The Oxfam Trailwalker is an annual 100 km charity hike from Parsley Bay to Manly which raises funds to support Oxfam's movement to tackle poverty. This year, four of Hansen Yuncken's brave team members took on the challenge. Read on as Project Manager Steve Kogias reflects on the experience from his perspective.
"Flashback to November 2018 – the Inner Sydney High School project team was in its infancy, with several new starters to Hansen Yuncken. It was concluded that a great way to bring the team closer together would be to spend 30 hours side by side in the wild terrain of Sydney. Perhaps a little naively, James Finch, Peter Dworacek, Billy Wright and I signed up.
We commenced fundraising and started discussing a training plan of attack soon after. Billy Wright had to pull out due to constant injuries from his semi-amateur, part-time footy career, and Lew Telley bravely subbed off the bench.
After completing two training walks in the lead-up to the ‘race’ we thought we were ready. That was until on race week, disaster struck! James Finch severely injured his knee and had to pull out. Left in a bind, I turned to the one member of the organisation who I knew would have the patience, tenacity, physical fitness and mind power to spend 30 hours trekking through the treacherous bush. The one… the only… Dom Clifton, with only four days’ notice, courageously stepped up to the challenge. With a few rebooked flights, some borrowed equipment, words of advice from a few Oxfam veterans within HY, and a liberal application of Pro-Glide, Dom became our Super-Sub.
5 am Friday 23 August 2019, we met on site at Inner Sydney High School. James Finch, who would be our support crew for the entire race, was also acting as our Uber driver.
We arrived at Parsley Bay at 6 am. The temperature was around 6 degrees.
6:55 am and we found ourselves on the starting line. Everyone was cracking jokes and in good spirits. The fact that we hadn’t really trained hadn’t yet dawned on The Kogsters. On the trail, we got into a rhythm and were making good time. The first two checkpoints were relatively easy and we were in the top 20 by Checkpoint 2. Checkpoint 3 was a difficult section, with the Kogsters navigational skills being tested. A 2 km detour due to Peter getting us lost caused a few tense moments on the trail. Day light was fading fast, and we spent an hour at Bobbin Head getting our feet taped.
Checkpoint 4 was the first night check point, and by the time we arrived at the St Ives Showground, the mental games had begun. It was bitterly cold – there was an undeniable chill in the air. Bodies were starting to ache. Special fried rice for dinner and we were back on the trail. Checkpoint 5 and 6 became a bit of a blur. Freezing cold, pitch black, hours without a word being muttered, head noise – having a great time.
As we approached the last check point, and the sun began to rise, spirits lifted significantly. At 7 am Saturday morning, we received a motivational call from our Site Manager – Marc Oriel. This fired up the team and saw us finish with a wet sail. Whilst our pace was significantly slower, in spirit we were flying.
I have been asked several times if I would ever do it again. Without hesitation I would say a thousand percent… On the proviso that it’s with this same bunch of Kogsters!”
Steve Kogias | Project Manager