In Jan 2015, I successfully completed the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge along with Team MOTR. As a team, we walked 100kms within 35 hours. This series (Part 1 | Part 2) is a coverage of our walkathon with pictures, learning & tips.
A concoction of almonds, raisins, cashew, jaggery & walnuts had worked wonders for our calorific needs during practice walks. The Chawla household’s hand prepared concoction remained as effective. We went through our stock in no time.
This was our checkpoint before the night walking began. The drones were still out creating buzz. This next stretch was supposedly the most scenic. But due to relaxed stops at checkpoints, we were now doing the most scenic part after sunset.
A famished lot, we were hoping for a repeat of pongal for dinner. And we were not disappointed. Freshly prepared pongal & vada disappeared in no time. In preparation for the long last stretch of the night (about 16 kms), we took our own sweet time at this checkpoint. Re-taping, massages, stocking up on refreshments & a lot many deep breaths meant that we spent about 90 mins here.
Due to an elephant sighting, we had to take a detour in this stretch. After 16 hours on the trail, these next 3-4 hours of walking felt the most arduous. Few words spoken. No pictures taken. Walking the trail felt like serious business.
Pappu Can’t Dance Saala. But when charged, there is no stopping Pappu. Amidst the tiredness & ebbing spirits, we got to see an amazing show of hope & stamina – hitherto unseen throughout the day. It was as if someone ordered an energy boost off Flipkart!
By the time we reached out next checkpoint (@ 12:30am), we just wanted a flat piece of ground to crash on. Though Satya, the fittest in the team, proposed that we continue walking through the night, he was out-voted. We slept in the open in whatever little space we found. What we had not bargained for was the dip in the mercury & the fog. We woke up within 3 hours due to cold & dankness. Walking was a better option.
If we were to do this again, we will be better prepared with sleeping bags & warm clothing for the night.
The first stretch of the morning was one of the most difficult. We had 5-6 km on a road under construction. The small rocks made for difficult walking. And the dust storms raised by the various support vehicles moving fast on the mud road made for a very unpleasant stretch. We also had the second incident of getting lost – this time, it cost us a couple of extra KMs. As you can see in the pictures above, the tough stretch showed on our faces.
Not for long though. After a hearty breakfast & a well deserved rest, Team MOTR was ready to rock the last two stretches.
Phew ..that was a long climb. The penultimate stretch required us to conquer a couple of hillocks, that made for good photo ops. It was even more interesting to view the support vehicles – especially the smaller hatchbacks – make it through on all fours.
We fell short of our 30 hour BHAG by 15 kms. What kept us from achieving the BHAG was our primary goal of all of us finishing the 100 kms on our feet. This led to longish checkpoint breaks from the very beginning. In hindsight, considering the strong finish we had, I was left wondering if we could have easily gone after the BHAG.
Thankfully for me, the blister issue surfaced only in the penultimate stretch. While I had taken care to tape myself appropriately the first day, I took it lightly on the second. I had let the novices manning the medical tents do their own thing with taping. This led to five of these beauties adorning my feet. A couple of them popped on their own – best thing to happen. Another two had to be popped – next best thing to do. But one of them persisted through the last stretch & made walking very painful.
Team MOTR at the final check-out. All set for the assault on the final stretch. By this time, Roshan’s (untrained) knee was screaming in protest of the assault it was facing. If he was so willing to do this without much training, we (with 3 months of training) just had to do smile through it. It was inspiring to have Roshan persist through the last 40 odd kms.
Ahh ..the sweet feeling of achievement …a successful culmination of a 3 month adventure. Health. Cause. Friends. Challenge. The Oxfam Trailwalker had all the ingredients for a memorable phase in our lives.
The award ceremony was also a humbling reminder of the fact that there were 800 other individuals who had taken up the challenge for a cause greater than themselves.