Team builds momentum for charity 100km walk

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All in . . . Oxfam Trailwalker team Flightless Birds (from left) Emma Gaustad, Marcelane Ballantyne, Bridget Johnston and Hannah Manson take a break from training at Cape Wanbrow in Oamaru. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Walking 100km will be a true test of teamwork and determination for Emma Gaustad, Marcelane Ballantyne, Bridget Johnston and Hannah Manson.

But the four Oamaru women will find the will to go the distance as they follow a higher cause.

In March, they are embarking on the 2019 Oxfam Trailwalker, a charity event in Whakatane in which teams of four walk 100km together to raise money to support people living in poverty in the Pacific region.

Training for a challenge like the Oxfam Trailwalker had been “high on the bucket list” for some of the team members, but the timing had not been right in previous years.

“This time around it was now or never and once we’d found four of us crazy enough to form a team, we all made the commitment to sign up and get the ball rolling,” Ms Ballantyne said.

And they were certainly walking the walk.

Individually, they had been “knocking out plenty of kilometres” around North Otago, fitting in team training when they could.

“We try to keep training interesting by varying our terrain, from walking the beach at Moeraki or Kakanui to bush walking at Herbert Forest,” Ms Ballantyne said.

“The Kepler and Old Ghost Road have [also] provided lots of opportunities to get to know each other really well and understand what challenges we’ll face physically and mentally throughout the 100km.”

As training progressed, the harsh reality of walking 100km was setting in, but they had “a few tricks up our sleeve to make it through the night and those final few kilometres”, Ms Ballantyne said.

“Walking that distance, staying awake for at least 28 hours and keeping each other in good spirits when the going gets tough [will be] quite an undertaking.

“The focus really is on participating alongside your team and ensuring everyone survives with minimal blisters.”

Ms Ballantyne said they were “extremely grateful” to have had strong support for the cause so far.

“We’ve nearly surpassed our fundraising target, which is incredible. Businesses such as Irricon Resource Solutions¬†and Brosnan Refrigeration have played a major role in hitting our fundraising goals, as well as smaller local businesses offering to supply goods for raffles.

“We’re [also] incredibly lucky to have an amazing support crew, Corrin Winmill and Gemma Oliver, coming with us up to Whakatane, along with family and friends supporting us, both here and up north when we arrive.”

They were still looking for “a few more local legends” to get their team across the line with fundraising and were looking forward to participating in coming local events.

To donate to the “Flightless Birds”, visit oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz/flightless-birds

To follow their progress, visit facebook.com/oxfamflightlessbirds