TRIP REPORT – OXFAM TRAILWALKER, JUNE 2019

So, my fellow scout leader Hawk had a brilliant thought:

We should walk the Oxfam Trailwalker.

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Oxfam Trailwalker is a challenging event that changes lives. Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane, 21-23 June 2019, sees teams walking 100km or 55km through the beautiful D’Aguilar National Park.

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The Trailwalker event is not just a tough physical challenge, it is also a rewarding fundraising challenge, with teams raising funds to support people living in poverty around the world.

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Thankfully, Hawk had a moment of sanity and signed us for the short course (55 klicks) as opposed to the long course (100 klicks).

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We needed a team of four…

so Hawk having the gift of the gab (way more than me) managed to convince his wife Reggie and our fellow scout leader Echidna to join us. We decided on a team name of The Follies, because we assumed there’d be some regrets over this later.

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Then we had the relatively easy task of recruiting a support team whilst we were participating in the event. That was a bit easier, we just Shanghai’d our Cub leader Arika, her husband Craig and our old Group leader Rikki into coming along.

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We’ve been training for the last few months.

Here’s one of our training walks where I was carrying my eldest daughter in my Crossfire DG-16 and pushing my youngest daughter in her stroller.

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Except illness kept knocking me on my backside. No training for me for the last five weeks prior to the event, I was even sick in bed the weekend prior!

I had serious doubts about whether I’d be able to complete this one.

Fortunately most of my training normally is at heavy weights of about 25 kilograms at 6 kilometers distance conducted at a pace that is as hard and as fast as I can go.

That, my base fitness and I’ve been doing long distance walking for so long (I can do it half dead or fully drunk since I was a younger bloke) is probably the only reason I was able to complete the event.

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Saturday the 22nd of June started rather early and rather crisp at 5degC.

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There was a bit of self doubt amongst some of the team. Rikki when dropping us off at the Lake Manchester start point, even had doubts about me, due to my coughing, spluttering and hacking up phlegm.

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There was a couple of hundred people at the 55km’s start point. But our plan was to let them go and just walk our own pace at the back of the pack. It was a sound strategy. We started walking at about 0700hrs.

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The first checkpoint at Scrub Road was 19 kilometers in – just in time for lunch at 1240hrs.

Hawk and myself knew the area quite well since our Scouts had conducted patrol activities (overnight hiking) in the area and we’d walked in as safety team for them a couple of years ago.

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What was surprising was the amount of bibs from walkers who had retired.

We all conducted a quick check of feet and kit, had some lunch (jam sandwich, cuppa soup and a mug of tea for me) and kept on rocking.

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Checkpoint 2 – Bellbird Grove, was 35 kilometers in.

Coming into the checkpoint was interesting, there was a lot of people coming out of the checkpoint onto the next one thought I was far too cheerful.

We arrived there at 1730hrs in time for dinner. Soup and sushi with chairs and blankets from our support crew.

I re-taped my feet since the distance was starting to make its presence felt.

It was at Checkpoint 2 that half our team decided to retire due to injury. Reg and Echidna were carrying joint or muscle strain. Hawk and I decided we were good enough to keep pushing on.

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Checkpoint 3 was at Enoggera Dam, 43 kilometers in. Our support crew were still dropping the girls off, so we had a quick brew and kept on pushing the last 14 klicks.

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I have to say, the last ten klicks started getting horrendous for me. We hit Gap Creek Reserve in Brookfield (literally just down the road from my place) and went straight up Mt Coot Tha.

My feet were feeling the simple effects of pure physical impact from such a distance, and my knees were starting to act up. Worst of all was the effect fatigue had on my mental and physical faculties. I was starting to lose concentration, which could have had bad implications if I’d tripped over. I haven’t felt that bad since some dark days playing soldiers on my recon course many years ago.

Watching fellow participants experience similar issues certainly helped improve my morale.

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Hawk and myself crossed at line at 55 kilometers after 18 hours and three minutes.

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I’ll take this opportunity to thank my fellow teammates from The Follies and our lovely support team – couldn’t have done without you.

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EQUIPMENT:

It was a pretty light load for this trip given the distance and terrain.

Clothing consisted of my usual walking attire of Propper 100% cotton ripstop BDU cut shirt and trousers with a cotton scarf.

My usual belt was the OV Innovations UP belt (review seen HERE).

Boots were my Crossfire Peacekeepers.

Of course, I wore my “lucky hat” – an old green bush hat. For some reason, most blokes think it’s quite fetching.

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Most women however, seem to think it’s horrible.

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As a Scout Leader nowadays, I also carry a walking stick to aid traversing rough terrain and “gently” guide any of my wayward Scouts from doing anything too silly.

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In my Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack, was:

  • 2L of water in a Source bladder
  • Vertx smock
  • Team first aid kit
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • iPod and earphones
  • Goalzero power bank
  • Snacks

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Total load was no more than 5 kilograms total.

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EVENT AFTERMATH:

Physical recovery wasn’t too bad after this event. By Day 2 my leg muscles were recovered.

Although it was still a bit painful to walk up and down slopes for the next week.

Two bruised toenails from repeated physical impact over such a large distance.

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The walk was started with one blister and only one more blister was added.

All up, the Oxfam Trailwalker was a challenging event across beautiful terrain, conducted with a great team and support crew.

I’ll thank my team “The Follies” and our support crew once more for the great time. I’m definitely starting to look forward to next year. 


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