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Mission: Oxfam Trailwalker

February 01, 2017

Mission: Oxfam Trailwalker

As a physiotherapist, Nicola is often part of the support crew (by choice or not!) for her adventurous friends. But this time around she's been conned into the overnight shift at the NSW 2015 Oxfam Trailwalker to make sure her friends, AKA the 'Glory Chasers', stay warm, comfortable, fed and as painless as possible during their 26+ hour trailwalk through some of Australia's coldest winter temperatures. Here she gives us an update of what the overnight shift is really like. The good news is, there was no chafing in sight as the team, and Nicola, stayed comfy and warm in their ioMerino layers!

By Nicola Michell, 2015 Oxfam Trailwalker Support Crew



The Oxfam Trailwalker: “Tackle 100km of Australian bush within 48 hours as a team of four, and make a difference by raising funds to help overcome poverty and injustice around the world”. Sounds glorious, right? Team bonding, raising money for charity… Well last year it rained non stop for the whole walk. It bucketed. Creek crossings became river crossings, fire trails became creek crossings, even the flat sections were ankle deep mud.

This year, however, has been dry.. ish. And again, I have been roped in as support crew for some friends aptly named “Glory Chafers”. As a physiotherapist by day I have scraped many athletes off fields and courts, strapped them back up and sent them back on. Tonight will be no different. My shift starts at 8pm, with my team starting their walk 13 hours earlier at 7am. Only this time the team name is a little more ominous than what I’m used to…

7pm: My car is stocked! We learnt last year that the “nutrition plan” was a massive fail and all they wanted at 2am was a cheeseburger and a coke from McDonald’s. As such, my car is only stocked with Nutella sandwiches, salt and vinegar chips and Coca Cola.

8pm: The rain appears to be moving off shore (phew!). Temperature is steadily dropping – I’ve now got a pink Altitude Crew on with an old men’s graphic tee over the top. The thumb-loops are super handy for these types of events as I can’t strap blistered feet in gloves, but this keeps my hands a little warmer!

Current temperature: 13 degrees Celsius. Coffee count: 2



9.47pm: Check Point 4: 57.7kms.

The team has made it in relatively unscathed and are all sporting their navy Altitude crew’s, too! No chafing or stink issues here!

After some white bread with Nutella, a quick re-strap of some feet, the old elbow-in-the-bum physio move they’re off again!

Current temp: 9.5degrees Celsius

1.07am: Checkpoint 5. That’s a neat 70km completed. And still no rain!

There was a brief moment at the last checkpoint that I thought they wouldn’t get up again, but at this checkpoint that moment lasted the whole time. With one battling ITB issues (which, for those of you who don’t know, is basically knee pain caused by weakness in the glutes, and can be very common in endurance events when glute strength and stability is tested!), another with a more serious knee injury, number three falling asleep in a plastic chair and lucky number four who tried to sit down, their legs said “no” and they just fell over. And didn’t get up.

The painkillers and Redbulls were passed around. And the prescription pain killers…

Getting them off the ground and out of this checkpoint was tough.



2.38am: Checkpoint 6, 81.6kms. Way to be the bloody hardest place to find. I got lost for 20minutes. But I did see a kangaroo, so there’s that.

But right now it is getting seriously cold. Current temp: 8 degrees and dropping fast.

I now have on two Altitude long sleeves, a beanie and jacket. And as I type this I have created a car-blanket-cocoon while I wait for them.



4.57am: Team in and out of Checkpoint 6 in about 20mins. This time the girls were high as a kite on the painkillers from the previous check point, and the boys either changed their shoes or had a powernap on the floor while I re-tensioned the knee tape or wacked in a few dry needles.

I left the team at this checkpoint and headed home after handing over to the “day shift”. Only one more checkpoint after this and then finished. I was in bed by 6.15am. The team dragged themselves over the finish line in 26:33, in 77thposition (out of 544) with their relationships still intact, and no chafing in sight!


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