All-terrain Nanny Goats gear up for epic 100km challenge

It’s the kind of beautiful sunny morning in Raglan that makes you feel blessed to live here, to be alive.

Three of the four Positive Nanny Goats are clambering up and up, over tree roots and around fallen trees, incorporating the Karioi loop track as part of their training ground for an epic 100km walk to raise money for those who are not as lucky as them. 

The fourth nanny goat is in Fiji but, in between panting and catching of breath, the others – Jasmin Radford, Emma Galloway and Kelly Woolston – are “positive” that she will be training hard out, too. After all, Keri Oetzel, who could probably run the 100km no sweat, they reckon, roped them all into the Oxfam Trailwalker team challenge in the first place. 

A trained psychologist, Keri’s the one who is mad enough to want to do Trailwalker twice. For the others, it is a once in a lifetime experience.

The Positive Nanny Goats are all mums from Raglan; their name comes courtesy of Jasmin’s partner, Aaron Kereopa, who called them all “nanny goats” in jest, as he’s wont to do.

But it was a pretty solid name, they decided, because goats climb mountains and traverse any terrain, and nanny goats are good mothers – so it stuck.

For the past two months, the good mothers have got together every Friday morning, after the kids have been bundled off to school, to stomp around our countryside, bush and beaches.

“I think this is our hardest walk yet,” pants Emma. She’s not feeling 100 per cent after a hot, sunny day spent at a school athletics meet, without any water.

“I might need to have a big steak before the race,” jokes the food blogger who has been a vegetarian all her life and has never tasted meat.

Kelly has charged on ahead and admits a hard part of the walk might be sticking together as a team. She likes going up hills, fast – but she’s rubbish at the downhill, she reckons, as everyone catches up. 

The Oxfam Trailwalker is in Whakatane, March 25-26. It’s an all terrain hike, including along Ohope Beach. 

Teams of four are given 36 hours to complete the challenge, and must walk and finish together. 

Every team is asked to raise at least $2500 towards Oxfam’s work in reducing poverty and demanding justice for the world’s poorest communities.

The work by Oxfam is close to the Nanny Goat’s hearts, and they reckon they’re super-excited to be supporting the charity, if not with a little trepidation.

Keri, who later corresponds by email, says she completed the challenge in 2014 and it was one of the best experiences of her life – although her feet were wrecked for weeks after the event.

“It was a time for four friends, all working mums, to carve out time for ourselves. We walked weekly and had hours of opportunities to talk uninterrupted about real-life while getting in some exercise. The four of us developed great friendships, and have even gone on to do other extreme sport together.”

Meanwhile, the conversation around the loop track, then down towards Whale Bay, the Indicators, back up to Whaanga Rd and Karioi Lodge’s Inspiration Point, includes tales of dodgy Thai massages; a hilarious and unrepeatable story about a hammerhead shark diving proposal; the merits of expensive active wear; the demise of sexy lingerie in their wardrobes; and a recall of all the party houses in Whale Bay, pre-children. 

Keri says bonding is a big part of the challenge, and one of the reasons why she wants to do it again. 

Also: “Oxfam is doing great work around the world, especially here in the South Pacific/Australasia. Finding ways to contribute to significant issues of health and wellbeing is very important to me. And, despite the wrecked feet post-100km, it is a super fun opportunity. I get to develop friendships, new and old, and get some steps in for my own health. It’s a win-win!”

But for the other three Nanny Goats, the Trailwalker challenge is a giant step into the unknown. 

Emma says she expects Trailwalker will be a real mental challenge, kicking in at about the 50km mark. 

The challenge requires competitors to walk through the night, come rain, hail or storm.

Footwear is a big topic of discussion: what to buy, what to wear. Perhaps some Crocs, too, as many competitors are unable to finish the race in shoes because their feet are so broken. 

The three anticipate losing toenails, graunching of hips and knackering their knees, and aim to strengthen their stamina with some longer walks, such as the 50km road loop around Mt Karioi.

Are they mad, also?

Yes, some might well say so. But they have their own personal shrink along for the ride, and as Keri says: “I think many of us look at something extreme like a 100km walk and throw the idea aside, figuring that we can’t ever accomplish it. I think anything is possible, especially when you have a group of people surrounding you, supporting you. We have a really phenomenal team of women this year – fun, energetic, sharing similar goals for contributing toward big-picture changes, and wanting to find ways to make time for self-care – and have several equally amazing people who have offered to be our support crew. Knowing that we are in this challenge together makes anything possible!”

Inger Vos