Blazing a trail
The SES will be out in force at this weekend’s Oxfam Trailwalkers event.
The fundraiser isn’t for the faint of heart; Participants need to traverse a 100 kilometre course on foot within a 48 hour time limit.
That hasn’t deterred four volunteers from the SES’ Croydon Unit however. Melanie Glover, Vicki Malins, Melinda Poile and Wendy Dunton will lace up as the Sweet Eastern Sirens – Back on Track, proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the SES logo.
While this is Wendy’s first time entering Trailwalkers, her teammates have all entered twice before, Melanie says.
“I can’t remember who the culprit is who said we should do it again. I’d have to blame the new girl,” Melanie laughs.
The team will be backed up by original Sweet Eastern Sirens member Myriam McNamara who will lead their Support Crew.
“Myriam has competed in two trailwalkers herself so she knows the importance of what having a good support crew means to the team.”
Walkers set off from Jells Park in Mount Waverley on Friday. The course winds through national parks and wetlands before finishing up in Weburn. Participants call for donations and raise funds, with money raised going to Oxfam.
Every member of the team walks the full 100 kilometres.
The Sweet Eastern Sirens (SES) have been walking almost every weekend in the lead-up to the big day. Melanie says they’re hoping to record their quickest time this year.
On their first walk, in 2008, they did it in 44 hours, and shaved that down to 40 hours and 30 minutes in 2010. This year, they’re shooting for 35 with an innovative strategy.
“In previous years we’ve stopped and slept, but this year we’re planning to go straight through the night,” Melanie says.
The Croyden team has already raised almost $2,000 this year solely through a call out for donations. In previous years, bolstered by fundraising events, they raised $3,000 (2008) and $6,000 (2010).
“Judging by the weather forecasts, I think we’re in for a cold night,” Melanie says.
“And blisters. I always get the most blisters, but I think I’ve found a good remedy this year.”
The Sirens won’t be the only SES presence over the weekend. Volunteers will don the orange to make sure walkers stay safe. They’ll be on patrol along the course to rescue anyone who gets into trouble. Given the gruelling nature of the event, it’s a valuable service.
“It is quite demanding,” Melanie says.
“It’s good to keep fit but it does take its toll. It takes a long time to recover.
Even though the Sirens have vowed this is their last year at Trailblazers, Melanie says its hard to match the feeling of crossing the finish line.
“It is a fantastic feeling when you get to the end. You’re really elated to have achieved something.”
So not that dissimilar from volunteering with the SES.
“Yeah, I love it. It’s a great group of people and a chance to give something back to the community.”
Once the walk is over, Melanie will head to Anglesea to soak her weary body in the ocean.
If you’d like to donate to the Sweet Eastern Sirens, or to read the blog they’ve been keeping about their training regime, visit tinyurl.com/6p9rg8v.