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Raglan team awake to challenges of epic walk

The boot’s well and truly on the other foot for Sharlene Poole as she and three other Raglan women train up for a charity event in which they’ll have to walk 100 kilometres in 24 hours.

Sharlene — better known around town, and the country, as the baby whisperer — is usually preoccupied with issues like getting new parents and their babies a good night’s sleep. But for the Oxfam Trailwalker it’s the staying awake all night that she expects to really test the mettle of the Raglan quartet.

“It’s a massive challenge,” Sharlene admits of the upcoming endurance walk, which skirts the shores of Lake Taupo.

The entry of a Raglan team in what’s described as “the world’s greatest team challenge” came about after Sharlene and friend Rachel Bailey of Tonic Hairdressing biked around the mountain, completing last year’s Karioi Classic.

The pair then looked about for another challenge they could take on — one not just for themselves this time, Sharlene told the Chronicle, but also for a worthwhile cause.

It was the Oxfam Trailwalker that captured Sharlene’s imagination as she searched online. In New Zealand, Oxfam works as part of the global network by raising money for families fighting poverty in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“We all love visiting these islands but many of them need help financially to improve or create better daily resources in education and sanitation,” says Sharlene.

So she and Rachel, along with local yoga teacher Ani Brunet and Te Mata School deputy principal Trina Regnier, joined forces and have started training with a vengeance.

One night at 6.30 they set out walking from town to Te Toto Gorge and didn’t get back till midnight. It’s quite a challenge and “a bit scary” walking in the dark with only a head torch to show the way, reckons Sharlene, but in a team of four it’s okay.

The Trailwalker event encourages walkers, in their teams of four, to cross the finish line together and to do it within 36 hours. Each team must also commit to raising at least $2000 to support Oxfam NZ’s work.

Raglan Wahine, as the local team’s called, have set the bar higher than that and hope to collect $2500 through a few fundraising gimmicks. “Each of us is giving away something that comes naturally,” explains Sharlene of her own baby-whispering sessions, Rachel’s haircuts and Ani’s yoga lessons.

Now the team are psyching up for an overnight walk around Karioi, and at the end of this month they’re tackling the Tongariro Crossing with Rachel’s and Ani’s husbands, who will be their support crew in a hired campervan for the big April Trailwalker.

The four are trying to include different terrains in their training because, adds Sharlene, “we’ll be walking around the backblocks and hills (farmlands) of Taupo”. The course starts at Kinloch, heads towards Taupo and then beyond that to near Huka Falls.

“It’s going to be very tough,” Sharlene says. “Rachel and Trina just did a training weekend in Auckland, 50 kilometres over two days, and came back exhausted!”

Oxfam Trailwalker NZ has been running since 2006 and more than 1000 people take part each year.

Support Raglan Wahine by donating online: Or donate quality women’s clothing and accessories to Tonic Hairdressing or Te Mata School for a planned fundraising evening.

Edith Symes

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