OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

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OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby markrellast1 » Wed 11 Feb, 2015 5:35 pm

Hello, My sisters and I are considering participating in the Oxfam 100km trail walk which follows the Great Northern Walk in August 2015. Has anybody done this before and if so, do you have any advice regarding preparation, eg how much walking training we would need to do to complete the trail comfortably. How tough is the terrain? We are all quite aerobically fit, as runners, but don't do any bush-walking as such, over long distances. It is over three days so approximately 33 kms per day, although walking through the night is also done. Thanks for any tips/advice.
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby johnw » Fri 13 Feb, 2015 9:59 am

markrellast1 wrote:Hello, My sisters and I are considering participating in the Oxfam 100km trail walk which follows the Great Northern Walk in August 2015. Has anybody done this before and if so, do you have any advice regarding preparation, eg how much walking training we would need to do to complete the trail comfortably. How tough is the terrain? We are all quite aerobically fit, as runners, but don't do any bush-walking as such, over long distances. It is over three days so approximately 33 kms per day, although walking through the night is also done. Thanks for any tips/advice.

Hi markreallst1, I completed the event in 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. In fact I'd consider doing it again but would need to organise a team. I think some other forum members have done it also. I already did a fair amount of regular bushwalking and distance running, as well as some cycling, before I started training. Our team had geographic difficulty in doing anything together before the event so most of my training was solo. I basically increased my usual range of activity to include a reasonably long day bushwalk weekly. I was already running 5-10 km up to five times a week and probably cycling around 50km/week as my usual regime, including bushwalking on the weekends. I also do a about 9 km day incidental walking as part of the daily commute/work routine. Really I just tried to build up the bushwalking distance. I don't think I went much longer than about 30 to 35 km in a single training session, and usually less than 20km. I did make sure to include some night walking, by deliberately becoming "benighted" as least 5km or more before the planned finish on some trips. Obviously you need to take the right gear, such as a good head torch, and try to train with what you plan to use in the event.

I finished the 100km in just over 31 hours, the last 40 km solo as I lost all my teammates around 2 am at 60 km, through various degrees of injury (mainly blisters) and extreme fatigue. Unfortunately they weren't able to provide the same level of commitment to training that I was, and that really showed once night fell. Definitely try and do some training on the actual course if you can. I did some of that and supplemented it with similar terrain closer to home. I had some advantage in having previously walked much of the northern part of the route on the GNW below Brooklyn as various day bushwalks. Familiarity removes a lot of anxiety as you already know what to expect. I haven't looked at this year's course but assume still going north to south? If that's the case most of the hardest (steepest) parts will be completed in daylight on Day 1 (by most teams).

Apart from general fatigue, peaking in the hours before dawn (don't worry, you'll be hallucinating by then and won't notice :wink:), my main problem was blisters. Although that really didn't show up until the last couple of stages and I couldn't have cared by then, I was close enough to just push through the discomfort as the finish was in within grasp. I was making sure to treat any issues at each of the stage breaks, airing footwear and feet, using anti-friction cream, using dressings if needed, and that substantially reduced the problem for me but didn't eliminate it. Very sore and tired at the end but also satisfied in having finished despite the setbacks. I found that the pre-dawn fatigue resolved once the sun came up, warming me up, as well as a hot breakfast at the next checkpoint, which re-energised me. I could have finished in under 30 hours reasonably comfortably, had I better studied the rules for competing as a surviving solo team member. That eventuality wasn't in my planning at all.

If you are planning to take the full 48 hours allotted to finish then it could be relatively relaxed - not sure about the 3 x 33 km days unless the rules have changed. Usually starts Friday morning and cut off is Sunday morning.

Try not to pack too much. It can get cold overnight so you need thermals etc. but if you are moving most of the time it lessens the impact. Mostly need to consider common sense things that you would do in your running anyway - like staying hydrated. Carry snacks to eat along the way, a good head torch and spare batteries, rain wear, emergency/first aid items. Try to keep the overall weight down without compromising safety. I used a hiking pole because I have a dodgy knee - optional but helps on the steeper terrain.

I firmly believe that if you can do everything as a team it will dramatically increase your chances of getting everyone over the line. That's some food for thought, happy to answer any other questions.
John W

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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby markrellast1 » Fri 13 Feb, 2015 3:24 pm

Thanks so much John for your advice and all the information. that has really helped me gain a prospective of how to prepare and what to expect...maybe :wink:
I think I got it wrong about the 3 x 33km days as I thought it was over 3 full days hence the average kms, but obviously I didn't read the info properly. I'm glad you mentioned about your fitness and what you were doing prior as that has helped me consider what we need to do. I have come from a running/cycling background and have trained for long events, but not for quite a few years, and wasn't sure due to the terrain and it being a "walk", I didn't want to be unprepared thinking it would be easy. So I'd better get started! Thanks again, appreciate the time you took to answer my questions. :D
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby Turfa » Fri 13 Feb, 2015 3:44 pm

I've done Trailwalker a few times. It is a great event & nothing beats the feeling the first time you walk 100km !
Aerobic fitness helps on the hills, but the biggest challenges are likely to be your feet (blisters) and the mental difficulty of walking for 20-30 hours.

There is no substitute for time on your feet, you just need to get out there on the trail & do the K's. This will tell you where you are prone to getting blisters & chafing & allow you to figure out how to avoid them.
My team would do a long training walk each weekend, ideally on the trail, bumping up the distance 5 k's per week from 20km to a max of 50km. This seemed to work OK. It is also a good idea to get in some night training, as walking in the dark is very different to the day.

The time limit is 48 hours, so you don't really have 3 days. Some teams take a break to sleep, some don't. I have always liked the challenge of doing the 100km non-stop. The terrain is pretty easy. No huge hills and while some parts of the track can be a little rough, it is mostly easy going.

Good luck !
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby robertoman » Fri 13 Feb, 2015 6:46 pm

If you do a bit of running, then consider incorporating some running into your training and the event itself. There will be groups who will be running OXFAM. The time on your feet is the killer in longer events, so if you can trot along some bits it can make a difference timewise. Definitely consider a head torch or torch. It would be a shame to feel good to go, but unable to walk through the dark - but night walking and running does take a bit of practice (I have done a bit and its a funny thing to walk through the bush at night). There are lots of steep bits so get used to these. Brooklyn to Berowra is a good challenge to start with ! I have seen lots of tired folk along this stretch desperate to finish
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby odnuas » Fri 13 Feb, 2015 7:33 pm

Hey markrellast1,

I've done Oxfam 5 times (twice in Sydney). Everything the others have said is good advice. Blisters, chafe and general soreness are your enemy. Wouldn't recommend sleeping - I've just walked through each one without sleep. I've done all four courses and reckon Sydney is pretty tough. Lots of stepping up and down and plenty of rough track, particularly in the first 40km or so. That said, if you have good general fitness and you work up to a 40km walk as practice you should be fine.

Good luck! I'm probably doing this one again so will be out on the track too...
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby markrellast1 » Fri 27 Feb, 2015 12:12 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments and advice regarding the Oxfam trek. They have enforced the realisation that we need to walk at night in training, work on non-blistering :? and expect sleep deprivation. I know it's a personal thing, but any advice as whether to wear Hiking boots or "trail runners"? Also, (sorry may as well gain as much advice as possible :P ) how cold is it during the night?(weather dependent I know) re: layering/beanies etc or mostly used when stopped to keep warm?
All the best to those who may be participating again this year. Narelle
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby Turfa » Fri 27 Feb, 2015 4:03 pm

Boots vs trail runners ?...... wear whatever is most comfortable !!!! seriously.... do it in volleys if they don't give you blisters :-) You will figure this out for yourself if you do enough training. Merrell Moabs are my choice ( world's best shoe !!!) I am also a big fan of double socking, thin liner socks under med. weight wool hiking socks. But again, try it out & see how it works for you.

It can get very cold at night, especially if you are low on energy or in pain and are moving slowly. I always carry a light fleece & set of lightweight thermals just in case. I have never had to wear more than shorts & t-shirt when walking, but I do run on the hot side of the scale. It is good for your support crew to have some blankets for you to use at checkpoints if you are taking a break.

Oh...and cheeseburgers !
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby odnuas » Sun 01 Mar, 2015 5:29 pm

Re: footwear. I wear a pretty average pair of Asic runners (no mesh so puddles etc don't wet the feet). I generally have a spare pair of runners with support crew. I've noticed most people on the track seem to wear regular runners or trail runners. For socks I wear toe socks on the inside and then woolen hiking socks on the outside. Bring heaps of spares! I find a thermal top is all I need at night but then everyone is different. Layering is a good way to take care of this. Don't forget the wet weather gear as well! Last year was really wet - so wet they considered cancelling.
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby johnw » Sun 01 Mar, 2015 9:11 pm

Good advice from Turfa and odnuas. Similar for me. I wore lightweight breathable trail runners - New Balance all-terrain something or others. Single layer synthetic ankle socks plus carried a spare pair (although I often double sock when bushwalking). Generally worked OK for me. From memory I had spare shoes with support crew. Whatever you decide it needs to be comfortable for 100km. I took lightweight thermals (long) plus beanie and wore them on the night stages. It was quite cold as the wind got up, especially between about 2am and 7am. Took them off otherwise and just wore lightweight quick drying shorts and t-shirt. Also used a Montaine ultralight wind smock (limited shower resistance - took light wet weather gear as well). Weather is unpredictable but examine the detailed forecasts in the week beforehand and especially the night before. Definitely experiment to see what works best for you. Training sessions are perfect for that. Energy foods of choice when it really mattered - burgers, pizza and bacon & egg rolls - from the three basic food groups :wink:.
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby markrellast1 » Wed 04 Mar, 2015 3:52 pm

Thanks guys, you are all awesome for passing on your wisdom. I appreciate it. The double-socking and taking spares is definetely the "go" as well as
training in what is comfortable and what to wear on the "day". I know all this of course, but just wanted some confirmation :D Although I'm glad you mention the food thing as I probably would have just packed some bananas and honey sandwiches, all good, but I think the hot food etc will spur me on more to each check-point, ha ha :lol: Gosh I'd better get out there and start walking!! Kidding, I've started.
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Re: OXFAM WALK SYDNEY - FOLLOWS G8 NORTH

Postby westernarthursaddict » Mon 25 May, 2015 11:00 pm

Can I make suggestion regarding food. Complex carbohydrates, and powdered gatorade when you're feeling deflated. Sugar is good but its has a very short term energy output and it will not sustain you. Oats, sweet potato, capsicum, pumpkin, broccoli, and brown rice will be very good long lasting energy friends. Also whole meal bread, and baked beans will keep you going.
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