Oxfam Trailwalker is a global phenomena and the ultimate team challenge trail. Every year it sees hundreds participate all over the world. In India the first Oxfam trail started from Bengaluru in 2012 and has percolated to Mumbai as well. To participate you are supposed to form a team of four and walk 100kms in 48 hours to make a big difference in someone’s life. Yes, all the money collected goes to 130 grassroots NGOs to address root causes of poverty and injustice.
You must start the challenge together and you must finish it together. Come forward and ‘walk for equality’.
This year witnessed the third edition of the Mumbai Trailwalker from November 20-22, 2015.
Bringing to you the whole experience from the team that participated and completed the trail sucessfully this year. Their highs, their lows and their journey ;
MEET THE TEAM: Eight Feet Runners
- Cox: Amit Dalmia
- Stroke: Animesh Agarwal
- Bowman: Gautam Das
- Middle crew: Malabi Das
- Support crew: Alpesh
Their Oxfam Trail As shared by Malabi Das;
We were a rather unlikely Quartet comprising three bankers and a communications professional, but we made a great team. We had nothing in common, except a passion for fitness and a do-or-die attitude. And of course, a deep desire to contribute to the cause: ‘Equality for all’. We collectively raised INR 1,50,500 for Oxfam.
A small introduction to the position we settled into during the course of the trail. Borrowing from ‘Rowing’ which is a rather excellent team sport, to best describe our roles…
Short, precise preparation
All four met for the first time on Nov 19, the eve of the event. But we did some homework and a great deal of planning before the event. Amit arrived with a boot full of ‘essentials’ to help us last the two-day trek through the wilderness of the Western Ghats. There was food, water, caps, first-aid kit, walking sticks, headlights – the works.
After a four-hour drive through the Mumbai traffic we reached their abode for the night, in the wee hours of Nov 20. Three hours of tossing on the bed and then we hit the road – all set out to nail the 100 km trail!
The first lap
It was a cool, breezy morning and we set off at 6 am sharp! Energetic and determined we glided through the first 2 kms. It was a beautiful trail and we were surrounded by picture-perfect scenery. Then started our first climb – we scrambled on all four for 4 kms straight and kept going. We were the fourth team to reach the first check-point. We were riding high on enthusiasm.
The second lap
Such was our excitement that we missed the trail and ran a full two km before realizing we were off track. We had to return to the check-point and start afresh. We were a little peeved, but we restarted with renewed determination. The second stretch was progressively difficult as the temperature soared and the blazing sun took a toll on us. However, the second check-point had a pleasant surprise waiting for us. Oxfam had organized young physiotherapists who worked their magic on our sore muscles renewing our vigor to keep going.
The third lap
By now, the toughness of the trail was not lost on us. We were climbing hills, sliding downhill on pebbly paths, and making way though large expanse of dry grassland with the scorching sun beating on our back. This was probably the toughest stretch. We had covered only 33 km in 10 hours. Reality check: we reset our ambitions of finishing in 24 hours.
After a good physio session and a cup of hot tea we were on our way again. This lap was much easier thanks to the fact that the sun was setting and the temperature eased considerably. We walked though the cracked mud of dry paddy fields, climbed hillocks, and crossed dry riverbeds; our eyes glued to back, very black stones with arrows in white and orange ribbons fluttering on thorny shrubs that marked our trail. We were sore, be determined. When we hit the main road again, the view of the large, dark, expanse of the Munsi lake was breathtaking. We finally reached the next checkpoint just as the sun disappeared across the horizon.
Out came our headlights. It was 7 pm and pitch dark. It was a short 6.2 km trek, so it shouldn’t be too hard. But as we made our way through the dark we realized it was going to be tough. There was not a soul around – just the four of us. We knew we shouldn’t under any circumstance loose the trail. It was a task looking for the white arrows on the ground and the shinny ribbons on the shrubs – it was just too dark. If we missed the trail, we would be surrounded by just the darkness! It was 9 pm when we reached the check-point triumphant! We had reached the half-way mark – we had conquered 50 km! A quick dinner (we even got some yummy chicken for the takers J). Many take a short break here, but we decided to take our break after the 63 km mark.
The next lap was the hardest! We were warned that the trail was narrow and difficult. We had the squeeze between two boulders, the path down was steep, and there were several climbs. Plus, we had to cross small rivulets in the dark. It was eerie with nothing but the jungle around us. The trail kept meandering and we got lost. What should have taken 4 hours took us 6 hours. We were tired, sleep-deprived and lost. We finally emerged onto the main-road at the crack of dawn, just on the verge of giving up – but that was not an option. We kicked off our shoes, and the physio therapists welded their magic.
It was a brand new day and we had covered three-fourth of the trail. The trail followed an old bullock cart path, up a gradual slope and down across a vast open pasture and scrub land. Some parts of the trail open up to spectacular valley views. With the end in sight, we rather enjoyed the stretch.
This lap was said to the toughest with rocky uphill trails and also long stretches without shade. But with 86.6 km under our belt, we were not ready to nail the remaining distance come what may. We sure were tired, but very determined. We fared rather well and reached the ninth check-point triumphant.
The weather god smiled upon us and suddenly the sky because cloudy, casting cool shadows making the final trek easier. We walked, stumbled on, while Gautam, still full of energy ran the last few kilometers to reach Cloud Nine – the finish point. The last kilometer seemed the longest. We kept going uphill and downhill, without the end in sight. We finally reached after what seemed forever and almost fell to our knees – we congratulated each other – we had done it!
What we took back from the trail was some life learnings
Plans can go haywire, might necessitate course correction early in the journey itself specially if you are in uncharted territory.
When you want to go fast, go alone. But when you want to go far, go with someone. Essence of team effort.
Everyone in the team has a role to play and we need to use the resources to their best ability.