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2019-04-30 05:30:00
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PAST WALKERS | May 20, 2019

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From trails and travails to Triumph

From trails and travails to Triumph

by: trailwalker

Victory is humanity’s greatest desire. The satisfaction we get is priceless. However, nothing comes for free. Behind every successful individual is years of hard work, persistence, dedication and family support.

Oxfam Trailwalker India is a team challenge organised to raise funds to fight poverty and injustice. A test of physical endurance, this challenge requires mental strength and team spirit, where teams of four cover 50km in 24 hours or 100km in 48 hours. My husband and I, along with two ladies, registered in the 100km category. Having pledged to collect Rs 80,000 for Oxfam’s funding activities (Rs 20,000 per member) from our friends and families, we achieved our target before time. Teams were required to start and finish the challenge together. We experienced a breathtakingly picturesque 100 km trail in Karjat, Maharashtra. For some, it was a race to finish in the shortest time. For our team, enjoying the experience and strengthening team bonding was more important.

A 100-km walk in 46 hours

No sooner we signed up as ‘Team Crusaders’ for the 2018 Trailwalker, I feared failure and questioned the rationale for putting myself through this ordeal. But, with encouragement from our coach and support from family and friends, I overcame those doubts.

Monisha on Trail

On 23rd November, we embarked from checkpoint no. 1, trudging along fields, tar roads, treacherous climbs and tricky descents. We walked in the blazing afternoon sun and moonlit sky and completed the walk in the wee hours of 25th November at checkpoint no. 10.

Resources to the rescue

The trail demanded customised gear to navigate through tricky terrain. I was well-equipped and even had my floaters as a backup. We carried trail walking sticks, caps, umbrellas, water, extra sets of sportswear viz. blister-free socks, jackets, medicines, foodstuff, and energy drinks.

As a team (3 females and 1 male), every individual was different. Our group had a trained trekker, a fitness enthusiast, and my husband and I who are marathoners, cyclists, and fitness freaks full of energy and enthusiasm. An otherwise 38-40 hour effort turned into an arduous 46-hour trip. A 100km trail shed the façade and brought out the best and worst in us. We walked as one, with each setback strengthening team bonding. Darkness knit our team tightly, despite no danger lurking in the dark.

Perseverance keeps you going

My feet weren’t prepared for blisters by taping them despite suggestions from Oxfam and warnings from my husband. At the end of 40 km, my feet had started blistering and swelling; my two small toes developed bleeding corns. The blister-free socks didn’t help.

Blistered feet

Medical teams at every checkpoint were equipped with taping, and I was given the required treatment. Moreover, physiotherapists at every checkpoint worked relentlessly to help us get back on our feet. Thereafter, I struggled to wear my shoes and couldn’t walk anymore. The afternoon heat had completely exhausted me, and I blacked out several times. I was tempted to quit the trail more than ever. Now was the test of my tenacity. My husband stood by me like a pillar of strength, reassuring and prodding me to complete the trail, saying it would be ‘his proudest moment’. That was the last time I contemplated quitting and looked ahead with purpose. Out came my floaters. With a bit of trepidation, but a burning resolve to hit the final checkpoint, I completed the remaining 60 km.

Think, Believe, Achieve

On 24th November, after completing 91 km, I had passed out! The medical team revived me and warned us that continuing for the last 9 km could land me in the hospital with no ambulance at several stretches on the trail. I had completed 91km despite excruciating pain; quitting now was not an option. The medical team’s warning didn’t deter my resolve. Our group had put in months of practice before the event and had to complete this trail together. Any member quitting meant we wouldn’t get the team certificates. After an hour’s rest, I was determined to get back on the trail with gusto. I had a good feeling that nothing would come in the way of my goal. I reassured myself that the body was just a willing ally, taking the mind’s orders to reach the goal. The universe was conspiring for me.

You become what you imagine...I attracted Victory

After around 46 hours, Team Crusaders reached checkpoint no. 10 – the Finish Point. I was energised, it was a magical feeling! We had made it despite trying conditions. The 100 km journey transformed our personalities and fostered new friendships.

Finish Point Happiness

Personally, this was a way to prove to myself that anything is achievable. As we collected our certificates and medals, we felt proud of what we’d achieved. Our journey had just begun!

The next edition is back. There’s ample time for all of us to prepare and conquer, and we can proudly say we are the first team to register for for Oxfam Trailwalker 2019!

Monisha Ramaiya, The Crusaders, Oxfam Trailwalker 2018

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