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School's Walk

How to Finish Well

Anyone can enter and compete in an endurance event but to maximise the enjoyment of that experience requires some forward planning and some sensible preparation.

Generally speaking, first timers will have no real frame of reference by which they can judge their body's responses and performance when placed under this new type of physical stress, or indeed how their emotions will stand up to the mental challenge of pushing it for long stretches of time on the trail.

The lure of the challenge

This fact of the "unknown" about ourselves is precisely the thing that draws many of us into a challenge of this nature - just to see if we can do it! Well the good news is that most folks with a bit of preparation, will have no issues completing the full 50kms and will even live on to tell a happy tale about their experiences out on the trail.

What's the expectation?

It's important to set a couple of ground rules about how you will complete the event. This will force everyone in your team onto the same 'page' as you work together, supporting each other.

Consider the following points in question and work an answer to each one as a team:

1. What is your target time?

How you answer this will effect things like your walking/running pace, your time spent at rest stops, the type of food and fluid consumed and your exercise regime leading up to the event. Setting a target time before the event will avoid any confusion amongst team members once the event is underway.

2.  Are you walking or running?

Some teams resolve to run the full distance in the pursuit of a great time - others will be happy to walk the distance. Other teams will run some sections and walk others. It's important that the you agree on this part of your strategy.

3. What's your plan if someone slows down?

It's a fact of life that physical stresses will result in pains and aches and in some instances injuries. What will you do if a team member starts to slow due to injury? Do you agree to drop the person from your team and race on, or do you agree to slow down as a team in order to carry the person along?

Speeds

Walking Pace

Most folks will average a walking speed of 5-6kms per hour on flat ground - this is neither a stroll or a power walk - it is a steady walking pace. This means that the flat section of the 50km trail (which is approx 24km) could be completed in 4-5hours without stopping.

The mountain trails will slow this pace considerably - expect to travel through the mountains at around 3-4kms per hour (depending on inclines and trail condition on the day).

  Click here for a sample walking plan of attack.


Running Pace

Most runners will run an event at an agreed pace - normally this will be 6min pace (or 1km per 6mins). So the same length of trail will take a runner about 2.5hours.

Runners will elect to walk any mountain inclines choosing to reserve their energy for downhill and flat sections of trail.

  Click here for a sample running plan of attack.


Shoes, Socks & Blisters


Shoes

Bush walkers the world over seem to disagree with the best footwear to use for long walks. Some prefer runners while others prefer walking boots. Generally speaking, boots will be tougher and provide better protection against the elements (rough, muddy and wet trails) but will not provide as much comfort as a well constructed pair of running shoes. You will need to work out what works best for you as a walker. Consider the length of time that you will be walking - perhaps the cushioning effect of a gel sole found in most runners will assist you the most - especially if you are prone to sore feet.

One rule of thumb is: Do not buy a new pair of shoes the week before the event! Make sure your shoes are well broken in - your feet do not need any suprises on the day.

Shoe selection for runners is not a problem - runners use good runners!


Socks

Most endurance walkers will double sock for the event - this simply means wearing two pairs of socks - to absorb sweat and provide additional cushioning against blisters. Consider changing your socks at each Pit Stop - or when you notice them getting moist from sweat. This will help reduce the chance of blisters.


Blisters

You can read alot about blisters on the web - but the long and short is that blisters are caused by a shearing of the skin layer. You should ensure the following:
  • make sure you have good shoes that your feet are used to
  • test your shoes on a few long walks to see how they perform - this will help you determine where any problem areas exist on your feet
  • apply fixamol to problem areas on your feet and toes - this acts as a second skin and will significantly help reduce blistering
  • ensure your shoes are not too tight for your feet (especially if you double sock)
  • remove any hard skin or calluses from your feet (consider seeing a podiatrist)
  • cut your toe nails before the event - this will help stop bruising

Click here for more information on blisters.