Oxfam Trailwalker: Last Minute Preparation Tips Paddy May 28, 2018 All When you take your first steps on the trail at Darlington (or Chidlow Recreation Ground), we want to make sure you’re set with the right gear while ensuring both you and your support crew have all the supplies to get you over that finish line at Forrestfield. As we have come to know and love it, the Oxfam Trailwalker is nothing short of an adventure. It requires resilient minds and bodies strapped into trusted footwear, wrapped in comfortable gear, fuelled with nutritious food and lifted by surrounding bushwalkers and support crews. Many participants have been training for days, weeks, months and perhaps even years! We’re here to help you with that final push in the last stages of your preparation, making sure you have the essentials for a great walking experience. Get dressed and pack your packs: An important rule of thumb: make sure your gear is well worn, tested and broken into before taking on a physical challenge such as the Oxfam Trailwalker. If you have had any new gear additions to your kit in the final stages of preparation, ensure you take these last couple of weeks to adequately break them in. By doing this you can minimise chafing, blisters and soreness while ultimately maximising your comfort. Don’t forget – it’s just as important to break in your spare pair that you will leave with your support crew, if you haven’t already done so. When choosing footwear (and spare footwear), consider the level of support you will need as your mental and physical fatigue sets in and factors such as low light come into play. It might be in your best interest to invest in a pair with more support for the final stretches of your walk, when fatigue paves the way for falls, tired supporting muscles or lack of concentration of foot placement that could easily lead to twisting an ankle. Similar to footwear, it is important to break in, carefully select, and have spare socks available. When choosing your socks, they must fit comfortably around your feet and fit perfectly inside your shoes. The sock should have an articulated y-heel design, arch and ankle elastic to ensure it doesn’t slip down, cushioning underfoot, a flat toe seam and fabric that keeps moisture away from your skin. If you are making any new sock purchases from now until you start your walk, we recommend bringing your intended walking shoes with you to try on and ensure suitable fit. Varied terrain and weather conditions can mean mud and scrub. Keep your legs protected and your walking shoes debris free with a pair of lightweight gaiters. If you’re after something ultralight and extremely compact, Dirty Girl Gaiters will do the job for your needs. For a little bit more coverage and durability, consider taking along a pair of Sea To Summit Tumbleweed Gaiters. Although you may run hot while actively moving through the course, account for breaks and potential mishaps by ensuring you have proper clothing for when you get cold. When taking a break, your sweat will cool and lower your body temperature and as such tighten your muscles. Keep warm by carrying a compact, lightweight insulation layer such as the Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket, weighing in at just over 200 grams, this could be the warmth you need for a weight your shoulders and back will love! When it comes to safety it’s imperative that you are stocked with both a first aid kit (with one thermal emergency blanket per team member) and head torches for when you embark into the night. A head torch will do you no good if you can’t navigate the trail in front of you, so make sure you have tested it out on a trail in the night prior to the event. The waterproofness of your head torch is something you may want to consider depending on the weather forecast for the event. A top performer for varying activities and light needs would be the Black Diamond Storm 350 Lumen Headlamp. This features a redesigned lighting profile which offers improved peripheral lighting for close-range activities like map reading or sorting gear. Don’t forget spare batteries or charging options! Minimise soreness and injury: As you break in your walking footwear, it’s critical to discover your hot spots (friction points) in each pair, so that you can prevent discomforts and carry supplies to tend to any potential blisters in these areas. Some on-hand and support crew essentials to minimise discomfort and foster the ability to push through and carry on include: Athletic tape Glide – ideal for the protection against friction and rubbing from footwear, clothing and skin on skin, chaffed, chapped and cracked skin from head to toe Plasters (to apply as soon as you feel heat building up!) Band- Aids Leukofoam or Moleskin To distribute weight from your legs and feet on such a long journey, we strongly recommend taking trekking poles along for the ride. Trekking pole can be shared and rotated between team members, and left with your support crew to use in final stages of the adventure. They could get you across the finish line! Stay fuelled and hydrated: Hydration will be key as you tackle this long distance walk. Easy access and ease to carry are criteria to prioritise when choosing a hydration system. Hydration packs can be a convenient way to store and frequently access large quantities of water while doubling as a pack to carry your gear! You can customise the size of your reservoir based on your needs (calculated from your personal training as hydration needs vary among individuals and conditions) and the same for the size of your pack depending how much you are bringing along with you. Awesome ways to fuel your body with carbs, protein and replenish your sugars include: Clif bars Clif Shot Blocks (can be purchased in store at your local Paddy Pallin) Gu Energy Gels KOEE! All Natural Beef Jerkey Support crew that supports YOU: Your support crew will be there for you when you need it most, trust us! To ensure you maximise their support, set them up with everything you may need to replenish, swap out, repair or use at the checkpoint. Travel light – only carry what you truly need between checkpoints, leave the rest with your crew. An extra pair of shoes can be a lifesaver to relieve those hot spots and pressure points. Budgeting around 4-6 pairs of socks to complete the track is a safe bet, leaving a number of them with your support crew to swap out for your wet, dirty or worn pairs. Consider leaving them with extra shoelaces, safety pins, Tenacious Tape, travel sewing kits or string should you need to make any on-the-trail repairs. Support crews can be your team’s lifeline when it comes to unexpected injuries and soreness. Equip them with enough of your first aid needs (such as tape or knee and ankle braces if it applies to your team), trekking poles in the event that you or your team members need them to cross the line, spare technical clothes if yours become wet or damaged, towels to dry off and clean up, and rubbish bags so you can pack out what you and your crew bring in! When you lay eyes on that checkpoint, you’ll be overwhelmed with relief and excitement knowing your support team has the goods for you. To maximise your break, send them with seating equipment for you and your team to take a rest (sleeping pads, camp chairs, waterproof camp rugs) as well as warm clothing, blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm while you stop. The snacks they have to restock your day packs as well as hot food they may have ready for you will be something you look forward to in the kilometres leading up to the checkpoint. Ensure you have enough food for you and your entire team, including any cooking equipment (pots, stove, fuel, utensils, lighters) they may need to make your trailside meal happen. Lastly, your support team needs to be comfortable and ready for this adventure themselves. They will need warm and comfortable gear, seating equipment, food and drinks as well as cameras to document the special moments along the way! Here’s to all the dedicated past, present and future walkers who have hit the trails for this great cause. Now, Perth….on your marks, get set, GO! 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