“Why? Are you crazy?”
That was the response I received when I asked my Forum mates if they wanted to enter an EO team into the Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker event. Oxfam Trailwalker is the world's greatest team challenge, and it's also one of the toughest. Being entrepreneurs and all, I figured we would more than be up for the challenge.
And what a challenge it was!
Oxfam Trailwalker events are held each year in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Japan and Belgium. For Australian participants, the goal was to get a team of four across 100km of Australian bush in less than 48 hours. What’s more, we had to raise at least US$1,000 for charity, which would be used to help fight global poverty and suffering.
I was keen to partake in this adventure, especially through my Forum. In my 10 years as a member, I've established numerous unique relationships, so it was great to leverage them for this event. What's more, the challenge of this event so perfectly fit the EO values of going boldly and once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I couldn’t resist. I saw this as a great opportunity to get the EO brand out there!
With that in mind, I proposed the challenge to my Forum group. Most of my peers responded in horror at the concept of walking 100kms; one member committed to the challenge on the spot and one showed mild interest. Despite the less-than-enthusiastic response from the other eight members, I didn’t give up. I was confident there were likeminded folks out there willing to adopt the challenge. Like with my Forum, I needed support.
This event is all about teamwork. You need to start together, go through each checkpoint together and finish together. And considering the intensity and pressure of the event, the challenge of staying united and strong as a team was enormous. With my EO peers in tow, we decided to trek under the name “Kia Kaha Tu Tika,” which means “Stay Strong, Stand True.”
Now, when you’ve walked for 20 hours, have 30kms more to go, have not slept and you are physically and emotionally exhausted, you are tested like no other situation. The event was very tough, but it was well worth it. We wound up crossing the finish line in 29 hours, 25 minutes 5 seconds. To put that in perspective, the fastest team time was 14 hours and 24 minutes. The slowest: 47 hours and 3 minutes. Not bad!
Significantly more pleasing was the amount of money we earned from sponsorship. We were the 28th top fundraiser for the event, raising an impressive US$14,070. That’s enough to establish a micro-credit system in Zimbabwe or provide clean water systems for three schools in Cambodia. All in all, 500 teams raked in US$3,097,832 in fundraising dollars!
The Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker event was my greatest challenge this year— physically, emotionally and spiritually. I discovered new strengths, new fears, new pain, and most importantly, new depths of EO friendship and support.