Just over a week away and the thought of competing in another Kokoda Challenge fills me with a real mixture of emotions. From excitement to doubt and everything in-between. But above all there is a pervading sense of acceptance. An acceptance that I am going to be in a world of physical pain and more so, mental fatigue.
Ray Zahab one of the world’s elite ultamarathon runners once said, “Ultramarathons are 90% mental and the other 10% is mental“.
The Kokoda Challenge
The Kokoda Challenge – http://www.kokodachallenge.com/ – is hailed as Australia’s toughest team endurance event. Over the weekend of 16 & 17 July 2011, around 2,500 people will attempt to complete a 96km trek through the Gold Coast hinterland. The equivalent of two and a half marathons, this mountainous course has summits of 5,000m of vertical elevation and 12 creek crossings.
This charity event commemorates the Aussie diggers who fought along the Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea, 1942. The actual track is 96km long and the diggers were from the 39th Battalion, hence the 39 hour time limit. The Kokoda Challenge honours the spirit of mateship, endurance, courage and sacrifice.
Teams of four start together, go through checkpoints together.. and ultimately finish together – never leaving a mate behind. Last year, less than half of the teams finished with all four members. A lot of participants who didn’t finish succumbed to blisters, exhaustion, hitting the wall or hyperthermia (at night it gets down to near zero degrees).
Last year my team completed the course in just under 24 hours. This year we are aiming for sub 18 hours. Team Nike Hammer multiple winners and the current record holders finished in 11 hours 42 minutes! The event sees school kids, old folk and everyday heros taking up the challenge.
2010 witnessed an inspirational story of a 17 year old blind boy Zachariah Clarkson, successfully completing the challenge.
So what am I expecting this time around?
Without a doubt it will be a real roller coaster of emotions. For those of you who have hit the wall before, know that it is a unique experience – I hit it three times last year. I will burn up around 16K calories, around a week’s worth of food. And lose a few toenails as well (I hobbled away with 7 intact last year).
Maybe I am going through an early midlife crisis to go through this again.
Heck, I am actually paying money for the experience!
The Kokoda Challenge has partnered again with KML Tracks to provide friends and family the ability the watch and track competitors, from their computers, in real time along the course via Google Earth. This feature will become available on the weekend of the event. Keep an eye out for my team GCA1 – #15.
Why am I doing this?
Simply put. There are so many questions in life, but when you eventually cross that finish line you are filled with all the answers. Jerry Seinfeld once said, “The road less travelled is less travelled for a reason.”
11 days to go til an adventure of a lifetime..
Matthew Tommasi is a runner and founder of The Social Media Guide – http://thesocialmediaguide.com/
Please show him support and follow him on his extraordinary journey !