Monday, January 21, 2008

The Oxfam 100km in 36 hours Challenge

I made a decision in the weekend. It was an extremely difficult one, and one that even though I feel is wise under the circumstances, makes me feel as if I’m inadequate for not being able to complete a goal this year. But all is not lost. Let me explain…

I’ve been training for the Oxfam challenge for the last three months. The Oxfam is an off-road challenge where you need to walk 100km in 36 hours. The team is made up of four walkers, plus the support crew. All four walkers in the team have to complete the full 100km to pass the challenge, and all four have to pass each checkpoint (four in total) together. The point of the challenge is to raise money for Oxfam, and as a team we need to raise $2000. The team includes both walkers and the support people. The walk is on the weekend of the 5th and 6th April.

We’ve been training in the Woodhill Forest, week after week, as well as going to the gym, running, and walking midweek. We’ve got up to 6 hours in a stretch in the forest, and this Sunday we’re walking 7 to 7.5 hours – about 40km. I’ve only missed one training session in the whole 3 months. Our team consists of Derek (Coach), Lara, Debbie, Saluma, Jackie, Sheila, Fran and myself. However, only four can walk it, so decisions need to be made on who is going on the team this year, and who will be the support crew. We will be doing it again next year as well, and those who are on the support crew this year, will walk it next year, which is why all is not lost!

From left to right - Shelia, Debbie, Derek, Jackie, Fran, Lara. I'm taking the photo so I don't break the camera! See the greenstuff under their feet? Thats some kind of herb - probably catnip, and when you walk on it, gives off an amazing minty aroma as you walk. Bliss!

I’m fast in the forest, and have no trouble completing those hours and keeping up, even though my feet scream with blisters most of the time. But after 6 hours, I’m totally knackered. At this stage there is no way I can walk 100km. I have admitted as much, and told everyone I will be on support rather than walk it. However, reserves are needed as anything can happen on the day, so I will continue the training.

This road goes for 12.5km and we walk it every week. It seems to go on and on and on and on and on! Very pretty for the first hour, and then it loses some of it's appeal!

Last weekend we trained in the Waitakere Ranges, rather than in the forest, as we needed hills. It was there I realized I was holding up the team. My balance or lack of it, meant that climbing up and climbing down steep terrain I was slower, and needed help, where speed was necessary to complete it in time. A stick would not have helped as this terrain was very steep. I ended up feeling very guilty as I was stopping the people who are going to be walking from training properly for the event. The terrain made me feel dizzy and nauseous and my balance was definitely off – quite dangerous really. However, I didn’t know this would happen until I tried, and I’m still learning my limitations, no matter how annoyed at myself for having some.

So…. I will continue to train with the team in the forest. We don’t know how many will drop out due to injury or sickness as yet, and I still may be needed on the day. If I am not needed, I will be part of the support crew getting food and drinks throughout that 36 hours. I may even walk some of the way with the team as one extra person is allowed to walk one leg of the challenge.

But for the training that takes place in the Waitakere ranges where it’s steep and rough – I will still pitch up. I may walk for an hour or two with the group, but will then go back to the car and meet them at checkpoints with food and water so they don’t have to carry so much during the day. This suits me fine as I will be able to take my camera gear into the forest and take proper photos. My camera gear is too heavy if I’m training, the photos I have been taking have been with my daughter’s Fuji point and shoot.

1000 year old kauri Tree in Waitakere Ranges walk. This tree was so tall/big I had to take 3 photos on wide angle, and stitch them together later.

I’m still pretty proud of myself that despite my disability, I’ve still achieved some amazing results. Just to give you an idea of what having no balance means, when I walk, nothing stays still. Everything moves up and down as you move up and down. Much like looking through a video camera with no image stabilizer. And yes – you can feel quite seasick at times. I’m proud to still be part of the team, and if I don’t walk this year, I’ll try again next year.

In the meantime – if you would like to make a donation to my team, no matter how small, it would be really appreciated. Just go to the following website and click on the green ‘make a donation’ button. Oxfam Website to make a donation. Or if you click on the orange Support a Team logo at above right, this will take you right to our teams donation page. Your support will be invaluable, and you will be supporting me as part of that team.


Anonymous said...

Really admire your commitment to the walks and the team. I'm sure if I was feeling nauseous in the morning I would have "phoned in sick" so good on you! Love the photos - wish I had your eye for detail. I must take more notice of our beautiful surroundings in future. Look forward to seeing you on the upcoming training walks.

Robyn said...

Can't phone in sick - can't hear on the phone, besides, I'm too scared of Derek. If I phoned in sick, the following week he would make me walk on the beach or up hilly sandhills in punishment. Better that I take the chance, and if I collapse then he has to carry me back to the car!!


Fiaenn said...

It's great thing. One I took a part in similar event in my town, in Walkathon, that was much shorter distance to walk - about 10 miles and for every mile we walked sponsor gave money to charity organizations. I think it's a great idea :)
(Absolutely amazing photos :))

Anonymous said...

Robyn as a fellow team member it is good to see that you will still be part of the crew as we move to 10 hour walks - after our hot 8 hour walk on the weekend when we ran out of water, we all realised how critical the support crew is to achieving this. It really is a whole team event. Deb

Anonymous said...

Robyn, I also admire your courage and commitment. You have walked for hours feeling nauseated and this last weekend with blisters on both feet. You have done it with a smile and a joke. The decision that you made to move to the support team also took courage, I know how determind you were to do this walk. As Deb says the role of support crew is proving to be critical and I am pleased that you remain part of the team.