Walkers go the extra mile to raise funds

Enjoying the spoils after their 50km trek are (from left) Phoebe Scarsbrook, Janine Oliver,...
Enjoying the spoils after their 50km trek are (from left) Phoebe Scarsbrook, Janine Oliver, Amanda Scarsbrook and Grace Scarsbrook. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
A group of South Canterbury women put their bodies to the test by tackling a 50km walk in an effort to raise funds to help eliminate poverty.

The Oxfam Trailwalker event has run for the last 17 years raising more than $16million for various humanitarian projects.

This year’s event in New Plymouth would, however, be the last iteration of the long-running fundraiser.

Janine Oliver had previously taken part in the event as part of a support crew and said she had always wanted to take part in the event properly before she got "too old".

A team of four was required to take part with entrants able to choose from a 25km, 50km or 100km walk. A minimum fundraising amount was also required.

Striking a pose as they tackle the 50km walk in New Plymouth are (from left) Phoebe Scarsbrook,...
Striking a pose as they tackle the 50km walk in New Plymouth are (from left) Phoebe Scarsbrook, Grace Scarsbrook and Janine Oliver.
After previously taking part in a women’s adventure race together, Mrs Oliver decided to reach out to her friend Amanda Scarsbrook and through a slight bit of arm twisting she eventually convinced her to join the team.

The pair were then joined by Mrs Scarsbrook’s twin daughters Phoebe and Grace and "Duckies Angels" were born.

Mrs Oliver said the team name derived from a toy stuffed duck that Phoebe and Grace had sent to her doorstep as a joke.

The stuffed duck joined them on the walk and garnered them quite a bit of fame among other teams taking part in the event, she said.

Despite the daunting task ahead of them, training was a little tricky, Mrs Oliver said.

"Myself and Amanda trained together a few times while Phoebe and Grace trained together in Christchurch so all four of us never actually got to train together.

"We didn’t train an awful lot, I think the most we probably did was a little over 30km."

The biggest challenge of the race wasn’t the physical toll, but rather the mental one, Mrs Oliver said.

"We had a map that gave us the distance markers and we had to check in a certain points along the way. It was interesting because our watches were giving us completely different distances than the map.

"When we got to the first 15km checkpoint, I checked my watch and we had done more like 18km. It was quite mentally challenging knowing we couldn’t actually trust our own map and in the end we did a lot more than just 50km."

The trail the group took on featured a variety of challenging terrain from native forest to bush track, farmland to beaches and roads to footpaths.

Unfortunately, Mrs Scarsbrook could not overcome a previous injury that had been bothering her and was forced to retire but Mrs Oliver, Phoebe and Grace soldiered on to finish the event with a time of 12 hours 23 minutes and one second.

They finished in 14th place overall of a total of 38 teams in the 50km section.

"It wasn’t really about the race and finishing as high as we could, it was about taking part and raising as much money as we could for such an important cause," Mrs Oliver said.

Their team raised $3855 and the event in total raised $498,651.

She hoped another event would step up to take the place of the departing Oxfam Trailwalker.

Her advice for anyone wishing to tackle a long-distance trek — make sure you invest in hikers’ wool.