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The Oxfam Challenge: The Strength of Friendship

The Oxfam Challenge: The Strength of Friendship
It’s always easier to be active - and to stay active - when you’ve got a friend or two by your side. Together you can encourage and support each other. They’re people who can help you reach your fitness goals with a smile. So if a gym buddy can be that special then what about someone you walk 100 kilometres with?_x000D_ _x000D_ If you’re ever out bushwalking and spot multiple groups of walkers kitted out to the extreme then it’s fair to say the Oxfam Trailwalker is coming to your city. The Oxfam Trailwalker is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a grueling 100-kilometre race that can take up to 48 hours to complete, all in the name of charity. Groups of walkers spend months in advance training, sometimes walking 50 kilometres in a single session. But getting fit and finishing the race isn’t all it’s about. Such a harsh event can create something beautiful: life-long friendship._x000D_ _x000D_ oxfam-walk_01_x000D_ _x000D_ Fiona Haines-Pettet, Sonya Panozzo and Kim Pederson all took the challenge in 2013. They’re women with different life experiences and goals but they worked well as a team. I spoke to them all to see what they got out of such a monumental event._x000D_ _x000D_ Here’s the obvious question, why did you do it?_x000D_
Fiona: A friend at the gym suggested joining her and some friends to do the walk in 2011. At the time I was looking for a new physical challenge, as the gym was getting boring. I also had been doing some bush walking at the time in preparation for a trip to Tasmania to walk the Overland Track and since I was enjoying that, walking with others would be a good way to continue to improve my walk fitness._x000D_ _x000D_ Sonya: Fiona! Not much thought was given, I'm afraid. I enjoy exercise and thought it would be nice to do something a little different._x000D_ _x000D_ Kim: I had massaged both Fiona and Sonya through their first Oxfam (in 2012) and was impressed and intrigued by the idea. I am not particularly self-motivated so the idea of taking on such a challenge would only be possible if I was guided and encouraged by others whom I respect.
_x000D_ And the second time around for you, Fiona and Sonya?_x000D_
S:  Insanity! With the experience of the first one behind us, I thought the second time around I could take more in as "the unknown" element had been removed._x000D_ _x000D_ F: This is a very good question. Several reasons. Firstly, because I enjoyed all the training and most of the event and wanted to repeat that feeling. The exhilaration of knowing you have just walked 100km without sleep is pretty good. Secondly to prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke that I finished._x000D_ _x000D_ It’s clear you’re all very good friends now, but how long had you known one another before taking on the challenge?_x000D_ _x000D_ F: I’d known Sonya for 8 years and she’s since sworn she will never again commit to anything I ask her to do if she has had alcohol._x000D_ _x000D_ K: I’d been a massage therapist for both Fiona and Sonya for about a year or so when they asked me to join them._x000D_ _x000D_ Would you say your relationships with one another have strengthened since the event as a result of what you went through together?_x000D_ _x000D_ S: Well, we certainly know more about one another. Many kilometres meant many, many stories from each of us._x000D_ _x000D_ F:  Relationships became very strong over the time of training and afterwards_x000D_ _x000D_ K: We spent so much time with each other; it was easy to bond with the other ladies. We all get along well and share a similar sense of humour which, I believe, was a critical aspect of completing the training and event. For me personally, the advice and guidance I have gained from the friendships over the past 18 months has been invaluable.
_x000D_ When I asked them about their favourite memories of the training and event, the answers kept coming. Sonya was eager to say the finish line but added that the chance for a weekly catch-up free of other distractions was always a treat. Fiona loved the scenery and always having someone to talk to and laugh with. Kim got to the heart of it all though:_x000D_ _x000D_ Each of us had bad days, weak moments and pain, but the encouragement and support never wavered. And now we're good friends because of it._x000D_ _x000D_ oxfam-walk_02_x000D_ _x000D_
_x000D_ _x000D_ AUTHOR: Madeline Pettet_x000D_ IMAGES: Madeline Pettet

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