Oxfam Trailwalker 100k (Whakatane 2016)
Report by Paul Klein
Here I am riding along the river bank (due to injuries) when my phone pings “hey Paula do you want to join us for the Oxfam Trailwalker 100k in April? We are a team member down.”
After a few minutes and a quick discussion with my running buddies I think “How hard can it be?” So with about 7 weeks training with three other fabulous ladies I ended up at the start line at 7am Saturday 2nd of April.
Rain and thunderstorms were predicted but our spirits were high and we were pleased to be chasing the 6am starters. Our goal was to be in the top three women’s team over the line finishing with all four of us so we could be eligible for a prize.
Each leg had its own challenges, from hills, beach, water, never ending hills, blinding rain every hour, more water, mud, thunder and lightning, a jet boat ride, lack of signs to show the way at night, a mud slide for about 300 meters, more uphill (the driveway to nowhere), murderous train tracks with gigantic sharp stones, and then just for fun at about 93k, let’s make you climb some farm gates. This course was way harder than Tarawera Ultra. More hills, more mud, more challenges!
Our time goal disappeared rather quickly and our spirits sunk but we were determined to finish. Our support crew were simply amazing. They were organised and tried to cheer us up. Finally our last checkpoint, a home stretch of an easy 12k. Chowing down on some peppermints helped to settle my tummy but I didn’t want any more food. So off we went chanting away knowing it was just down the road. We met a freshly mowed stop bank with clumps of grass with no clear path to place tired sore feet. It was the longest 12k of our life! My feet had been sore since about 20k along the beach and I knew we had about 3k along a foot path to come. Just when we felt it couldn’t get any worse, we had to traverse three gates.
Finally we arrived at the main bridge and a 97k marker, and some lovely supporters who declared we did not have far to go. We hobbled as fast as we could and regrouped to walk over the finish line chanting loudly, 20 hours 58 minutes later! A very hard event but we placed 14th overall and first lady team with all four finishing.
What an adventure but please can someone remind me that some adventures are best left to other crazy people – and running is far easier than walking!