By Nikki Moore, from Team K Kweens
On Thursday afternoon, two flights arrived in Adelaide. One from Melbourne, the other from the APY Lands. Our K Kweens awesome foursome was complete. Once we had converged into our lounge, got the re-united school friends chatter out the way - Tiff, Rach and I go way back - and introduced Em, we packed the car and headed to the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology had forecast rain and possible thunderstorms clearing later in the afternoon, all week.
Great. Start in the rain, finish in the dark.
By the time we awoke at 5am on Friday morning, they were forecasting showers at 1pm, with stormy conditions starting around 3pm.
Great. Start in the muggy 17 degrees and finish in the rain in the dark.
We set off just after 6am, starting at the back of the pack, heading down the coastal walk from Waitpinga, past Parsons Beach, into Newland Conservation Park, following the bright pink ribbons marking our course. We followed the beautiful, undulating track through dense bushland with the wildflowers turning it on to make the trek that little bit more spectacular. Bracken and scrubby framed windows displayed the rugged coastline full of white, frothy water crashing onto rocks, cliffs and beaches. A warm breezy tail wind gently guided us towards that magnificent iconic Bluff at Victor Harbor.
We sent a quick text to our support crew 20kms from the start, with our order for brekky. My youngest daughter ran towards us with a smashing grin on her face and a box of delicious egg and bacon rolls, sourced from Ash at the Yilki Store - the best you will find anywhere!
After we consumed breakky, we turned on our fave music and hiked our way up to the top of The Bluff where we had a good look at where we had just walked. We then gazed, squinting into the distance, for our destination!
Down The Bluff, we walked along the beach where the reality of what we were trying to accomplish, combined with the humidity and the lingering egg and bacon roll sitting not quite so well with Tiff K Kween, started to hit. We regathered at a toilet stop, smashed some Hydralytes into her, and headed down towards the beach and the sand that she was loving so very much (not). Then we realised we are a tough bunch of women and there was no stopping us!
We then walked towards the halfway point of Granite Island. Wait, what! Really? Did we really have to loop that island? Yes, yes we did. We dropped our packs at the tree then had a rather lightweight walk around Granite before donning our packs and heading across the boardwalk to the first checkpoint, first aid, food, beverage and rest stop.
A quick re-taping of our blistered toes and we headed for the next 30kms.
Sand, sand and more sand.
The trek had flattened out somewhat, which made looking back to see how far we’d come, that little bit more difficult. How much further? Is the watch correct? What does the map say? No-one wanted to get their phones out to check, but those pink ribbons kept coming which meant we were on the right track at least. One foot in front of the other.
At Point Elliot Bakery it was lattes all round. Another blister taping, a toilet stop, and a refill of our water packs before we were off again.
Towards the checkpoint with 13kms remaining, we stopped again to retape our blisters. This time with a podiatrist available! The beauty of coming near last, is there was no line up! After a bit of whale-watching and wet weather gear sorting, with Tiff K Kween looking like Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants, our individual music was turned back on and we were on our way again.
A few kilometres in and my left arch decided to make itself known that it had fallen, causing the beginning of a slow, monotonous ache through the middle of my foot and out towards the cuboid - the sticky-outy bone in your foot - as well as in my ankle joint and the front ankle tendon. There was a realisation that this was only going to get worse and fessing this meant my mental focus would be challenged. The only way was onwards.
Into the dusk we walked. Head torches found their way out of our bags, shining into the eyes of little frogs who made their way onto the path, watching as we stepped over them. At this point, to be honest, we couldn’t step over anything. We needed to spot them at least ten feet away, which would give our brains time to tell our hips to pick a better line to walk so we didn't squish the frogs.
One last trudge along the beach where the sand was hard at last! But for one of us, our hardness was waning a little. We were grateful for the darkness so we couldn’t see the pain we were all in by then! The uneven, sandy tracks were doing my left foot no favours whatsoever and the darkness to hide the pain was well received. Unbeknownst to all of us at the time, the emotions of our youngest Emily K Kween - in realising what she was achieving - had led to some eye leaking. But there are strong women in her family. It's in her blood. So she gathered herself like a Kween and powered forward. We all did. Heading towards Goolwa SLSC, we weren’t about to stop unless we had to. But then, we had to. Blisters had got the better of one of our Kweens, so we pulled up a chair in the first aid room.
At that point we had walked 56kms. Through scrub, over rocky tracks, along sandy beaches, up stairs, down stairs and although we were pig-headedly motivated and steadfastly determined, sometimes the body has something else to say and we needed to listen. For one of us, the pain of blisters was too much and the realisation of stuffing swollen, puffy, wet feet back into shoes that weren’t made for slipping on and off at will exacerbated that. Top that off with a bout of hypoglycaemia, cold clothing and shock from feet pain, and even considering walking two steps let alone another 4kms...
Once we knew Rach K Kween was out of the woods, she looked me in the eye and said steely, “I will see you at the finish line”. I knew, in that moment, that she was tougher than that hypo was going to let her think she was. And as always, our ever present Support Crew members were there to ensure she was in good hands and the three remaining K Kweens were on our way to finish what we started.
Onwards we walked, waddled, and limped the last 4kms to the finish line, with our youngest jumping in puddles like she was Gene Kelly in singing in the rain! Along the boardwalk, around the wharf, and we were greeted by the most wonderful applause, cow-bell ringing, bright lights flashing, a glass of champagne offered by Adelaide Coastrek organisers and Rach K Kween, true to her word, met us at the finish line!
We were the last team over the line. All the teams who made it to the 56km mark behind us had pulled out. And here we were, with medals around our necks, feeling pretty damn proud of ourselves!
Are you ready to take on the super 60km or the thrilling 30km Coastrek challenge? Register your interest now and walk for mental health.