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A Team Effort – Oxfam Trail Walk 2024



Completing the 100km trek was a goal for Branch Manager Ashley Coles and I for many years and when we saw in November that the 2024 – 100km Trail walk was to be the final one, it was the trigger we needed to sign on. Teams of 4 were the normal requirement, so we set about finding other interested parties to sign on. We dangled the carrot to one of our Melbourne Area Managers Rohan Sadler who jumped at the chance to sign on. We then zeroed in on our last target Jack Fitcher after he’d consumed a relaxing quantity of beer at our Christmas Party last year and he duly signed on as well and then reconfirmed the day after just to be sure.

Our preparation was far from ideal with 2 x 10km walks attended by 3 members of the group and the rest of the time each member was responsible to get the miles into the legs in readiness for the big event.

There was also some friction within the group when the subject of walking poles was discussed, with 2 members purchasing, 1 member on the fence and the other a fierce opponent. In the end peer pressure meant that the walking poles were left in the car.

We set off on the journey at 10.30 on Friday the 1st of March, a ripper of a day, reasonably warm and sunny. Unfortunately, 1 of our group whose initials are Rohan Sadler had an allergic reaction to anything that resembled a hill which got worse the longer the walk went, but he heroically soldiered on.

By nightfall, we had covered around 45kms and after a lengthy break at checkpoint 3 where members of Rohan’s family provided some much-needed physio repair work, we set off for a long night of walking and climbing. Armed with a blue tooth speaker and a 7-hour playlist we set off for the remainder of the walk. The hill climbing and weariness intensified which can start to play tricks with the mind and it was quiet deflating at times to look skywards on occasions to see night lights of other walkers bobbing around which only confirmed the climb you were in the middle of had a long, long way to go.

The longer the night went the more the aches and mind tricks kicked in. During 1 extremely steep climb, I swear we crossed paths with Sir Edmund Hiliary followed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin before we reached the top. Communication between the group pretty much ceased and what was spoken can’t really be printed in this forum.

Fatigue started to interfere with our ability to negotiate the steep hills. Rohan, at one point grabbed a rope to assist with final stage of a particularly steep climb, but his legs started to give way at the same time, which saw him swing out to the middle of the track which also brought everyone else holding the rope with him.

Jack also looked like a line dancing contestant at as he tried to negotiate the top of the same hill and veered sideways nearly started a chain reaction for those below him. And also myself in attempting to stand up after a brief rest at a checkpoint, impersonated a baby giraffe trying to take it’s 1st steps.

By dawn on Saturday morning, we arrived at the last check point which only left a minor 17 kilometres left to negotiate. It was as that point that our Support Crew of Andy Moutray-Read provided the inspirational purchase that gave us the kick we sorely needed, COFFEE.

Loaded up with caffeine we set off for the last part of the walk which commenced with the 1000 steps which was renamed the 2986 steps by Rohan when he eventually completed them. For what seemed an eternity we completed the final stage at 12.10pm on Saturday. It was a massive relief to finish the trail and a great team effort by everyone involved.

Ashley removed his shoes, and what initially looked like bubble wrap, revealed he’d suffered from massive blistering. Rohan also worked out the hard way that chafing and salt baths don’t mix, apparently an impromptu Bee Gee impersonation was the result.

Special thanks to Andy who met us at every check point and Rohan’s family for their repair work at the 3rd checkpoint.

  • Stuart Stirling, Mobile Relationship Manager, Community Bank Seddon