The 10th to 16th of June has been nationally recognised as Men’s Health Week, to raise the awareness of men’s physical and mental health.

For us, Men’s Health Week is a time to reflect and celebrate some of the stories of real-life men taking on Oxfam Trailwalker.

We caught up with Aniket Sud, who in 2017, decided to take on Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne. Aniket tells a raw and honest account of how even after battling depression and anxiety for many years, Oxfam Trailwalker was one of the hardest things he has ever faced.  Aniket pushed through 84 grueling kms before having to retire at the final checkpoint, although he says it was the support of his friends, support crew and team that left him feeling proud of what he had achieved.

How has Oxfam Trailwalker affected your physical health?

“I certainly felt fitter after the months of training that went into the preparation for Oxfam Trailwalker. I had never walked or hiked for over 10km in one day without stopping, but that had become merely a half way point for many of our training walks. I surprised myself by how much stronger and fitter I was becoming. Even after a long training day I wasn’t feeling tired or fatigued.

Aniket at checkpoint one, 12kms into his journey

How has Oxfam Trailwalker strengthened your mental health?

“As someone who has battled depression and anxiety since their early 20’s, Oxfam Trailwalker was admittedly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The mental strain of walking that distance, fighting the fatigue and walking through painful muscle aches certainly tested me unlike anything had before (there were many tears), but I came out of it at the other end. I made it to the final checkpoint, just 16 km short of the finish line before ending my journey, but that was 20 kms further than when my body had wanted to stop.

Even though I felt completely defeated both mentally and physically, the support received from my friends, support crew, and team helped me feel proud of what I had done. I can’t confidently say that Trailwalker “strengthened” my mental health, but it certainly helped me realise that I can push past the limits I place upon myself. In hindsight, what I learned about myself during Oxfam Trailwalker may have helped me make important personal decisions in the years since.”

What advice would you give anyone else thinking about taking on Oxfam Trailwalker?

“Train, train, train! If you think you’ve trained enough, go for another very long hike, at night, when it’s cold. Your support crew is invaluable. Keep them in the loop regarding your location and make sure they have lots of high energy food for you to eat. Have fun with the fundraising, it’s not just Facebook posts and selling chocolate. There are plenty of great ideas and resources online that you can use to hold fundraising events.”

Night training walks are essential

Aniket’s story is a true testament to the challenging nature of Oxfam Trailwalker. When we asked him whether he would be back, we took his hesitation as a sign that might not be the case.  Although, he reinforced that Oxfam Trailwalker certainly helped him realise that he can push past the limits he places upon himself and what he learnt about himself during his 84km journey may have helped him make important personal decisions in the years since.

Are you ready to test your limits and take on the original team challenge?

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