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Four Women & One Trek

03 October 2022

A 55km trek along the stunning Sydney Coastline.
Could you handle it? What would you
take in your backpack?

The annual Sydney Coastrek kicks off on the 6th March 2015 when a new bunch of trekkers are going to tackle the 55km challenge and raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation, a non-profit Australian organisation treating and preventing blindness.


We recently met the ‘SeaHawks’, a group of four wily women preparing to embark on the challenge, and asked them some hot-topic questions:



Age: 43. Hometown: Manly Vale, Sydney. Occupation: Marketing Agency Director.


Age: 36. Hometown: Cromer, Sydney. Occupation: Office Administration.


Age: 24. Hometown: Originally from York in the U.K. Occupation: Pre-school teacher and mental health worker. 


Age: 35. Hometown: Originally from New Zealand. Occupation: Store Manager. 





Have you completed the Coastrek before?

NICOLE: No, this is my first time!

ELLY: Yes, just once.

HARRIET: I haven’t done it before, but I’m so excited for the challenge.

EMMA: No, never.


Elly, when and how did you go? What (or who) inspired you to participate?

ELLY: In 2014, and I absolutely loved it, even with the torrential rain. Hiking has always been a part of my life, and since having kids I haven’t had a chance to go bush. This was an opportunity for me to get back to what I love, even if only for a day. A colleague at work had a spare spot in her team so I jumped at the chance.


What (or who) has inspired you to participate this year?

NICOLE: The girls in my team are my constant inspiration.  We all work out together at CrossFit Manly Vale, and it was such a great idea to join forces and complete Coastrek this year.  I’m so proud to be part of their team!

HARRIET: The girls at the gym inspired me, it’s also the most beautiful place to walk. I want to make the most of Australia while I’m here.

EMMA: I really wanted a challenge and the distance was daunting enough to push myself into it!!


Have you participated in any other walks / treks / runs before?

NICOLE: I have been a runner for a lot of years, completing lots of 10K and Half Marathon races along with Triathlons and adventure races.  I also completed the Canberra Marathon 5 years ago, which I completed in 3 hours and 43 minutes.  I had to stop racing after that though due to an injury, but am glad to say I have just had surgery (which was 10 weeks ago on Friday!), and this is my first race back since that operation.

ELLY: I have done numerous walks and hikes throughout my life since the age of 10. However Coastrek was the first charity event and also the furthest distance I had covered in one day.

HARRIET: I have taken part in two 10km runs and one 5km run before. In the U.K, two around York for charity and one for Nike in London. Nothing similar to this! Oh actually I walked the three peaks in Yorkshire, we didn’t do it under 12 hours (to get a certificate I hear) because we went to the pub for lunch, so not quite the same, it was tough though!

EMMA: I have completed the ultra half marathon in Melbourne (great ocean road), Tough Mudder in Melbourne and various crossfit competitions


Have you done much training individually (or as a team) in preparation for the Coastrek?

NICOLE: Yes, after my operation, the only things I was really able to do was walk and swim, so having this event coming up has been a major inspiration on my recovery journey.  Last Wednesday I was given the all clear by my surgeon to return to pre-operative exercise levels, so from here on, I’ll be stepping it up until the week prior to the race!

ELLY: We started training early Jan and are doing around 2-3 walks a week together. We all also do CrossFit 3 or more times a week. That’s where we all met.

HARRIET: I haven’t done any walking training individually, I need their motivation!! I think Emma has been catching up on walks by herself as sometimes she works the weekend, she has a fantastic training and work ethic.

EMMA: We have done a combination of the two. We are all addicted to crossfit and train at least 4 times a weeek at crossfit Manly Vale. We have ensured that we do at least two 10km trek training’s a week. These are such great fun and good team building time! We also completed two 20km walks and one at 30km. The weather has been great on all of the long ones so we have been lucky.


How long do you anticipate it will take your team to finish the trek?

NICOLE: If you ask Elly, she’ll say between 10 and 12 hours… but I think we’ve got a bit more in us than that, so I’m hoping for between 9 and 10 hours!

ELLY: I’d say around 11 hours, but if you ask Nicole she will say 9-10.

HARRIET: I will say around 10-11? Not because I have any idea but because Nic will say 9 and Elli 11 or 12 so I’ll just go in the middle. I’m not a leader in the group, they all look after me and I try and stick to the pace!

EMMA: This is a great question… Nicole tends to think we will run it all and finish in 5 hours. However, we will just be stoked to finish in anything under 12 hours.


What are you planning on taking in your backpack?

NICOLE: My backpack will have a rain-jacket (it has rained the past few events, so you’ve got to be prepared!), hi-viz vest for the road sections, some first aid items (blister pads, bandages, band-aids, etc), a small towel, mobile phone and additional battery pack, map of the course, white bread and vegemite sandwich, protein balls, bounce balls, a couple of energy gels plus 2 litres of water.  We’ve also arranged for a short-black coffee hit at one of the cafés along the way…

ELLY: It’s a little weather-dependent, but hopefully we won’t have to carry too much. For me, it’ll be water (around 2 litres), small snack food that I can eat on the go and is easy to digest – haven’t quite figured out what yet but will include some glucose jelly beans. Band-aids, elastic bandage in case of an ankle sprain, pain relief (Panadol / ibuprofen), head torch, spare socks, sun-cream, camera/phone, and a raincoat if needed.

HARRIET: Water, food; bananas and peanut butter (I’m addicted) maybe some frozen fruit because it’s like ice lollies half way and good sugars. A towel, my bikini! Some spare socks and maybe some spare shoes.

EMMA: On the day I will have 1.5 of water in hydration pack, 2 vegemite sandwiches, 2 pieces of fruit, 2 date slice, some jelly beans and dried fruit – wow it sounds like alot  but I needed to eat at least every hour on the 20km ones.


Is there anything about the trek that you’re worried/apprehensive about?

NICOLE: The first section of the race from Palm Beach to Long Reef is going the be more challenging as it has a lot of very steep climbs and soft sand sections, but it’ll have NOTHING on the 3.5km long soft sand stretch of the trek from North Narrabeen to Collaroy Beach – that is most definitely the hardest section, and is a part of the race none of us are really looking forward to!

ELLY: I’m just hoping it’s not a heat wave that day – apart from that I am just really excited.

HARRIET: I’m worried about my feet, I also hope that we are able to remain a cohesive and close team. I’m worried that Ellie’s knees will give her grief and about Nic’s hip as she has recently had an operation. They are not likely to moan so would just charge through any pain. Such a driven group of women!

EMMA: I am nervous about not being able to make it to the finish line but I am with a great team.


(Click here to read Part 2: The Verdict!)


By Hannah Begg