Kokoda Challenge in PNG

Race Report from the Kokoda Trek

by Lorraine Lawson

I wrote this race report after my first ultra back in 2007.

Steep up, steep down, mud and tree roots were the obvious obstacles. But this relentless trail-running event had many surprises.

It took me 18 hours to get to the halfway checkpoint (Efogi1). Too tired to continue, my ‘bodyguard’ Winnie and I slept on the side of the track for an hour just as it was getting light on the second day. It would take another 26½ hours to the finish! INSANE. I wriggle my way out of this shocking result by making excuses such as: ‘I wish I knew the way’, ‘My feet were killing me.’, ‘I slept for 5 hours’, ‘I was dehydrated’, ‘It was muddy’, ‘I spent too long at some of the checkpoints’ (right, like the 7 hours at Eora Creek? You ask!) If I could, I would blame altitude too. But the highest point, Mt Bellamy, is only 2190m above sea level. But I live on the coast!

People try to console me by saying “But you did it”. Yes, I did.

Porters and guides from Kokoda Trekking manned the seven checkpoints. After Efogi1 we didn't get any support for about 16 hours as the guys (except for those at the Eora Creek checkpoint) had all packed up and gone home! I was sharing my Poweraide bars, peanuts, raisins and jelly beans and even some sports drink powder with Winnie.

I started seeing people, rather than just inane objects, in my hallucinations, by the time I stopped at Eora Creek at 5pm on Sunday (33 hours into the race and a mere 12-hour walk to the finish). Time for a rest and some good tucker.

Set off again at midnight under a brilliant full moon. Chris, from the Eora checkpoint accompanied us on this last leg. The music blearing from his MP3 player through a ridiculously big portable speaker that he carried in his arms must have woken all the locals and hikers on our way through the villages in the wee hours of Monday morning. Great tunes! No regard for anyone else.

Stopped to have a look at the monument at Isurava.

Actually ran the last 2km to Kokoda. Finished in time to have a quick shower, cup of tea & biscuit, and catch the early plane with a relieved Larry – they had had no radio contact with us after Efogi1!

The deep-fried chicken, chips and can of Fanta at the prize giving back in Port Moresby went down a treat! Got an infection in a sore on my food that had to be treated with antibiotics once back on home soil.

This was such a fantastic experience - no Australian should miss the opportunity to walk the Kokoda track to see where the Aussies walked during the war. Awesome. Get your boots on, let's go…

Cheers Lorraine

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