Yep, that 100km walk has been achieved.
Actually, officially, the walk measured 108.75 kms but they don't tell you that snippet of information until you are at the starting line.
But believe me, the knowledge of that last 8km stuck in our minds when were were at the last 8 kms.
The day started out with glorious weather.
We were pretty excited and possibly a bit clueless as to what was ahead.
As we stood around waiting for the start we noticed two distinct groups of people.
Those who have done it before (walking sticks in hand, prebandaged knees and wearing skins). We kept saying "do they know something we don't?".
And those who have not done it before (walking sticks left in support car for later, gym gear and baggy shorts).
Guess which ones we were?
It was pretty crowded but very exciting.
The excitement wore of to a slight agitation with the crowds taking ages to move ahead. We passed people in front whenever we could (when it was safe).
We clocked in at check point one was 12km from start. Some people clock in, do what they need to do such as check feet, eat etc. and then clock out.
We just clocked in and out then went and ate, refilled water bladders and checked our feet etc.
At this stop I encountered my first problem. The "preventative" blister pads I used reacted with my skin and peeled some of it off. And I had my first blister appear.
We were there for about half an hour and then headed off.
No idea where we were but it was going well and the weather was so kind. All happy faces.
Lovely walks through interesting bushland. This was check point two and around 2:00 pm but we clocked in after we had eaten because the check point was quite a long way up a hill so we figured food was more important than clocking in. So since the last check point we had done 10kms which totalled 22kms in all. By this stage we were pretty hungry. We stopped here for an hour before heading off. The walk towards check point 3 was when the real incline started. We stopped for a short time to have a drink and stretch.
After stopping at check point 2 we made our way to the next one which was another 15kms and took us roughly three hours.
My husband was the support person for this one and because parking was not available he and my son had to carry our change of clothes and food we needed and then catch a shuttle bus to meet us.
Somehow poor K forgot my food but fortunately I had enough with me. He did have my change of clothes though!
We changed into warm clothes and headed off to check point 4.
By this stage things were dark and cold and one of our team members had great trouble warming up and for a brief time was experiencing borderline hypothermia but picked up after a big dose of sports goo. We headed into the dark bush with our headlamps on. The path was slippery and I nearly fell over more than once before getting the feel of walking in the bush during the night.
There was one particular hill we had to climb that we had done twice before and guess what, it was still there waiting for us in the dark. So up we went.
We arrived at check point 4 at 9.30pm. Another team member was pretty sick at this point. A combination of a virus and too much sports drink was enough to knock her around. But after an hours rest and some hot food she was ready to go.
It was at this point we were heading once again into very narrow bush tracks and things were slow because there were a lot of people doing to same thing. We all had to go single file and slowly, the night air lit up by headlamps.
Below is a photo of us at the halfway mark. Still smiling.
We walked on towards check point 5 (no photos) and I was so tired I actually hallucinated through the night. Don't know about you but I am just used to walking 50kms and then being up all night. I thought that the cold breath coming out of my mouth was firstly a bird flying towards me and I ducked away. Then I thought it was someones hand. It was after I thought it was leaves drifting in front of my face I had to really collect my thoughts. The problem may have been heightened by the very strong painkillers I took as well. Maybe I was high as a kite!
I also thought that the big stones on the path were dead animals and that the trees were coming closer.
It was when walking on a straight path with my eyes shut (possibly asleep) that I know I was very tired. Oh, yeah, and continually finding my mouth wanting to hang open.
Check point 5 was more food. At least I think so because I cannot really remember. I was so desperate to go to sleep. I did go to first aid and get more blisters sorted.
We left there at 4.30 am and made our way to check point 6 which was about 13.5 kms away. Arriving there at about 7.00 am and leaving at about 8.00 am. I had to spend a lot of time putting new dressings on my feet. We had 20kms ahead of us. I burst my huge blisters, bandaged and taped things up, took 2 Nurofen plus tablets and off we hobbled.
Oh, those portaloos behind us were disgusting. However, I managed to get changed in one without putting my unshod foot on the ground. I dreaded the door opening or, worse, the thing tipping over. They are stinky and horrible things. Sometimes I would go into one and see food in there. Who would eat in any toilet let alone a portaloo?
Did I say it was long? Oh, my face says it was long. My face also tells you how my feet were. And my ankle that I almost twisted early in the walk was now very painful. As was the left knee. Things were hurting.
Arrived at check point 7 so much later than we thought we would. By this stage we were all so tired and could hardly talk. One team member vomited and had such an upset stomach. The sports drink did not agree with her. I had not had any sports drink but did have a big bottle at this check point because things were aching and there was a big hill coming up. During the week I had dosed up on magnesium and other tissue salts in anticipation. Sports drinks make me want to vomit.
I was starving now and just ate as much as I comfortably could. Pasta, sandwiches and chocolate.
So here we were about to finish.
The last leg of the walk was so very, very hard. It was at this point I used walking sticks because the trek was all up a very steep incline with one deep decline and I needed to keep my knee and ankle going.
So below is a photo of us running towards the finish line. Yes, running. We had enough in us for a brief sprint to get under that finish line gantry. It was a great feeling of achievement.
My older sister (who I have not seen for months) was there to meet me along with my husband. My son was not well and stayed home. But that was okay because he made me a video to wish me all the best.
We compared the walk to the film Inception. Each check point led us to another nightmarish part of the walk. It was very hard at times and we kept saying we would never do it again. I would make jokes like "take a good look at where we are because we are not coming back".
On the way home in the car I started to cry. Just tears of relief, tears of tiredness and tears just because they needed to come out. When I got home my son asked how I was and I burst into tears again. He hugged me and said "you did so well mum, I am so proud of you". I finally had a hot shower and went to bed. I slept like the dead.
Now I am up and about. Feeling a bit stiff and still very tired but pretty good considering.
What did I learn? You can have too much popcorn, pretzels and even chocolate. That I never want to see another nut bar. That everything is funny when it is the middle of the night and you have walked over 60kms and not slept. That the "F" word has a time and place often at that same time of the morning.
I also learnt that it is good to challenge oneself. That working as a team is so much better than working alone. And to do good for people you don't even know is so satisfying. I learnt that people are generous, helpful, kind and supportive.
During the later part of the walk when we were tired and there was pain we said we would never do it again.
This morning I said to my husband I would never do it again and he said "yeah right". He must know me.
So, would I do it again?