It’s all about teamwork… or is it?

Recently I completed the OXFAM Trailwalker and it was a damn tough feat. I have never completed an endurance event of this kind before and let me tell you it seemed easy however it was anything but. I started at 7am on Friday morning and I did not stop until 3pm the next day. At the finish, my feet looked like they had been cooked on coals and my head was somewhere between Warburton and Timbuktu. But the end result was good. No the end result was great. No it was better than that. The end result was that I had just walked 100km in 31 hours!

Now some of you might be asking why the hell I would even contemplate such an arduous challenge to begin with. To be honest I don’t really know but I do know that it was definitely my first and last time. At the time of enrolment it seemed like a good idea, a physical challenge but it was a challenge I significantly underestimated. It was all starting to come to a head at 3am Saturday morning however a phone call from England really spurred me on and provided some much needed motivation. Thank you Fran!

It wasn’t so much physically draining as it was mentally draining. Once the fatigue kicked in I knew then it wasn’t going to get easier. I was in for a tough ride. We stopped at checkpoints along the way to recuperate, have a massage and have our feet checked. But as the day and night wore on it was difficult to sustain our energy levels and the longer I rested the harder it was on my body to keep going. My muscles were seizing up and my feet were just burning.

But it wasn’t the physical pain that bothered me. It was the lack of teamwork. We were not a team and unbeknownst to many we did not finish as a team. One team-mate had to pull out at the 32 kilometre mark, the other pulled out at 72 kilometres and I very nearly followed his lead. For one brief second I honestly thought I could not go on and was almost going to announce calling it a day but the voice inside my head said otherwise. It was pure mental torture but the voice was telling me that I wasn’t coming back next year to attempt it again. I was stronger than that. This was it! This was most definitely my first and last time. I went on and the rest is history.

Two months on I reflect back on this achievement. Yes I am proud of myself but the lack of team work still bothers me or I should say lack of leadership. It was our team captain’s (let’s call her The Captain) third attempt to finish 100 kilometres after forces beyond her control in previous years prevented her from completing the event. I should have picked up the warning signals early on. She was much fitter than the rest of us because she had more time to train and as soon as we set out that Friday morning she took off like Godzilla. When we arrived at checkpoint one she was already waiting for us and she shoved a banana in our hand and shuffled us on to commence the next leg without a rest. It was a condition that teams had to check out together.

Fast track to Saturday afternoon at 1pm and it was hot – 31 degrees. I arrived at checkpoint six on my own after a 20 kilometre leg. I was in pain and absolutely spent.  After phoning The Captain to tell her I had arrived she comes over to me and tells me she is checking out with another team. I am too slow for her and I am prolonging her pain, she tells me. I could not believe what I was hearing and I had never felt so alone like I did right then. She was abandoning me! There was only seven kilometres left of the journey and she does this to me now. After resting, eating and licking my wounds, I found another team to check out with. All four of them were still intact – still together and I notice immediately the rapport between them. I walked with this team most of the way but towards the end I said I wanted to finish it on my own because I didn’t feel comfortable finishing with the team. That was the truth – I was alone because I had no team and I didn’t want to take away any glory from the other team. I walked through the finish line at 3.00pm and although I smiled for the camera, there was an undercurrent of bitter disappointment and sadness already brewing. 

Overall, I was disappointed with the efforts of our “team” to work together as one. I have no regrets about doing this but one can never underestimate the value of teamwork. I learnt a good lesson.

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~ by Shae on June 16, 2010.

2 Responses to “It’s all about teamwork… or is it?”

  1. Hi Shae, it was a fantastic achievement, well done !!!!!! sometimes we pick the wrong team but most times we get it right, always tust your instincts!! take care

  2. In this case it was all you! haha, You did it even though you felt abandoned and alone, which could have broken you down but it made your mind even stronger! You were mentally not supported yet managed to be strong enough to pull yourself all the way through it. What an achievement and mental strength!

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