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A Walk In The Park
Posted by Sandra Oh - May 10, 2010

Just 1 week ago, I found it harder than usual to get off the couch due to my extremely sore leg muscles...I'd just walked 50km.

On Saturday 1 May at 7am, Cassie, Hamo, Bek and I lined up at the starting line of 'Go The Extra Mile' - a 50km endurance walk to raise money for Dalit (considered the 'untouchables', lower than animals) children in India (www.gotheextramile.com.au/vic).

We'd spent the last 2 months training for the event...going for shorter walks during the week, and blocking out a day on the weekend to do a longer walk.

Through our training, we'd tried to cover most of the trail that we'd be walking on event day. I'm glad we did as some of the terrain, especially in The Dandenongs, was really steep. It was good to have an idea of what we'd be facing on the day.

We anticipated reaching pit stop #1 at 10am, but managed to get the 15km leg done in 2.5 hours. We walked faster than we had in training and even jogged some parts. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it was the faster pace or the cold morning in shorts, but my legs started to get sore MUCH earlier than I thought they would.

We had Julie meet us at pit stop #1, and after walking another 1.5 hours (9kms), we made it to pit stop #2 and were met by Mel with a delicious lunch! The chicken sandwiches and yummy slice were much appreciated!

The first half of the course seemed to fly by. Unfortunately, the second half wasn't so kind. As we got into The Dandenongs, my legs got sorer and the flat paths of the first 24kms were replaced by lots of hills.

At pit stop #3, the base of the 1000 steps, we were met by Jo and by then, we were all pretty stuffed as the 3rd leg, which took us 4 hours to complete, was pretty savage! With only 12kms to go til the finish, I headed into the last part of the course with the sun setting, knowing it was going to be tough, but eager to make it.

Our team name, Step-By-Step was chanted several times as I continued shuffling along the path, and at times, the old New Kids On The Block song was what kept me going (as well as thoughts of why I was doing the walk in the first place).

After 13 hours of walking, the finish line was crossed! I MADE IT 50kms!!!!

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me/us for the walk!! Because of your support, my team has raised $1560...nearly double our team target!

I know the money is going straight to the education and healthcare of the Dalit children. If you read this before June 30 2010 and are keen to make a tax deductible donation, go to http://www.gotheextramile.com.au/vic/sponsorwalkermsg.asp.

The Walk That Was!
Posted by Terry Snell - May 3, 2009

Yesterday was the day.
We Our team of 3 were all at Jells Park by 6:30am, together with a little over a hundred other walkers and a considerable number of support staff and well wishers.

As we were running 5 minutes late the organisers started us of with minimal fanfare.

The stops were as follows, with distances for each:
1. Bayswater Park (15km)
2. Doongalla Reserve (9km)
3. Ferntree Gully Picnic ground (14km)
4. Ferny Creek Reserve (12km)

Our team consisted of Gerald, team leader and the mad with all the experience. Age 43 (the day before) Joe, a young chap from my church and a bit of a runner who was keen to try a long walk. Age 27. Myself, age 51.

It only took about half an hour for the pack of walkers to sort themselves out. Towards the first pitstop we could not see any of our walkers in front or behind, but they were gathered at the oval in significant numbers. By the time we reached Bayswater I was already feeling stiff and a little concerned, as we had not yet done our first climb. I thought the pace had been a little brisk

We stopped long enough for me to have a toilet stop (the second of many), strip off a layer (glorious day!) and unwrap a sandwich, which I ate on the trot. Left the oval about 10:15am from memory. Felt a lot better after a rest from that pace, and some food. About 50 minutes later we hit the base of the Dandenongs. This is where all of my training paid off. The light slopes presented little problem to me. We got to Doongalla maybe noon, where I took on some gatorade, but no food, as we were about to take on the second most difficult climb for the event.

There were a few walkers leaving and coming for the 10 minutes we were there, but the field was getting more and more spread. The climb from Doongalla is very steep over a section lasting for about 15 minutes, but we all made it okay. There we stopped for lunch, which for me was a sandwich, and the last solid food I ate from then to now. Then we proceeded to pitstop 3. This was the first difficult section, up hill and down dale. One section of the track is a very steep descent, so steep that it really is not safe. We came across a couple of walkers who had just passed us but were struggling to retain their footing through this section (we were all right, we all had walking sticks). We did what we could to help. We eventually made it to the picnic ground but by now we were all sore and tired (even Gerald to some degree) and we knew what was coming next...the 1000 steps.

Se we stopped, took on some more gatorade and cooled our heels...but only for 10 minutes. Gerald did not want us to get cold. We managed to get up the steps without stopping, but after walking 38km, they are hard going, and I was a bit of a zombie for the rest of the walk. What remained was pretty tame, but by now intelligent conversation had dried up, and it was just a grind. For most of the walk Gerald went at his own pace, which was faster than for Joe and I, and after a kilometre or so he would wait for us to catch up. Gerald lost his edge for some of the last section and we walked together. As it turned out he was fighting cramps (he had caught a virus the week before and lost 5kg). In his style, Gerald pushed through, and soon he was leaving us behind again, especially at the end of the trail. He had organised for his wife to pick him up at 6pm for a 50th birthday party he had on in Brighton, and he was keen to crack the whip on us to get us over the line in time. Joe and I did the best we could.

We crossed the finish line at Ferny Creek Reserve at 6 minutes to 6, with a hero's welcome. Gerald's wife was waiting with toe dogs in tow, and Joe left with Gerald to get a ride back to his car at Jells Park, so we said quick goodbyes, congratulations and thank yous. Then I stayed on to enjoy the celebration and queue about half an hour for a massage. I think we were the last walkers who did not need torchlight to complete the course. It was very late dusk by 6pm in the hills, and quite cool. Of over a hundred walkers I was not sure where we finished, but I think we were in the first half, which means that there would be many coming after us who would need torchlight to penetrate the darkness among the tall trees of Ferny Creek.

While I was queued for my massage I heard as each one received a wonderful welcome as they crossed the line just outside. The event was to remain open until midnight, so that welcoming team would be pretty tired by the time they welcomed the last walker! (not to mention the walkers). A the massage was painful and wonderful. There was only one Osteopath there, and he had a continuous line of customers. In the spirit of the event he refused to take a break and keep anybody waiting, but even so each person only got about a five minute massage. Did the job for me. I managed to drive home okay .... a post-walk inspection revealed blisters on my feet which were so big they were visible under my socks, but not particularly painful. It is now the next morning and I have come up pretty good. I am slow to get moving, but once I have walked a minute the stiffness is subdued enough so that I can do what I need to do.

Congratulations to the organisers of 'Go The Extra Mile'. The event was brilliantly run, especially for an inaugural, and you managed to secure a great bunch of volunteers for every aspect of the walk. The atmosphere that you created at the end of the walk made it all worthwhile for me and, I am sure, many others.

Well done!

Kind regards

Two of our much loved volunteers walked the 50km trail with little to no training - here's one of them sharing the experience

Jan 26, 2009
I really enjoy a good long walk & this would have to be one of the best - challenging, but also really invigorating!

The thing I loved about this walk was the diversity. It starts off at Jells Park and then heads through wetlands thriving with bird life. It then weaves a path through rolling green pastures with ponies grazing. And all this is happening in what I thought were the suburbs!

The track then gently winds up the first section of the hill through bush, real Aussie scrub - it eventually comes out at a beautiful Parks Victoria garden park called Doongala Station. This is an absolutely gorgeous park filled with trees that display every shade of green - its like a hidden oasis in the middle of the bush.

Moving on from Doongalla is the first big climb up, followed by a descent and then a traverse around the mountain side. You are constantly surrounded by the soaring beauty of gums, sometimes the massive trunks are alive with colour where all the old bark has torn away in great shards leaving the fresh smooth skin beneath.

One of my favourite parts of this section was coming upon a running creek that had to be crossed by either rock hopping over a few small rocks or balancing and walking along an old fallen log - great fun!

Some sections of the following climbs are quite thick with bush - but just when you least expect it, you get an amazing glimpse of sky and vistas that stretch on and on. They tend to give breath rather than take it away!

The thousand steps are a bit of a killer coming in at the 38km mark, but looking about at the sun hitting the tops of the ferns, the bursts of color, the hugeness of the trees all helps to pull you up to the top.

Janesdell and the whole section of Ferny creek are really pretty. But Sherbrooke Forest, thick, dark and deliciously cool is made even more wonderful by the thought that this is the home stretch!

Walking into Ferny Creek reserve is liberating - such a marvellous feeling to be finished!