Walkers push the limits
Walkers push the limits
By: LEON VARLEY
The Msuna 24 hour endurance walk is now a firm fixture as an add-on to the annual five day Msuna fund raising walk, this year under the banner of Walking for Wild. This was the fourth year we have completed the walk, each time making changes to cover more distance and reach more sponsors.
Sara Norton, Adam Humphrey and I took part. Last year we managed to do 111km and we were hoping to beat that total this year within the allotted time. I was apprehensive because we not only had more sponsorship but there had been a lot of loose talk about completing the entire distance of 126km, increasing the pressure on us to literally walk the talk.
On top of that I’d had a bad fall seven weeks before, requiring fairly major surgery which curtailed my training. Both Sara and Adam were recovering from flu, while a busy weekend at her restaurant meant Sara was also tired.
At 9am on a fine June morning, we had a great send-off from representatives of the three trusts we were raising money for - which was greatly appreciated but ratcheted up the pressure on us to perform. Members of the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit accompanied us for the first hour before peeling off and cheering us on our way.
Our plan this year was to walk for 12km then rest for ten minutes. During the first few hours we made good time, mainly thanks to Adam, whose long stride meant his natural pace was faster than Sara's and mine and pushed us to keep up with him.
Just around sunset we got word that lion had been seen around the 80km mark so we had to rearrange our vehicle backup plan with support crewmen Dustin Laubaschagne and Guy Cockcroft. At the 70km mark Adam had started having feet problems but struggled on for another 10km, when he wisely retired to the backup vehicle. One benefit was he took his choice of music with him as his taste and mine are not exactly in sync!
At the 82km peg we had a traditional beer in memory of a very good friend, Wayne Edwards, who had died there in a vehicle accident, always a very poignant moment.
Just short of the Hwange/Deka road the majority of the five day walkers rose at four in the morning from their camp on the Zambezi to cheer us on. Sara alarmed me by saying she had to lie down at the next stop to close her eyes for five minutes. I couldn't think how that would be possible but after a short rest she was up and moving.
A phone call from Corey Jeal, one of the trust representatives, encouraged us just as I encountered a long hill, and gave me a the impetus to carry on as I had just hit the proverbial wall. The five day walkers joined us for the final stretch, as did Adam, who had somewhat recovered.
Sara was walking well and had pulled ahead by the time we came in sight of the causeway leading to Msuna Island. In her normal gracious way she waited for me so that we could finish together - which we did, in 23 hours and 15 minutes. All in all it was a successful walk and we raised USD10,000.00 for the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit and the International Anti Poaching Trust. Next year, who knows, 140km?