Tuesday 17 July 2007

Final Report

Well boys and girls, we did it! Not only did we manage the hike itself (and almost two months down the line I think everyone's knees have recovered), but we also managed to raise £2006 between our two teams (including the money donated by the participants themselves, a portion of which went towards covering the running costs).

Thank you everyone for making this happen.

I have just finished our team report (pdf format), which includes a list of sponsors - you can download it by clicking on the image below.

A final big THANK YOU to all involved. It really was an incredible experience, and the money raised will have a big impact upon the lives of those in some of the world's poorest communities.

Monday 4 June 2007

The Trailwalkers hit the headlines!

Thanks to Nigel and the person who kindly sent him the photo.

The Trailwalkers in the Sheffield press!

Read the online version here


I see we have also made The Steel Press!

Thursday 31 May 2007

A Year in Japan Podcast - Trailwalker Special Out Now!

Episode 10 of A Year in Japan, the podcast from Joseph Tame, is a Trailwalker Special!

Listen to the dramatic story of The Blisters and The Longlegs on youp iPod / Mp3 player / PC!

(The Trailwalker section starts about 12 minutes in to the 45 minute episode.)

Visit www.ayearinjapan.com to download this audio drama fest!

Wednesday 23 May 2007

100km in 31 hours: the madness of The Trailwalkers

The scene: In a bar, central Tokyo, Japan. January 2007.
Joseph: Sponsored walk anyone? In aid of charity, should be a laugh!

Friend A: Ooh, that sounds interesting. I could do with a bit of exercise.

Friend B: Yes, does sound rather spiffing! I could bring along a picnic hamper, and the Pimms!

Joseph: Jolly good. I'll put you down for it...
How the scene should have been played out:

Joseph: Sponsored walk anyone? In aid of charity. It sounds pretty hardcore!

Friend A: That's not the Oxfam Trailwalker is it? I've heard of that.

Friend B: Oh yeah, didn't it start in Hong Kong in 1981 as a military training exercise organised by the Queen's Gurkha Signals?

Friend A: Yeah, that's it. My friend from Hong Kong was over in Japan last week, and they said that the Japan course is much harder than the one back home.

Friend C: You'd have to be mad to take part in that. Its not just a sponsored walk. It's a matter of survival. A friend sent me a link to their homepage last week. Have you seen how many mountains you have to climb? And all in 48 hours? No way.

Joseph: So, shall I put you down for it then?
That was the most difficult physical challenge I have ever faced in my entire life. It was also a very emotional experience, which at one point saw me crying on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, waiting for 2 hours, praying for a miracle.

Just thinking about the event as I write this brings tears to my eyes. What a team. They were absolutely incredible, and I am so proud of them.

It all started at 4.45am on Friday, when *Twinkle*'s dad rang our doorbell. It was a long drive to the start of the course.

One might not think of driving through central Tokyo as being anything special, but believe me, it is when you're on the motorways which criss-cross the very heart of the city, raised 5 or six storeys up above the grind of the streets below. This is a different world. It's like flying. Flying through an only-too-familiar landscape, but seeing it from an entirely different perspective. The train takes half an hour to get from the north to the south. You always see the same things, and rarely find yourself more than 6 metres from ground level. Here we were, cruising along on top of roads that at some points were stacked 4 high, playing "Where are we Now?".

"Look! There's the DOCOMO Biru! We must be in Shinjuku"
and then just minutes later
"Wow! Check out the Mori Tower! So THIS is what the view is like from on top of that road that runs right over Roppongi!"

I tell you, life looks much sweeter up there. You can see the blue sky for one thing.

Getting to the start point was not without incident. As planned, our team was split into three for various reasons: two of us in the car with our support team, two of us taking the bullet train, two of us on the Odakyu Romance Car (a pretend bullet train). Human error when programming the SatNav meant that the car took us to a place with a very similar name to the one we were heading for. U-Turn, 30 minute traffic jam. Being team leader, I felt responsible for everyone, and thus I was pretty stressed out by the though of not making it on time! I couldn't bear to watch the scenery not pass by, and so covered my head with a jumper, and put my latest positive-thinking audio book on.

Finally, we arrived at the start point. Nigel's reaction was typical of all of us:
The first thing that I thought when we arrived at the sports track was that we would never be able to do it. We were surrounded by people whose muscles rippled with every step; they also had all the right walking gear: boots, bags, thermals, sticks, etc, and there we were strolling round in shorts and T-shirts shooting the breeze. When the event kicked off this feeling was accentuated by the fact that some teams started running round the track in order to get a head start!

Yes, some of the 160 teams of 4 were actually running! Feeling confident that we'd see their exhausted bodies by the side of the track later on, and repeating to each other the story of the Hare and the Tortoise, we set out at a steady pace (we were later to be proved right, as only 85% of teams made it to the finish line).

The starting trumpet!

We had two teams of 4 entered for the event, although upon our arrival at the start point we were all saddened to get a message from one of our team mates, Tom, telling us that he was feeling absolutely dreadful, and in no fit state for walking. Takashi, another member of our second team, had previously decided not to attempt the walk itself, but rather to be our support team. Although it was a real shame that he wouldn't be walking with us, his decision turned out to be an absolute godsend - without him we would have been absolutely stuffed!

The 100km course, which crossed 7 mountains and involved ascents totaling over 3500 metres, started out fairly easily. With over 600 walkers talking part, it was hardly surprising that for first two sections we found ourselves either in a long line, or in bunches of teams. That was especially useful when it came to section two - a relentless uphill slog which in itself had exhausted myself and Takashi some 6 weeks beforehand when on a training hike - now we found it not all that difficult at all, just follow the shoes in front.

Single file please!

Typical Nigel!

On we plodded, past the now only too familiar rocks with their ancient carvings, the sulphuric late, the forest with the steps that finished my right knee off back in March. This time my right knee was in tip-top condition. The training was paying off, as was the purchase of a walking stick. In addition to that, I was wearing three knee supports (all on the same knee!), making it rock solid. Great stuff. I smiled when I thought of the last time I'd visited that spot, and been in a great deal of pain.

Reaching Hakone Yumoto we proceeded through the ancient checkpoint from the Edo era, and the not so ancient checkpoint from the Oxfam Trailwalker 2007 era. For some reason, NHK TV's DoumoKun was having a go at playing samurai that afternoon. We didn't find him to be too talkative though, and so continued on our hike towards CheckPoint 4, Ashinoko camping Village, which lay at the other end of the incredibly long lake with its boats that had escaped from DisneySea.

That involved a vicious 350m climb, with some harsh steps made for giants. Anyone would think the Japanese were giants judging by their public footpaths... I'd say it was around that time, after about 9 hours of non-stop walking, that we began to feel pretty tired. Despite this hardly being surprising, it was a little worrying, as we were only 39km into the course!

Our support team, at that point in the form of *Twinkle* and her dad, were absolutely fantastic, especially Takashi, who'd been on the road since 4am, meeting us at every checkpoint and providing us with food, drink and vital moral support. Check point 4 was to be our last meeting that day: they'd then head off to pick up Misako, the third member of our support team who'd come all the way from Hiroshima by bullet train to be with us, and retire to their ryokan in order to be up bright and early for us in the morning.

Supporters on the route

Check Point 4 marked a real turning point, as it was here, whilst we stocked up on dried fruit and sports drinks, that the sun set and night truly set in. It also marked the beginning of a section that was to smash all our preconceptions of this being any old sponsored walk. We were in for a real shocker, this was to be something else entirely.

It was just after 7pm when we said goodbye to our support team for the night and set out for checkpoint 5. The route we were now faced with was not all that inviting, involving as it did a climb of over 500m up one of the most difficult footpaths of the entire course, to the peak of Mt. Kintoki. This would then be followed by a steep descent down to Checkpoint 5, some 12km away.

With headlamps flickering, we entered the forest. The footpath was not really designed for night-climbing, being as it was more an endless series of hazardous rocks and roots to be scrambled over than a well-established path. It wasn't long before we caught up with the team in front of us - we were glad of the company, and grateful that we could leave the task of navigation to someone else - all we had to do was follow their boots!

A little way up the mountain we all paused for a drink. We talked a little, whereabouts in the UK are you from and all that... and it was then that I overheard one of the other team speak to another member by name. A name I recognised.

Whilst working in the Oxfam office in March, I spent a good deal of time entering team details into the database. There was one team in particular that caught my eye - The Wandering Bureaucrats, 4 folks from the British Embassy in Tokyo. As some Mumblers may know, it has long been one of my ambitions to work at the British Embassy - indeed I actually applied for a post there a few years ago (and not surprisingly, was turned down!). As I entered the team details, I thought how nice it would be to meet these folks during the Trailwalk event. I also realised that it was highly improbable, what with their being over 700 participants and no was other than numbers to identify them.

Thus, when I heard that name I really smiled. Of all the teams we could find ourselves paired with by fortune for this harsh ascent, none could be better than The Wandering Bureaucrats. After all, isn't it their job to ensure the wellbeing of all British Citizens in Japan?! I had to wonder, could this be a result of self manifestation?

As the hike continued, so it grew increasingly difficult with the mist closing in and reflecting back our torchlight, blinding us to the rocks and roots below. In a way this was a blessing. With very low visibility we had no way of knowing just how much of a climb lay in front of us. So taken up with just the next step, there was no time to consider how far we still had to go.

A fantastically clear shot showing just what it was like mountain climbing by night

Reaching the peak of Mt. Kintoki was a surreal experience. The path suddenly ended, and there we were, on the top of the mountain. Buffeted by the strong wind, I felt elated... and then somewhat confused by the appearance of a tea house.

This was totally unexpected. Oxfam had arranged for this little hut to be made available to Trailwalkers throughout the night, with green tea served by a litle old lady for every team that paused to rest inside its cosy walls. Heaven knows how she got up there - there was no sign of any access for vehicles. It was there that, as we set out again to navigate the steep descent, I thanked the Rambling Bureaucrats for their guidance - and conversation about the Best British Biscuits which had served to take our minds off the trek on the way up.

It was a difficult stumble down the mountain. The mist made the stones slippy, the darkness making it hard to pick out obstacles ahead. Keen to make it down as soon as possible we make good time, although, as it was to emerge an hour or two later, this was to come at some cost.

I felt ecstatic when CP5 came into view, and I couldn't help but yell for joy. I was especially happy as my mentor at the Oxfam Office was manning this checkpoint. It was so good to see him, "Look, we're actually doing it! All that hard work of ours, the months of preparation, it's paying off!!"

My happiness was only dampened by the pain that had started to arise in my left knee - my GOOD knee! That final descent had been hard on the joints, and in a bid to protect my 'bad' knee, I'd used my walking stick on the right, putting even more pressure on the left. Well, the next section was a 10km stroll down a quiet asphalt road. I reckoned if I took it slow, I should be ok. Out with the freeze-spray, the cold pads and painkillers, the bandages. I trussed myself up as best I could, and then on we went.

Bandaging my knee

The next 6km or so were OK. It was nice to have a flat surface along which to drag one's feet, and a path wide enough to walk side by side and natter. Everything seemed to be going alright.

It was at 1.30am, after 16.5 hours and 60km of almost non-stop walking, that my knee suddenly gave way. It was quite extraordinary. The road took a slight dip, and I don't know how, but that slight change in incline led to me suddenly lurching to the left as my knee refused to take my weight. I assured Taro and Osamu that I was alright, and took another step - at which point I nearly fell over! It was no good. I'd have to rest.

I sat on the curb in disbelief. This couldn't be happening. After coping with all those horrendous paths, how could my knee possibly complain at this wee little asphalt slope? I got up again, and hobbled another 50 metres, but clearly, it wasn't going to work. My team mate, Vicky, asked me if I'd like to take a painkiller. This was no ordinary painkiller however - this was one of those giving to post-op patients in hospitals, and was so strong that it often caused severe sickness. I remember saying to her that I didn't care what the side effects were, I'd take anything to get rid of the pain!

A few minutes later, I realised that I had to face the truth of the situation. There was no way I was going to complete the course in this state. Also, with me holding them back, there was no way any of my team mates would either. It was a really tough decision to make, but in the end I realised that I just had to make that call.

Having dialed the number for the Oxfam Control Centre, I recognised the voice on the other end of the phone immediately, it was one of the staff I worked opposite in the office. She was very surprised to hear from me, and sounded pretty disappointed when I said I'd have to retire, and needed a rescue car. One things for sure though, she wasn't half as disappointed as I was! I handed over the electronic wristband that we used to clock in at every CP to Vicky, assured them I'd be OK waiting by myself for a car, apologised for abandoning them and wishing them good luck for the remainder of the course.

Then began the wait. I perched myself on the tall bank next to the road, and mulled over what had happened. I felt so upset that all these months of preparation had led to this, and couldn't help but shed some tears.

After 15 minutes or so of sitting in silence, I felt the pain killer kicking in. Not in terms of pain-killing, but more in terms of establishing its presence in my stomach. It was a good job I was sitting on the tall bank, as when I was violently sick it all went into the gully below, leaving me feeling clean, and empty.

It turned out to be a long wait. The rescue vehicles were in demand, but I was told one would show up eventually. Until then, I had plenty of time to reflect. I thought about what a truly amazing thing Oxfam had organised. About our team spirit which had never flagged, about the generosity of our donors that enabled us to raise so much money, about the beautiful Japanese countryside that I'd had the pleasure of traversing that day, about our incredible support team, and about the pure happiness that I had felt many times over the previous 17 hours.

This was what life was all about.

I just couldn't quite accept that it was ending like this. But I couldn't see any other way.

My two hour wait was punctuated by a few other teams passing by. It was wonderful to make instantaneous, if brief, friendships based on our shared experience. One team in particular - team No. 1, from Hong Kong, was particularly generous. The problem was, at about 2am my phone battery died, thus I lost contact with the Oxfam Control Centre who had told me they'd call me to let me know when they cold get a car out to me. I asked this passing team if I could make a phone call. They willing lent me their mobile, and then proceeded to unpack and provide me with hot tea to warm me up!

It was about 3.30am when the rescue vehicle turned up. I was so happy to see the driver - another friend from the office. I was taken the couple of kilometers down the road to the next checkpoint, where I treated my knee as best I could and waited for morning to come and the support team to wake up.

By 7am, I got word that the team had made it to CP7, and were now going to take a short rest to recuperate from what had been an incredibly tough 16km slog through the early hours. Shortly after that I was picked up by our Support crew; we then continued to join the others at CP7.

Seeing them there really upset me. I felt I'd deserted them - after all, I'd been the one that had got them involved in it in the first place! Talking to Jon about how much I'd wanted to complete the course saw the tears well up again ...there had to be a way.

Checkpoint 7 was some kind of civil hall, and in addition to a sleeping place, there was a "stretch area", where professional sports physios provided their services to any walker that needed them.

Still in considerable pain, I didn't think they'd be able to do much for me, but hey, if there was a slight chance anything could be done that might get me back on the path, I'd be willing to do it. And this was how I met my hero.

Lying down on the mat, I explained to the physio what had happened. Hearing this, he stopped stretching me, and asked me to wait a minute. Off he went, and came back moments later with a young looking chap who turned out to be the head physio. He asked me a couple of questions, prodded me a bit, and then proceeded to tell his colleague the plan of action.

With a back of iced water strapped to my knee, he proceeded to stretch in some mightily odd ways that I never knew I could be stretched in. Whilst he was doing this, I asked him what my problem was, and whether he thought I could continue.

He was incredibly positive, and whilst he didn't specifically recommend I continue, he clearly saw that I was desperate to start walking again, and so instructed me on how I could walk in order to avoid the pain. He then taped my leg up - all the way from my toe to above my knee, in such manner that my leg was turned inwards. It was all a bit bizarre, but I guessed that with 10 years experience he knew what he was doing.

He really was my miracle. It was not long after that that we set out, a full team once again, to tackle the final 23km. The elevation map was not all that promising, showing a 13km climb of 800 metres, followed by a brief descent and then another two peaks to conquer.

The initial section was ok, being as it was along a little asphalt road, but once we entered the forest things got a little sticky. I looked like such a grandad, limping along at an incredibly slow pace with my walking stick! I really had to laugh at myself. Only 29 and in that state!

Here, it was decided that as technically the 6 of us were two teams (and I was no longer officially participating), that one of the teams should go on ahead at a speed that suited them, whilst myself and Taro and Osamu would continue at a more leisurely pace.

Taking it easy: a rest point at the top of one peak provided us with welcome relief!

Following the Oxfam ribbons

Old man Joseph and his trusty walking stick
Steps of death - they were so slippy following the morning's thunderstorm

I don't know what happened, but there reached a point when the pain just seemed to disappear. The three of us were absolutely exhausted, but felt exhilarated too - the finish now seemed in sight, being as it was only a few hours off. The weather also cleared, following an incredible thunderstorm a few hours earlier that thankfully too place when we were all at a checkpoint! The view from that ridge was just beautiful, and I wished that all my friends who think that japan is nothing but skyscrapers and concrete could be there to enjoy it with us.

This is Japan

Joseph meets Mount Fuji

Osamu and Taro at the final peak

Descending from the final peak

Emerging from the final forest we were greeted by an awesome sight - Mount Fuji, and at its foot the vast Lake Yamanaka. We were nearly there! Up to the final peak, and then a dash down to the finish. I was so excited - I'd actually made it! I limped as fast as possible, looking a bit like one of those olympic walkers trying not to run! Takashi, our amazing support team driver, had walked from the finish back down the course to meet us - I was so so happy to see him! And then finally, through the woods, and across the finish line!

It was a very emotional moment, with our first team waiting there for us, along with a big crowd, all cheering and applauding. A remarkable sense of achievement.

A knackered, but happy team at the finish line

Our first team, "The Blisters" (Nigel, Vicky and Jon) managed to complete the course in an amazing 30 hours and 55 minutes, coming in at 39th out of 160 teams. An incredible achievement considering how many 'professional' teams had taken part, and what amateurs we were. I arrived about an hour later, with Osamu and Taro - "The Longlegs" crossing the line at position 44, after 32 hours and 5 minutes.

Taking part in Oxfam Japan Trailwalker 2007 was one of those few-in-a-lifetime experiences that will stay with me forever. It was one of those incredible adventures where you push yourself way beyond the bounds of your 'normal' world, into a place where every moment is a demanding physical, emotional challenge.

Coming home, you feel somewhat forlorn, lost without your team-mates with whom you shared this experience. In our case, we are fortunate: four members of the team had their partners with them, either as a fellow walker or as a member of our support team. Thus, we don't feel that pain that comes when you have returned from a far-off place to somewhere where people just don't understand.

I'd like to sincerely thank Nigel, Vicky, Jon, Taro and Osamu, Takashi, *Twinkle* and
Misako for taking me up on my invitation to participate in this mad challenge. I am very, very grateful.

I'd also like to thank all the Oxfam Japan staff & volunteers who have put literally thousands of hours work into making this happen.

Last, but by no means least I'd like to thank you, our sponsors, for helping us raise in excess of £2000 for charity. The response was staggering, and I'm truly grateful.

Of course the question now is, will we be doing it again?!!

Watch this space...


Tuesday 22 May 2007

Trailwalker: Nigel's impressions

"The first thing that I thought when we arrived at the walk was that we would never be able to do it. We were surrounded by people who rippled with every step and had all the right walking gear, boots, bags, thermals, sticks, etc,and there we were strolling round in shorts and T shirts shooting the breeze. When the event kicked off this was accentuated by the fact people started running round the track! I thought we'd be lucky to walk it let alone run it, but still we plodded on, got into a rythmn and set on our way. By the time we hit checkpoint 2 (18km) it was clear we were feeling good and in high spirits. I was surprised by how well the team had bonded and how jovial we all were, though we had only covered a fifth of the course and possibly the easiest part at that, we were all in high spirits.

By checkpoint 4 (39km) it was starting to get dark, and the trail was begining to sort the men from the boys. Many were stopping to camp for the night, have bbq's, and rest, our team in all its wisdom had decided to walk through the night and get to CP7 (77km) before resting. Our support crew, who we were so grateful for got us fed and watered for the next leg, and after a brief 30m rest we set off, headlamps secured into the cold foggy night. This has to be the most memorable part of the whole walk, as well as the hardest. As we started the ascent up not one, but 3 mountains combined, we attached ourselves to another team beginning the 1200m ascent. However, spurred on by such great conversations as "Whats your top 3 biscuits?" "Top 3 Crisps?" "Top 5 Films/Books?" we followed the bearable visible feet up the slippery muddy slope. I found it amusing that we had all put fleeces and thick jackets on for the ascent as it was getting so cold, yet 500m in we were all back into T-shirts, yet reaching the summit, in fog so thick we couldn't see more than 10ft and being buffeted by icy winds we were soon reaching for the woolies again. I certainly wasn't expecting the descent to be as tough as it was, being dangerously wet, every step had us calling "are you ok?" as we heard the sounds of or team mates slipping, it was so steep in places climbing gear would have been more appropriate, and the pain in our knees from the continual descent was agony.

By checkpoint 5 we were all exhausted, Joseph's knee was strapped up tighter than a gnats chuff, my clothes were sodden from sweat so I couldn't get warm, and the rest were trying to shelter from the howling wind. Again after a brief rest we plodded on, to what was to prove on of the hardest stages. We had all looked forward to CP5-6 as it was only 10k and all downhill, but doing it at midnight, the monotony of following a road on and on was possibly the most tiring thing we had encountered. I personally preferred wandering aimlessly through the woods. It was also the most disheartening as Joseph's knee gave out during this stretch, and we were forced to Oxfam for a collection. However, we had to push on before the other team members legs started stiffening from the cold and exhaustion, so down to 5 we continued to CP6. Again, 15 minutes after arrival we pushed on.

About 2 hours after CP6 I think the team must have hated me. I reckoned we should head to CP7 (16km) so we could get to the stretching service and to the decent sleeping area. however, this was the longest section of the course and boy did we feel it, 16km felt like 60km. We saw no other teams throughout this section and we were constantly worried about missing the route. In addition we were exhausted, aching and hardly able to speak, so spirits seemed to be flagging. Also, injury was beginning to hound myself and other team members. The continual descents were lethal on the knee joints and every step was sending pain throughout our legs so we were hobbling more than walking. At 7am we limped and hobbled our way to CP7 for a nice stretch and a brief rest.

I was thanking the gods when we stopped at CP7 as the moment we entered it poured down. Thunder and lighting lit up the mountains we had just walked and the rain proceeded to make our next stretch all the more treacherous. Yet the support crew were life savers here, we slept for about an hour, and they saw to us, getting us fed, watered and motivated before sending us off to slaughter. Joseph had his knee strapped by a physio and was rejoining for the last two stages. What had us in high spirits was that a team who hadn't practiced as much as they should've, let alone done a TW before, was 41/150 at CP7. How could it be possible that this rag tag team could be beating all these well kitted out well prepared people?

Penultimate stage was tough, with some mad ascents which had us pulling ourselves up with the rope at the side of the steps rather than climbing, but we had nearly done it, and Vicky's cry of "I can see Checkpoint 8!" had us running on our knackered knees to an oh so depsperatley needed rest stop. 8km to go, and we were dreading the last climb. The two tallest mountains of the whole course right at the end. Thanks Oxfam. Hong Kong get a nice straight stretch, we get 2 huge mountains and a descent to kill the knees completely. The first mountain was so anitclimatic. It was a tough climb, but then we hit the top and were surprised we had reached it so soon, and then there was nothing to see apart from trees. So we cracked on, charging ahead of another team trying to wag a place from them (it was a contest after all) but then they ran past us 2 minutes later! They RAN! how the hell they managed that I have no idea.

As we began the final ascent, Vicky and myself had knee damage, Jon had ankle problems. Me and Jon watched in awe as Vicky belted up the final hill, so focused were we on the trail ahead and watching our step that it wasn't until the trail turned 90degrees that we saw the most impressive view of the whole course. Mt Fuji. It was breathtaking to say the least, and so surprising as it seemed to appear out of nowhere. How the hell does a 3500+m mountain hide? It made an excellent motivater though, as the end was near Fuji so we began to half jog, half hobble our way to it, 1.5 hours later we were done. I think the hardest thing the team had to endure was my awful sense of humour for close to 31h.

Still find it hard to believe we beat so many teams, and we heard several had dropped out too. Maybe our training routine of running up the stairs to catch the train, a few games of tennis, and the odd 25-35k stroll did the trick. Next time I think a training session of a week long binge drinking session, on a diet of kebabs and chips will see us completing it in a time of around 20 hours."

Sunday 20 May 2007

Saturday 12 May 2007

6 days to go...

Only 6 days until we set out on our great trek, and we're all getting a bit nervous! I just learnt yesterday that this event was first held in Hong Kong as a training exercise for the army... eek.

We've had a few team members suffer temporary injuries during training, but everything seems to be on track now. I bought my walking stick this afternoon to help with those knee-killing descents, and am getting in a good stock of Amino acid supplements and protein powder. Oh, and plasters for all those blisters too!

We've decided that we won't be stopping anywhere overnight as this will probably cause our joints to seize up, so if all goes according to plan we should complete the course in about 26 hours. Mind you, that's based on a steady 5kmph, which may be a bit optimistic, but we like optimism!

Takashi has very kindly offered to be our support team, along with *Twinkle*. Figuring out the logistics has been a bit tricky. The thing is, the course is about an hour away from Tokyo, thus it's not worth the support team returning home for the night.

It's all very exciting though! Have to say nice things to my legs everyday and persuade them that they are more than capable of completing the course.

Donation-wise we're doing really well, having raised over £1800! Not far to go before we reach our target now. Thank you everyone who has supported us so far. If you'd like to help, it's really easy to do so. Just visit http://www.tamegoeswild.com/trailwalker/donate.htm and you'll find the various options listed there.