you like to run 100km with us? That was the question I was asked 10 months
ago by the Valley Vets. At first, the idea did not excite me very much
but later on I found the proposal quite challenging.
The event is called the Oxfam Trailwalker and I am told that it is one
of the toughest team challenges in the world. It is an endurance event in which
teams of four attempt to complete a 100km trail within 48 hours through bushland.
In addition they must also raise at least $1,000 to help to support the work
of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad.
Community Aid Abroad is part of the Oxfam International network. Through
a network of autonomous Oxfam agencies throughout the world, Oxfam Community
shares educational and campaign resources and co-operates in development projects
and disaster relief. They work in more than 30 countries across East
and South Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Central America and Indigenous
Australia, in partnership with local communities to overcome poverty and
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad's vision is for a fair world in which people control
their own lives, their basic rights are achieved and the environment is sustained.
Right now, Oxfam is providing substantial support to areas affected by the Tsunami
and as there has been such an overwhelming response to the Tsunami appeal, the
money raised for Oxfam Trailwalker will continue to be directed to support ongoing
program activities including the long term development programs operating in
affected areas such as India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Additionally,
it is important that they retain existing development programs in 30 countries
around the world and those other hotspots such as Sudan and the Solomon
Islands continue to receive the funding they require.
To participate in the event would not only provide me with a valuable and unique
experience but make a genuine difference to the world. That sounded good to
me and as Oxfam trailwalker patron, author and marathon runner Bryce Courtenay
says," Every step you take along the Trail is a step towards a better
life for poor communities the world over".
For more information on Oxfam visit www.oxfam.org.au
I started training for it 6 months ago. Building
up mileage slowly, from 50km to 120km per week. The long runs got longer as
well, from 20km to 50km, usually on Sunday morning. Sometimes, I would join
the rest of the team for a long run on the actual trail, practising eating and
drinking on the run.
The going got tough toward the end as I started to get injuries which interfered
with my training. I started to question if I would be able to cover the distance.
On one occasion, I had to pull out of a training run after only 45km, I was
completely exhausted and I injured one of my knees in the process. My spirit
was at an all time low. My team mates were experienced, having participated
already twice in the event. They wanted to break their record and maybe win
the race and here I was wondering if I could make it to the finish, eventually!
The pressure was on me and I was stressing big time.
Valley Vets team.
Rob Wendel (captain), Robyn Broberg, Didier Martin and Gary Hammett.
We turned up at Jells Park in Wheelers Hill on Friday 1st of April
with 417 other teams of 4 for the journey to Mt Donna Buang. The promise
of a 30 degrees day did not seem to alter the enthusiasm of everyone.
8am on the dot the gun went and so did we. The plan was to take it easy and
I stayed behind my three buddies as Gary set the pace. Two friends of ours,
David Armstrong and Rod Mothersole, had decided to run with us
in some of the legs. Being the weakest link of the team I needed all the help
I could get so I asked David to carry my fuel belt. There are check points along
the course where each team has to record their passage. Our support crew (wives
and partners) were waiting for us at every 10km
so. Sue (my own support crew) would have a chair ready for me with food,
change of clothes, shoes and drinks available. She also would fill up my drinking
bottles for me. The first few stops did not take more than 5 minutes but they
started to get longer as the race went on.
Rob Wendel, our team captain, started to suffer from cramps after only
25km in the race. Some massages and stretching seemed to help a little but he
could not shake them off completely. He battled on. Two years ago, cramps forced
him out of the event after 60km putting the team out as well. No doubt that
an identical thought was playing on his mind.
35km we reached the bottom of Mount Dandenong where 880 steps were waiting
for us. We climbed them in silence, focusing on the task while sweat poured
off our bodies. Gary was
an unusual condition for the man, somehow, things were not going well for him.
By then, we were in 8th position fighting with a couple of other teams. Despite
high heat and cloudless skies we were ahead on our schedule time by 15 minutes.
Our spirits were good
We reached the Warburton trail by 3.30pm, 40km to the finish line and
facing a long and boring 30km flat stretch. I was feeling good by then, my self-confidence
was back and I knew that I would make it to the finish. I moved to the front
of the group, setting the pace. We overtook another team and found ourself in
6th spot, 70 minutes behind the leaders.
into the run Gary started to cramp badly and started to complain of chest
pain. Eventually he had to stop running, screaming with pain, and we all started
to walk. He was not able to eat or drink but kept soldering on. We still had
25km to go, Gary was vomiting but still determined to keep going. Two teams
overtook us putting us back in 8th position. At the 85km mark I suffered an
asthma attack and struggled to get to our support crew to get my Ventolin inhaler.
By the time we reached the bottom of Mt Donna Buang I was right again but facing
the last leg, a gruelling 9km straight up the mountain in total darkness. Gary
was better and setting the pace at the front with me right behind, all of us
wearing lamps. We caught up and
one team on the first half. Gary kept on talking to himself, a good sign, all
was normal again. He kept farting as well with me right behind with my mouth
open and everything. We caught up to another team yet again but our captain
called for a drink stop, we had to let them go, a
disappointment for Gary and I.
What about Robyn? I hear you asking, you never mention him. Well, I never mention
him because there is nothing to say, the man is a machine, he never complains
or bickers, just goes along minding his business. He will occasionally drop
names like "when I did the Comrade marathon
" but that's it,
he just keeps going with his Duracell batteries inside him.
With less than 4 km to the finish we had caught up again with the preceding
team with nothing stopping us to pass them, well that's what I thought but our
esteemed captain had other ideas. With the finish so close he had to look his
best for the photo, so he called his support crew and requested a clean and
fresh shirt to change in. Never mind,
Our team captain, Rob Wendel, one of
the big boys at EDS, has been using his influence with the company
for the last 3 years to get them to sponsor our team which supplied our superb
uniforms. Rob's management skills and attention to detail (even without his
PA??) provided us with the information we needed to prepare ourselves.
Our support crew did a superb job as well, providing us with smiling
faces and encouragements all the time. We definitly could not have done it
without you, well done to all of you.
So, Am I happy with our performance ? You'd
better believe it but there is still some unfinished business as we all know
that we can do better than that.
Next year will be the one
so see you there.
Before I go I would like to say thank you
so much to all of you
generous people out there for your donations. Because of you I have exceeded
my target of $700 and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
For those of you who have meant to donate but didn't get around to it, don't
worry the donation line is open until the 31st of May. If you don't want to
put your credit card on-line please contact me and I will issue you with a cash
To donate online go to http://www.oxfam.org.au/trailwalker/donate/
Simply fill in the donation form including the drop boxes.
Team name: Valley Vets
Team number: 005
will catch them next year. We still managed to pass another team just meters
from the finish line, one of their members was not feeling good at all and his
team members were holding him up while we sneaked pass.
We got over the line at 11.16pm exhausted but relieved. Robyn turned out to
be human after all as he got very unwell for a couple of hours after the finish,
he still managed to mention the Comrade though.
After 15hours and 16 minutes of running and walking we had finally reach the
end, in 6th place overall and first in our age category (over 40). We also had
broken the course record for the valley Vets by 25 minutes.
Out of the 418 teams 57% finished as complete teams of 4, the last one crossing
the finishing line in 47 hours and 34 minutes, just before the time limit of
48 hours. I am also told that the Fundraising is breaking records with more
than half a million already raised.
la version française du journal,
Pour revenir à la version française du site, cliquez