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John Durrant recaps Altitude Advisory’s efforts in the Operation Flinders Challenge.
When a colleague asks you if you’d like to walk a mere 15km to raise funds for Operation Flinders you naturally say yes.
Then once you’ve signed up they start introducing words like ‘elevation’ and ‘challenging’. I began to realise this wasn’t a 15km wander through a flat park.
For those who don’t know (like I didn’t), the Operation Flinders Challenge is a walk or run through the stunning Adelaide Hills and Mt Lofty Ranges.
You can choose to take on the easy (relatively speaking) 15km trail, or go for the 31km, 57km or 85km challenges. My colleagues had entered us into the 15km challenge, mercifully.
Within minutes of us leaving the Morialta Conservation Park we were on to a steady climb into the hills. This definitely was not a gentle meander through a park.
As I watched my team mates disappear over the hill at an alarmingly quick pace, I began to regret the total lack of preparation I’d put in, the fact that I’d put on some 20kg over the last three years and that I had only bought my sneakers the evening before the challenge.
Let me reiterate… This was not a gentle meander through the park.
Eventually, as my calf muscles adapted to the pain and my lungs began to cope with my violent quest for gulps of air, I actually began to increase my pace. I could actually see my team again!
This body of mine is not a machine for ascents in its current configuration. But, boy, it can power on when it gets a stretch of flat stuff. Or at least, that’s what I was telling myself as I took way too much pride in overtaking a man in his 70s.
A benefit of this challenge was getting to see some spellbinding scenery. From vast vertigo-inducing gorges to beautiful tree-lined vistas looking over the region, it’s a truly magical place. We also got to see three koalas and two kangaroos.
Our team didn’t do too badly either, finishing joint 8th on the day. The best bit though? Knowing that we had raised more than $1,000 for an incredibly worthwhile cause.
The Operation Flinders Foundation runs an eight-day program for young people at risk in the northern Flinders Ranges. The foundation places participants in a remote outdoor environment where self-discipline, teamwork, co-operation, leadership and trust are intrinsic to survival.
Gloria Rowett, Marion Holiday Park
Luke Talbot-Male, Adventures Beyond