Training for Trailwalker

#story #events #funny

Author: Paul Dean

I remember seeing a Facebook advert “100kms - Teams of 4 - 48hrs”. I thought that sounded like a challenge I would enjoy. It was an advert for the annual Oxfam Trailwalker. A team endurance challenge held each year in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and our very own Perth.


I mulled over the idea for a couple of days before convincing myself that it was a fine idea. ‘I will hike the Oxfam Trailwalker!' I announced to my sceptical family the following morning.


I did face a few early hurdles mind you – I hadn’t done any serious hiking for ten years (when I was last in the military), I had no idea where to train, my hiking equipment looked like I stole it from the Geological Society Museum and I had to find three other team mates (plus support crew), raise a ton of money and all this in under four months. I told myself that anything was possible.


So where does CrossFit fit into all this? Well it turns out that finding three other crazy people is the easy part, support crew - no problem, and let’s face it, buying some hiking boots isn’t rocket science. No, CrossFit was going to get me match fit!


Hiking over two marathons non-stop across unforgiving terrain isn’t easy, I want to make this point really clear. ‘Oh it’s just walking’, I hear some say, but consider this- it takes most teams between 28- 32 hours to complete, that’s a bloody long ‘walk’, only 40% of teams that do manage to finish, finish as a team of four. There’s river crossings and inclines so steep you need to be on your hands and knees to scale them... several people have even died during this event around the world!


I had been doing CrossFit for a while already and was loving everything about it. Turns out, CrossFit, with its functional movements and endless squats, is ideal training for hikers like me. As a CrossFitter my glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads were getting stronger and stronger. The focus on mobility was lowering my risk of injury and my core (the next major muscle group hikers rely on) was in top shape thanks to endless toes-to-bar and planking. Every WOD was preparing me.


Now don’t get me wrong, CrossFit alone won’t get you over the Trailwalker finish line. We also clocked up over 400km of actual hiking in preparation, and of course, I made a concerted effort to eat well (my CrossFit coach gave me some really good tips).

So the day finally arrived, we were off across the stunning Perth Hills. Myself, Lisa, Dale and Dean. 20km in and life was sweet. 40km in and the doubts starting to set in, I wondered if I’d be the one that lets the team down. 60km in and the pain in my lower back and knees started to become constant and don’t get me started on the blisters and chafing. 90km in and we had literally hiked two marathons back to back with only two hours sleep under the stars. I was tired and feeling every ache and pain but determined to finish. Well finish we did, in a time of 31hrs and better still, the four of us were together, shoulder to shoulder. The last 3km felt like 300 but our proud families were there at the finish line clapping us over it.


I genuinely believe that CrossFit was the best prep I could have done. There really is nothing else out there that gives you that overall strength, agility, mobility and cardio fitness like CrossFit does.


In 2018, Crossfit Norsemen will be entering several teams into the Oxfam Trailwalker event. We’ll help you find team mates, prepare physically and we’ll run some dedicated workshops on equipment and hiking trails. I strongly encourage anyone to give it a go. See you at the start line.


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