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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Part 2 the Oxfam Trailwalker report.

So where did I leave you……. That’s right, Amy had just pulled out and the others were about to leave checkpoint 3.

Well the team were determined, the loss of a team mate meant that all three remaining members had to watch each other and provide motivation during the tough times ahead. This motivation would be needed sorely as the team wouldn’t see any their support folk for over 20kms. So with the team members off towards checkpoint 4, and Amy tucked in the back of the party van, the 4 support crew headed back to Hornsby for a couple of hours shut-eye before we met the walkers again at checkpoint 5.

It seemed that as soon as I had shut my eyes my brother was waking me up to head off and see the crew. It was 3am, Saturday morning and we had a 20min drive to Checkpoint 5 at St Ives showground. So with sleepy eyes, a can of rockstar and a thermos of Chicken soup my brother and I jumped into the car and headed off. Driving in Sydney at this time in the morning is a lot easier and we got to the showground in about 15 minutes. Once there we met up with the other half of the support crew and once again set up the picnic area.

We saw the team walking towards us, obviously exhausted but in good spirits. They were tired and happy. They had a look of triumph on their face with 60kms down and 40 to go. This 40 was the easiest part of the walk as far as the trail goes and the walkers could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The two girls sat down with some soup and bread and casually changed their strapping tape, talking as if they had just been for an afternoon stroll. Greg (the ginger) however was cooling down fast and we feared that he was in the early stages of hypothermia. So with the car heater at full blast, a change of clothes and a couple of cups of hot soup we nursed Greg back to the point where his finger and toes were able to be felt, allowing him to get the motivation back to keep on keeping on.

With the team off again my brother and I headed back to base camp. It was now 5:30am and we knew we had to be at the next checkpoint at about 9 in the morning. My brother promptly settled into bed and went back to sleep and while I would have liked to this was not possible due to a combination of worry for my wife and the walkers and the large can of energy drink I consumed to actually make it to the previous checkpoint. So tired, yet wide awake I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and loaded up Starcraft 2 on the laptop to fill in an hour or so.

It was at this point that my wife finally felt human enough to speak to us. The spewing had subsided and with a large dose of panadol and asprin she was able to return to the world of the living. So with an extra support member now on board and a list of food that we had to purchase from McDonalds we once again hit the road. Quickly running into Maccas Hornsby we realised that we may be running a little late and with Sydney traffic doing it’s very best to piss me off we ended up being about 10 minutes late to the next checkpoint. We felt horrible we had failed the team but when we arrived we realised that the situation was actually worse. The other half of the support team hadn’t arrived yet and they were carrying all of the clothes and strapping for the team. Calling them got us nowhere as their phones kept ringing out. Had something happened to them? Had they gotten lost? Or worse had they forgotten?

So the team set off again, angry and smelly. With no fresh clothes and old strapping tape the next 10kms would be tough. Luck struck the team though with all of us spotting the party van down the hill. We all headed down there and found the girls asleep in their van. They had driven straight from the previous checkpoint to here and decided to sleep in their cars. The problem being their phones froze and their alarms didn’t go off. Of course this meant our phones weren’t ringing through and we couldn’t wake them. Unceremoniously they were awoken, and with embarrassed looks the girls got up and saw to the teams clothing and strapping needs.

With a better outlook now that they had fresh outfits, the anger that the walkers had towards the girls evaporated and turned into good natured ribbing. The team were fresh and keen and wanted to power on. So with a wave of support we sent them on their way, 30 odd kms to go and 2 checkpoints to the finish line. Back into the cars we piled and headed back for what would be the support crew’s final trip to Hornsby. The three of us had quick showers to freshen up, grabbed more of our stimulant of choice (coffee for myself and brother and a diluted powerade for Amy) and hit the frog and toad towards the 7th checkpoint.

That is the end of part 2. Like all good trilogies hopefully this part left you wanting more. Tomorrow I will return with the triumphant finale and one final hurdle that threatened to derail the team.

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