Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TWALK 2009

TWALK has become more than just an event for us, it has become the event. An absurd reunion of old friends and rivals doing battle, talking shit and laughing our way through 24 hours of suffering in the great outdoors. One of my team mates this year Joe Jagusch summed it up for me when he said "I never feel so free as when running through the high country!".

Joe and Caspar with the Arrowsmiths behind

TWALK is a 24hr Mountain Marathon held annually by the University of Canterbury Tramping Club. It has five loops of around 20km each between which you return to a woolshed which is the event centre and feast quickly on a variety of hot food, which is generally the likes of lasagne, meat stew and muffins. During the loops teams navigate cross country, up and down hills and through matagouri thickets. It is a true trampers event, roadies stay at home. Checkpoints which are located every kilometre or two are sections of ice cream container lid with a word to record. Asides from the map you also have clues to describe the checkpoint, such as "Matt and Gary ate dinner" which experienced TWALKers would know automatically to be a cabbage tree surrounded by Matagouri:-) One rather facetious clue this year was "the fun stops here jump right in", with the control centred on a vast thicket of matagouri. Despite people crawling and bashing through the shitty scrub in the middle of the night no control was ever found!

So the first thing to decide with TWALK is what costumes to wear. There are generally two costume themes, the absurd and the geeky multisporter. The latter is generally frowned upon. A clear example can be seen here...

Nameless geeky multisporters ;-)

This year I was privileged to do TWALK with Joe Jagusch, Casper Harmer, Greg Thurlow and Matt Scott as Planet of the Apes. It required quite a bit of preparation, namely dealing with drunken shop assistants at op shops and delegating Casper to hire gorilla masks. Some went to more extreme lengths...below is a photo of Matt putting the final touches on his Charlton Heston space pack and Casper getting ready to go with barrier cream, battery fiddling and empty museli bar boxes.

Every year you meet at the University of Canterbury students union, pile onto buses and start to guess at the mysterious place where this years TWALK will be. Out of the carpark we headed south. Awesome it was south of the Waimak in the foothills. Then we went past the turn off to Darfield. Awesome! It must be down south of Mt Hutt somewhere! Sure enough we passed Rakaia and headed up Thomsons Track. Mt Somers passed on our right and we pulled to a halt in paddocks where the Stour emerges from the Ashburton Lakes Basin. This was very similar country to where some friends and I organised a mountain marathon last autumn but it was definitely an area open to more exploration!

Here is our team all ready to go....

Joe Jagusch as devolved human, Matt Scott as astronaut, Casper Harmer, Greg Thurlow and Jamie Stewart as Apes

And here is most of Pennys EPO, getting ready for another Tour.

It was a great year for absurd costumes, which well and truly overshadowed the geeky multisporter efforts. Here is a couple of goodies, the dragon and the sneaky Tui kegs. The latter were trying to sneak away at the start but were having a few troubles staying unnoticed!

The first leg was a little embarassing really, we were all far too maxxed out on joy and ridiculousness to do any serious navigation and ended up wasting a whole lot of time. As a result team EPO kept passing us quietly with little smirks on their faces. At another point the whole field spent 15 minutes searching for a checkpoint in completely the wrong place which was humourous. Eventually Team Planet of the Apes, made a break, surging ahead of "Team little girls in skirts". Tim Farrant, Tom Wilson and Scott McDonald as we passed Lake Emily in the shadow of the Arrowsmiths and headed to the Woolshed at Castle Ridge station. Its accepted that winning the first leg is probably more important than winning overall and here are my magnificent four team members giving every sinew of their being to get there ahead...

I will continue with a further discussion of the rest of the even, and navigation finer points over at the O Squad blog, when I get motivated to talk about more geeky stuff!


Mickos said...

Nice one! Can see a mag article coming up!

Bob McKerrow said...

Great reading Jamie. Stunning photos. Bob

Ross W said...

He he, good style!. What a drag that nothing like that happens around here...

I would have liked to see your hairy back in "Team little girl with skirts", but PofA is right up there with the Flintstones.

Jamie said...

Hey Ross,

Haha, I don't think that was really their name but it seemed appropriate! We were outclassed and outvoted by the Tui Kegs which was disappointing but inspirational at the same time.

Hope things are good over there


Veronica said...

Your blog entry makes me wanna do it again, and again and again. Mat and Gary, where are you??

Jamie said...

Hey Veronica,

Yes regrettably its a whole nother year until we get to make the mystery bus trip again to Matt and Garys lair.

Take care