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When the going gets tough, the Positive Nanny Goats get going

Sometimes it’s impossible to anticipate just how hard something will be.

That’s what Raglan’s Positive Nanny Goats discovered after competing in the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker Team Challenge in Whakatane at the end of last month. 

It’s taken the four Raglan mothers a couple of weeks to settle back into the rhythm of life, to be able to laugh about their experience and share their story that includes extreme exhaustion, hallucinations, not remembering parts of the walk, painful blisters and a trip to hospital for one.

Keri Oetzel, Emma Galloway, Jasmin Radford and Kelly Woolston raised $4169.13 for the charity with their marathon effort into which they themselves invested six months of physical training and a whole lot of mental anticipation.

“None of us know how to put it into words,” says Emma of the experience.

The cookbook author and food blogger doesn’t remember much at all of the last 10km of the walk and was shipped off to Whakatane Hospital with a stomach bleed after crossing the finish line.

“I felt like I had been hit by a train. I struggled up the stairs 6km into the walk … I didn’t know what was going on.”

It just felt like: “I am dying, I am dying!”

Emma reckons if she hadn’t had something going on with her tummy she would have coped a lot better – after all she spent two hours strapping up her bony feet and only emerged with one little blister!

Not so for Jasmin. Her blisters were a torment.

“There were some really tough times. My body was under extreme stress, in pain and shock,” says the massage therapist.

“Having no sleep was hard mentally. It felt like it was never ending. Nighttime was long and hard. I had a couple of hallucinations. I just wanted to collapse to the ground, my feet and legs were throbbing with pain.”

Exhaustion was a big one for all of the women, who didn’t get much sleep the night before the event that took them 29 hours and 29 minutes and nine seconds to complete, and then it was straight back into early morning mum duties as well as work after the hard weekend.

“I had the good deal, I was in hospital and I just slept,” laughs Emma.

“It’s an extreme event, not just a walk,” says Keri, who competed in Trailwalker for the second time and, as a trained psychologist, helped keep spirits buoyed the whole way.

In a video of the four crossing the finish line she can be heard encouraging her troops on:  “Positive Nanny Goats, we are still positive, just keep moving! Keep breathing, girl, keep breathing, we are going to get you to a chair, we are the positive nanny goats!”

“She is like superhuman,” says Emma of Keri. “She looked normal walking over the finish line.”

“I think having the experience of doing it before was quite beneficial,” Keri modestly offers.

“She was already talking about the third one on the way over,” exclaims Emma. “Are you still talking about the third one? I will cook your food!”

But it wasn’t all bad experiences – there were plenty of laughs for the quartet, and not just at stages of delirium.

The Whakatane community was just awesome, the Positive Nanny Goats say, and they had loads of support coming in on their Facebook page from friends and family back home.

Along the way there were kids offering lollies, kids offering to hose contestants down in the heat, people holding up signs in encouragement and cars honking their horns.

And the best thing, reckons Jasmin, is “we kept going”.

The women placed 58th with four finishers out of 141 teams. Thirty-five teams did not finish with all four members.

“We stayed positive the whole way,” says Jasmin. “We have learnt so much about ourselves and our personal strength and have created a strong sisterly bond that will last a lifetime.”

“Our support crew was amazing,” says Keri. At every one of the six checkpoints, Ange Sowerby, Kristi Daniel and Malene Felsing set up chairs and tables, had food ready and offered encouragement and an assortment of pampering products, many sponsored by Raglan businesses.

“We could ring them with our needs – we need electrolytes!”

“It’s really nice to know you are being cared for,” says Kelly. “You don’t know what is going to happen along the way.”

That’s the one thing you can always be sure of!

Inger Vos