The Oxfam trailwalk started in 1981 in Hongkong as a military training exercise for the Queen’s Gurkha Signals, one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Over the years, this has become a popular endurance challenge and at the same time has raised money to help developing countries.
The challenge is to walk 100 kilometers in under 48 hours. This is a very long walk and participating in this gruelling task has its challenges. In a study done in Hong Kong in 2007, medical risks of the 100 km walk were assessed. Researchers have found that the most common problems encountered were blisters of the feet, diarrhoea, skin irritation, wounds and acute joint pain. In fact, the number one reason for not crossing the finish line was blisters and at the Sydney Oxfam trailwalk in 2011, 73% of walkers developed blisters. In another study, they found that 60.8 % of the participants complained of muscle cramps.
For those participating in the upcoming OxFam Trailwalker event in Brisbane on the 19-21 June, we hope that as you read this, you have had ample time to train and prepare your body for the arduous task. So, before you embark on your 100 km walk with your team, here are some last minute tips for next weekend:
Hiking boots or trail running shoes are the best shoes to wear. Make sure you that you have worn them before and have broken them in. Do not wear new shoes. Bring an extra pair with you just in case your shoes become too uncomfortable.
Bring several pairs of socks. Wet socks due to sweat, can make the skin of your feet weak, making it prone to skin irritation and blisters. Cotton socks are not recommended as they keep the moisture in.
Research has shown that trekking poles reduce the risk of lower limb injuries especially going down the mountain. It was also mentioned that in another study, 71% of ankle injuries were sustained by walkers not using a pole during the descent. It is worthwhile to use some poles for this long walk.
NAILS and CALLUSES:
your toe nails before the walk. If you have any calluses that have developed over the months, file them so they will less likely to bother you while you walk.
Some prevention strategies include using tape, powder, lubricants patches and for some people, orthotics. Make sure you have them handy in your backpack. Blister prevention strategies are listed at www. Blisterprevention.com.au: Here is a link to a good read on this.
This has been associated with dehydration, muscle weakness and lack of electrolytes. Make sure that you are well hydrated and do not forget to stretch once in a while during your walk.
We have given you some tips on how to survive the walk. We hope you have a good support team, keep hydrated, use trekking poles, look after those feet and have a happy smile. Enjoy the 100 km walk through the bush. Good luck.
Send us a picture of you crossing the finish line. We know your team will!
Au, Ho. Injury pattern and factors affecting the performance in Oxfam Trailwalker 2006, Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Au,Ho. The walkers who finished Oxfam Trailwalker 2006: who were they? Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine 2007; 14 (3)154-62
Howatson et al. Trekking poles reduce exercise-induced muscle injury during mountain walking. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise
Photo Courtesy of Christopher Beavon and Gabi Meeson