Nutrition & Health
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Date Posted: 9 October 2023
The Kokoda Challenge is one of the coolest events I’ve taken part in, and whether you’re a first timer, or had such a good time you’ve come back for more, this is the place to be.
First and foremost, Kokoda is a team event, and whether it’s the 30km, 48km or the 96km, you’re in for the long haul, so have your team’s back. It’s pretty likely that it’ll get dark and cold during the event, so keep morale high and foster a good sense of camaraderie, and you’ll find that you and your team feel heaps better for it.
As with any sport, training for Kokoda must be specific. Lucky for us that makes it simple. Just walk! You may be an awesome swimmer or the fittest person on the bike, but getting in some time on your feet is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your teammates. How long you give yourself to train is up to you and your team’s fitness, but regardless, it’s important to gradually build specific endurance.
I would recommend increasing walking workload by small increments weekly, somewhere around 10-15% extra so that you’re always progressing without injuring yourself. For instance, if I was to plan a 15km walk one week, the next week I wouldn’t do more than around 18km.
Something with lugs! That’s my best advice, and something that will avoid some considerable annoyances. Irrespective of the event you take part in, there’s some steep, steep hills, and if you have an outsole that doesn’t grip, you’ll be kicking yourself. Whether you choose a hiking boot, hiking shoe, or a flexible trail runner, is up to you and your needs. If extra ankle support or stability in the sole is something you may need, then a hiker is a good idea, but as I’ve found, a comfy trail runner can be just as valuable.
And I lied before, my best advice is to try shoes on before you buy them! Something people can overlook is the consideration of the steep descents and your feet swelling, both of which can cause blisters and black toenails. So, if your shoes feel too snug now, it’s important to remember that your feet might swell up like balloons after a couple hours. I generally go a half size up from my normal shoe size so that at the end of the day my toenails are all intact.
Pair your favourite shoes with some comfy hiking socks for extra blister resistance. If you're especially susceptible to blisters, consider some dual-layer or toe socks (or carry some blister plasters just in case).
Something you may have heard before is to test everything you plan to eat and drink before the race, and I’ll let you know now that it’s not something to find out the hard way. It’s not fun spending time on the toilet when you could be out enjoying the beautiful scenery because you tried a new gel or hydration mix. Personally because of the longer duration of Kokoda I prefer to eat solid food along the way accompanied by the odd energy gummy or gel, and paired with some form of hydration drink.
So, there’s some extra tips for The Kokoda Challenge (You can find all the compulsory equipment and other info on their website). It’s a really unique event because it emphasises the importance of enjoying the experience and leaning on your teammates as opposed to racing against the clock or meeting a time goal. To that end I would recommend taking in the stunning scenery and getting some photos to remember the hike (a nice distraction from your aching calves). I hope this information has helped, and that you have fun and take advantage of such a great event. Good luck!