If you haven’t been following along, 3 strong, courageous, funny and fascinating women joined me, Along with over 10,000 other Coastrekkers, mostly women, to walk a really, really long way to support the three million people in Australia living with anxiety and depression, and those affected by suicide.
Our team chose to walk 45ks from Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Point Nepean, and the week before the final day we were questioning our life choices. The furthest any of us had gone previous was 30ks, and it had hurt…. a lot. Add to that team injuries, difficulty in getting together to train, and generalised anxiety, and we were wondering whether we could actually achieve what we set out to do.
2 days before we discovered that our support crew had caught the dreaded flu, so our back up plan was flawed. That meant a really early start, to park at the finish, and get a bus to the start. Another stumble even before we hit the bus, with one of our crew finding a leaking Bladder (the water carrier variety, not the human kind) and then losing sunglasses. Undetered, we sought out the coffee van at the start line and trotted over the start line at 7am.
We were all feeling pretty good at the start, and we were really enjoying the single file behind the other teams, which was essential due to the small trail and hanging branches. It really set a nice pace. The first section of sand really separated everyone out, and storms a couple of days before had cause a vey steep dune to slide down. Was pretty fun though! Another coffee at the first stop and a garb for snacks, and we were all feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. The sun was out, but not too hot, there was a great camaraderie vibe with the other teams, and we were much more optimistic.
Few hours later and we were still in good spirits, even playing the ABC game to keep things fun (and now, even two weeks later, I can remember exactly what we all were shopping for). Suddenly, disaster struck. Mandi caught her poles on a low tree branch, jarring her back. We were all devastated. Our replacement support crew was called and picked her up at the next road, with the three of us left to fly the flag for our fallen team mate.
I found the sand parts the most challenging. Even with walking poles my legs fatigued quickly and the sand churned up by previous teams really took it’s toll. The incline also caused my foot to roll in, so by the second stop I was getting pain in my ankle to my knee. I took advantage of the Podiatry/strapping services that were available and we joked that I was keeping the tape companies profitable. My foot was pretty much entirely covered in tape for the last leg of the trek.
I was pretty unprepared for the final leg, and I struggled, mostly mentally. It got dark pretty quick, and the torch I brought was inadequate. It also turned pretty cold pretty quick, and I was too exhausted to stop and get my jacket out. Sounds crazy I know but taking a pack off and readjusting was just a lot of energy I just didn’t have, I was purely focussed on just finishing. The final 2ks were the hardest. They seem to take forever. I was cranky, tired, depleted, cold, sore and my feet were really painful, with a small blister bursting being the final straw. I noticed a photographer at the finish line so forced a smile, but then the tears of relief, exhaustion and elation flowed.
BUT WE DID IT!
Things I was grateful for:
The Coastrek FB group – lots of hints, tips, support and encouragement, really helped clear up any questions and relieved any fears.
This Video Clip of how to tape up your feet to prevent blisters. Although I still found two when I finished the challenge, I know for sure could have been soooo much worse had a not followed these clear instructions.
Walking Poles were essential for the sand parts, as was walking in the footsteps of others when I wasn’t able to walk close to the water.
Tara’s wonderful family for stepping in last minute to be the most amazing support for our injured and tired bodies.
The Podiatrist team at the pit-stop who strapped me up enough to be able to make it through the final few ks.
Would I do it again? At this stage it’s a big fat No. However they do say it’s like childbirth, in that you forget the pain… so who knows?