period of time up to 48hrs. So with the hunt for team mates well under way it wasn’t long before we filled our first slot. For privacy reasons we’ll call him the ‘Legal Beagle’, part super lawyer, part dad, he was an easy pick for the team given his natural fitness and ability to entertain with his random fun facts. He is often referred to as Captain Google in close friend circles. The Beagles analytical nature and want to win all the time made the number pick in the draft to walk with, pun possibly intended there we aren’t 100% sure.

As the weeks dragged closer and closer it looked highly unlikely that we would be entering the walk as the Beagle and Boss struggle to find the third and fourth members of their team. No foursome meant no walk and no walk would mean, well they would both have a weekend to do whatever they damn liked without having to stress out about how they would make it through 100kms of walking. As other teams grew around them the twosome wondered whether they would indeed to the walk. Alas someone heard their pleas and came to their rescue. In the aid of what would be two unlikely heroes we’ll call them the Receptionist and the Accountant fitting names to round out the team.

In what sounds like a group of misfit vigilantes ready to keep the criminals off the streets of Brisbane the team of walkers were formed. Each one brought something different to the team, each one had a unique character that would come out and entertain the others at some point during the 100km walk. There would be moments throughout the walk in which they would need to lean on one another, draw strength and most all encourage each other to continue putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until they reached the finishing line. So with the team now assembled, they began training, well the majority did the Boss was a little busy re-living yesteryear on the hockey pitch and isn’t the biggest fan of early mornings walk around a mountain.

Lists were made, provisions purchased, maps read and supplies stockpiled. Many a review was read about the best shoes, walking poles, power gels, hydration and packs before they were purchased and apartment tested for the big day. So back to the two newest members of the squad the receptionist well he’s a character all in himself. He’s a contradiction of a man who loves fine things and yet has hippyish free spirit about him that fights with his want to be rich and have nice things. The accountant on the other hand seems to like to have a little bit of fun, enjoys a drink or two but has his head screwed on. So while the Boss frolicked around the hockey field the rest of the team trained most weekends in preparation for the walk.

With two of the team having already attempted to complete the 100km beast, there were no illusions about how hard it was going to be. But there is a difference between knowing something is going to be hard and actually experiencing just how hard it is. Which was a lesson that all team would learn over the of the 2nd last weekend in June. They would each have a different build up to the day but they would bind together once they started on a journey that would be mind changing and mind blowing well for some of them, that’s the thing with experiences and journeys everyone takes something different from them. They walk awaying with something that is everlasting, always a memory that they can reflect back on in years to come.

As the morning dawned the team were all up early and preparing to take on the challenge as best they could. Running late the Boss and the Beagle missed breakfast after planning a Maccas coffee and McMuffin but instead had to settle on a petrol station sausage rolls and pies. Discussing this down the track with the Legal Beagle it may have led to some complications for the Boss during the walk which provided the team with a lot of laughs throughout the walk but we’ll get to that later down the line and no doubt introduce you all to the wonderful world of walking. Walking you say that’s easy well that’s what our four friends thought before that buzzer sounded at 8:30am on Friday the 21st of June.

The team were a little delayed and ended at the back of the pack with plenty of people to wade past on there way to the finish line. This was due to the receptionist come Team leader giving a command despite the teams questioning of said command. So they finally crossed the start line and began a game that would last all day and through the night. Little did they know this game would actually spur them on and lift their spirits at the lowest of times throughout the walk. Along with the Boss’s need for a tune or two about walking or with walking lyrics and they were set with fun and games. If you throw in the Legal Beagle’s love of a good statistic or knowledge dump about science then they had the entertainment portion of the walk covered.

Set in amongst the national parks and reserves of Brisbane’s Mt Glorious, Mt Nebo and Mt Cootha the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker is like being on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight well at least that’s how it’s been described to us. Taking a look at the topographical maps we can see that there are a fair few hills to ascend and descend along the route with some dramatic changes in altitude as you start your walk through D’Aguilar National Park and wind your way towards Lake Manchester but before we get there we’ll give you an insight into the mindset and bodies of the team as they trek to waypoint three which is just under half way (45km). To start with the team were setting a cracking pace between the startline and checkpoint one walking a very decent clip of 6km p/hr.

Making their way to checkpoint two they were still setting a reasonable pace and had worked out they were faster up the hills than going down them. The minds were still strong and the legs were feeling great, spirits were high as they entered their second checkpoint for the day passing by a happy volunteer dressed as Zorro, with a foam finger motioning them towards the checkpoint, well we think it was Zorro but then again dehydration may have started to set in. They could fill up on water, get some food and recharge for a couple of minutes before setting out on the trail again. It was at this point that things started to get interesting for the Boss and hilarious for the rest of the team. Just a kilometer past the check the Boss started sweating profusely, yes the hills were strenuous but this was something else entirely.

Gut cramps wreaked havoc as he staggered along the trail. His team mates a little concerned at the amount of sweat pouring out of him. Finding a tree he urinated relieving some tension on his stomach but it still wasn’t enough another 500 meters down the track and he was wrench with more gut craps. Within seconds he was on the side of the track pants around his ankles releasing the demons from within. The nausea and pain he’d been feeling were now replaced by the pungent smell that covered the ground below him that he quickly tried to cover up with biodegradable baby wipes after cleaning his bottom. Oh and you thought this was over it was the beginning of what was dubbed the “Gascapades” and a severe case of swamparse. Feeling better well moderately better he trudged on with the rest of the team embarrassed and ashamed of what he’d just done.

With checkpoint three insight and the legs starting to tire, blisters and bruising starting to grace their feet the team strode into the checkpoint well ahead of the time they thought they would. The dinner was the best thing they’d had to eat in a long time and who would have thought a simple tuna pasta bake could taste so delicious. The Boss had rekindled his love of Tuna and the team were energized and ready to continue what was now starting to feel like a vietnamese concentration camp death march. Three BBB cream was applied to prevent chafe and aid those who already had chafe, massages were given, blisters lanced and water refilled. Off into the night they set head torches lighting the way as they stumbled towards the finish line.

With tired legs, chaffed arse cheeks, blistered feet and a range of other ailments the team found the second half hard going but surprises were a foot and swamparse, so was the methane power needed to get them up and down the hills. As they crossed a small creek a slithering friend reared its head as the accountant stepped right over it, kicked it and then ran for the hills while the receptionist decided to play Steve Irwin and attempt to flick the snake away. The rest of the team skirted around it as quickly as possible before the little slithering snake could take a chunk out of them or poison them. Although at the time they were probably hoping the snake would bite them and put them out of their misery.

Checkpoints passed and water packs were refilled filled, delirium began to set in and the Boss was not making a lot of sense as they stumbled along into the darkness. Foot after foot they continued minds and bodies fighting with one another. The body slowly getting ready to keel over at the first possible option and assume the fetal position. The mind willing on the body to finish to reach that finish line to cross the pain barrier and achieve something that people didn’t think they could or would achieve. As morale dimmed they leant on each other to provide a boost to the team that was sorely needed. Along with the cuppa soups and hot chocolates the sugar boosts were helping push the team along.

With the sun beginning to rise they climbed the last peak of the hike. The excitement grew knowing that once they reached the summit it was all downhill into the finish line. At least they could all roll downhill to make it home. According to the team whilst there was excitement that they were going to make it to the finish line and actually walk 100km in under 24 hours there was still the pain and ongoing internal struggle. Silence washed over the team as they ascended the peak and descended down the other side. A euphoria washing over them as they saw the finish line below, the green of the inflatable line like the lushest grass they had ever seen and actual grass. The shoes would be coming off and the wet grass felt between their toes.

Twenty three hours and twelve minutes later they had completed a course of 100km that wound up and down mountains, across creeks, over uneven terrain, having to use ropes and deal with both physical pain and mental pain including blisters, chafing, bruising and muscular cramping. When asked later what the toughest part of the walk was most of the walkers would agree it was the mental fight with themselves. The internal struggle of whether to give in to the pain or put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Whether to keel over and just sleep where their body fell the cold engulfing them as they rocked themselves to sleep. Literally what happened to most of the team once they made it home and had a shower.

So as we tally up the walk on an individual level there were over 25 litres of water consumed, over 8 sandwiches, 8 coffees, 2 cuppa noodle soups, 2 energy gels, half a box of glucose tablets, 5 muesli bars, a couple of bags of lollies and two bowls of Tuna pasta bake with croutons. That’s how much food was consumed on an individual level by each member of the not so funny titled team of Four Guys one Trek, some may of eaten more than others and some may have had more gut cramps and had to the crap on the side of the trail more than others. They had made it! The physical pain was over for the time being until delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) kicked in a couple of days later. They joy and elation felt as they crossed the finish line mixed in with other emotions.

As we close this chapter of A Mind of Its Own we take our hats off to the boys and the effort to raise some funds for a good cause and soldier on through 100km of torment. Those physical and mental pain barriers that were pushed through, the self doubt, the self loathing and self chafing. Well done guys, it’s an achievement and one done in a great time with a great bunch of blokes who pushed each other through to the end. If you are looking for a challenge and a good way to raise some money we recommend you look into doing this or just jump on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight.