20.04.2016 : Andrew McQueen

Get walking

What does 100 km, 15.5 hours, 10 pairs of shoes, 9 mm of rain, 7 stages, 4 support crew members and countless 'dad’ jokes result in? Second place at the Oxfam Trailwalker in Whakatane.

What does 100 km, 15.5 hours, 10 pairs of shoes, 9 mm of rain, 7 stages, 4 support crew members and countless 'dad’ jokes result in? Second place at the Oxfam Trailwalker in Whakatane.

If you’ve ever considered entering an event, whether it’s with your friends or colleagues, I’d highly recommend it.

There is nothing like the power of team work and the feeling of overcoming huge mental and physical challenges together.

On 2 April 2106, Gus Montgomery, Matt Girvan, Tenille Burnside (who joined us from Russell McVeagh) and I, waited anxiously at the start line along with our support crew. We were a team of young engineers called ‘Beca Get Walking’ and we were walking for Oxfam; helping to raise money to give people throughout the Pacific a hand-up.

Matt: “My training and lead up to the event was reasonably measured – fitting plenty of running into the small gaps in my life, experimenting with nutrition and trying unsuccessfully to avoid injury.

It all seemed straightforward enough in the beginning, but as I stood at the start line and looked at the big hill climb ahead of us my heart started pounding. It all became very real. Did I really think I could do all 100 km?

The buzzer went off and my nerves quickly disappeared as we got into our stride. We were doing what we enjoyed with good mates so of course we could do it! Not even the torrential rain would dampen our spirits!”

Gus: “It was my first marathon. I’d never done an event where the goal was to conserve energy – it felt weird. Initially it was hard to keep a steady pace and not work up a puff. Luckily, Tenille (who’d done the event before) reined us in and made sure we didn’t burn out early.

The hardest part was the 6th leg, from 71 km to 88 km. My feet were ‘shot’ and it was getting dark, so when Sam McHattie joined us as a support walker I was grateful. He’d prepared a list of dad jokes and inspirational quotes to keep us going, as well as literally pushing us up the hills!”

Tenille: “Our support crew were an amazing help. It was incredibly uplifting to see and hear them cheering as we came into the support stations. They became a well-oiled machine and would have the coffee brewing, a chair ready for you to collapse into (apart from Gus who didn't sit down the entire day) and a dry change of clothes.

We were lucky they were structural engineers, capable of constructing a makeshift shelter out of a tarpaulin, bamboo sticks and forks (Whakatane had sold-out of marquees due to the rain!). They also kept us in touch with the outside world, reading messages of support from friends and family who were following our progress.”

When we reached the final 3 km along the waterfront footpath, we’d been going for over 15 hours. The sight of Whakatane and the finish line gave us a boost of energy - at this stage of an endurance event, being strong mentally (as well as physically) is just as important.

Together, after 100 km, nearly 2000 vertical meters climbed and 15.5 hours, we found the strength to sprint the fastest 3 km of the day.

My initial reaction after crossing the line was relief - it had been a long day - followed by excitement when we realised we had come second.

The enormity of what we had just achieved didn’t really set in until recently, when we’d a chance to reflect on the day. It was one of the best feelings crossing the finish line together. We’d laughed, munched and shuffled our way through 100 kilometres. And after a long, tough, wet and muddy day, we celebrated with a bottle of chocolate milk closely followed by a beer and massage.

As I said at the start, there is nothing like the power of teamwork.

If you enjoy what you do, and have a great bunch of mates (or colleagues), your accomplishments can be easy.

About the Author

Andrew McQueen

Civil Engineer

Andrew is a Civil Engineer in our Auckland Transport Infrastructure team. During his time at Beca he has been involved in a variety of Civil Infrastructure projects with a focus on Airport Infrastructure. He has worked on airports throughout New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. Andrew is an avid runner and triathlete who has competed in multiple marathons and other endurance sports events.

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