MORE THAN forty lawyers will pound the streets of Melbourne, then three different national parks, and the Yarra Valley this month in an energetic contribution to the charity Oxfam.
Lawyers from Allens Arthur Robinson, Lander & Rogers, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Herbert Geer & Rundle Clayton Utz and Corrs Chambers Westgarth will undertake the 100-kilometre “Oxfam Trailwalker” in under 48 hours to pass the physical challenge set, beginning on Friday 23 March.
For Claytons Utz special counsel Mark Krenzer, who is a self-proclaimed “sports tragic”, the Melbourne Trailwalker presents a great challenge.
Krenzer also sees the walk as a way to get to know some people in his firm better than he otherwise might. This is the second time Krenzer has competed in the challenge, but last year’s competition was cut short for many teams at 75 kilometres when snow threatened and the trail was closed when it was deemed unsafe for the joggers.
“The problem in Melbourne last year was that at around 11pm on the Friday night they actually closed the trail until the following morning because of the weather conditions. It was a great day for running but it wasn’t a great night be climbing a two-and-a-half thousand metre mountain at the end of it all,” he said.
Teams comprise four people, and generally they train together prior to the event. This includes getting their gear together and being properly prepared to complete the 100-kilometre trail. Clayton Utz’s team was not prepared last year for the surprise bad weather, said Krenzer. “We basically weren’t prepared for that at all. We hadn’t brought any sleeping gear because we were planning to go straight through. So we had to pull out at the 75-kilometre mark because they wouldn’t let us go any further and we couldn’t stay overnight anywhere. So that was the end of us last year.”
The biggest shock last year, said Krenzer, was his sore feet in the last stages of the trail. But this year he will be prepared with “double socking” and by carrying a replacement pair of shoes with him.
“I am frightened of foot soreness. Even last year, getting to the 75-kilometre mark, in the last 10 or so my feet literally felt like they were on fire and in some respects it was almost a relief to be told at the 75-kilometre mark that we couldn’t go any further. I can’t say I was looking forward to doing the rest. But it almost felt better to be running than walking. The feet were so sore for having been going for 14 hours straight, and I am worried about that happening again this year,” he said.
“So at each checkpoint I can change my shoes; so I will have at least a fresh pair that hasn’t been constantly pounded. It’s the walking and running for that long on the soles of your feet [that hurts]. I am not sure there is a way to toughen yourself up to try and minimise it,” he said.
For Lander & Rogers senior associate Adam Saunders, to finish the 100-kilometre challenge would be a great achievement in itself. “Not only the psychological but the physical side will be very challenging,” he said.
The Lander & Rogers team have been meeting and training together, and a small number of other people from within the firm have joined in. Some of the team expected the walk to be relaxed. With no plans to run, they thought they would find the challenge far from being one.
“[The training] has been a bit of a shock to the system. The thousand steps are part of it as well, which has made it challenging. The first time we met we started off training and thought we were going for a walk to the shops. But we weren’t prepared; we didn’t have enough water or sunscreen. And all the other groups are going past us with all their gear. By the end of it we were a bit delirious.
“You would think we would know better for next time, but we forgot the maps and got lost in Belgrave. We went past a fish and chips shop and thought, ‘Can we stop for a bit?’.”
Saunders’ team is the first from the firm to have done it, but more people have promised to get involved next year. Saunders himself says he will see how it goes this month before he signs himself up for another year.
For Clayton Utz’s Krenzer, training for the Melbourne Trailwalker is great way to get out of the office “and is a great alternative to being in the office”.
“I am a bit of a sports tragic, but not a particularly fit person. It’s something I try and find time to do. I think out of everything I have done in my so-called sporting career, this has proven to be the hardest and has caused the most pain. I have done the around-the-bay-in-a-day cycle challenge here in Melbourne, which is 210 kilometres on the bike, so that is pretty substantial. And I have done a few marathons in the past, but nothing is quite as difficult as the Trailwalker,” said Krenzer.
The firm has paid the entry fee for the Clayton Utz teams, of which there are two. Each team is also required to fundraise and to commit to raise a certain amount of money.