“Our vision is for a world where no one is needlessly blind, and Indigenous Australians enjoy the same health and life expectancy as other Australians.” Fred Hollows (1929-1993) was an inspirational Australian whose work restoring sight is continued by the Hollows Foundation. Coastrek is a challenging annual Sydney endurance walking event organised by Wild Women on Top that is a significant fundraiser for the Hollows Foundation.
Coastrek offers choices – a beach and bush 55km endurance walk from Palm Beach to Balmoral, or a more urban 55km from Coogee to Balmoral. The Coastrek fundraising component is set ambitiously high ($500 per entrant in 2015), but fortunately the Hollows Foundation is is a well known and worthwhile cause and raising funds is relatively easy.
As a group, we’ve done a number of endurance events, including both legs of Coastrek more than once, and also assisted Wild Women on Top organisers as volunteers at Coastrek.
Train for free for Wild Women on Top Coastrek
Coastrek is an achievable and enjoyable event for healthy adults who put in the training work and event preparation required beforehand. The Coastrek website provides in depth resources to assist with training and preparation. It’s good to remember that the human body was made for walking, you can do it!
We like to train on the Coastrek route as a team, so that we can chat, test our gear and get familiar with the route. We also train for distance walking events through our free regular weekly bush walks (see our timetable and list of Sydney bushwalks), which include interval and endurance workouts. The personal benefits of entering distance walks include increased fitness, quality friendships, and positive lifestyle changes. You will also discover new secret beaches and headlands in your training walks, seeing more of your city on foot than you ever see behind the wheel.
How to choose an Endurance Event
We’ve completed a number endurance events in the Sydney region, and have our favourites. If the 55km distance of Coastrek is daunting for you, or you are unsure of your fitness, you might want to consider a slightly shorter event like the Jabulani Challenge (various distances) or the scenic and non-competitive Seven Bridges Walk (27km). Either of these family friendly events are a great choice to start your distance walking challenges.
If the high Coastrek entrance fee and fundraising component is a problem, other events, including Seven Bridges Walk, Jabulani and Wild Endurance, are considerably cheaper.
Heat, humidity and surfaces
The scenery along Coastrek is fantastic, you will discover beaches and headlands you didn’t know existed. As it is based within Sydney, training logistics are simple, and coffee is easy to find, although you probably won’t want it.
However it can be very hot and humid training through summer. Distance on hard surfaces, particularly on the Balmoral-Coogee leg, can be a source of tiredness and injury. If you prefer to train in cooler weather, or prefer to walk on softer more natural surfaces than pavement, you might want to consider the friendly and scenic 50km event Wild Endurance. Wild Endurance takes place on trails in the Blue Mountains in May.
Friends keeps you going
Coastrek is a team event, with a fixed team size of 4. Team support greatly increases the fun. For many women, friends are the reason for entering their first distance event, and camaraderie on the track is what sustains them throughout the event (no marketers, its not your goos and gels). Your team members provide support when you hit a low spot which, for me, is usually around 35km.
If you are already fit, and the fixed Coastrek team size of 4 is a problem, some events such as Wild Endurance allow flexible team sizes of 2-5. In other events, such as North Face 50 in the Blue Mountains, you can enter as an individual. Even when entering as individuals, we still train and walk together to support and entertain each other on the track, so the team friendship benefits are not lost. The social fitness of distance walking is a great mood lifter (serotonin, endorphins galore) for coping with life’s challenges. Social exercise is the best natural protection against illness and disease.
We love to introduce new friends who haven’t tried an event before, or who think they can’t do it, to the fun and satisfaction that comes from completing a long distance walk. We can all do it, it’s just walking!
If you have completed Wild Women on Top Coastrek, and are looking for a new challenge with your friends, try Wild Endurance and North Face, which have 50km events, with glorious mountain scenery but are more technically challenging with significant ascents and descents. You can also step up to the 100km events. Both of these are popular events, but not quite as hard to enter as very popular 100km Oxfam Trailwalker.
Distance walking can be addictive – done all those and looking for something more? AdventureRace has many other events listed to get you moving.
It’s true what they say, every little bit adds up to something big. This applies to fundraising, restoring sight, and walking long distance. Take that first step!