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Top tips for tackling The Kokoda Trail

The Kokoda Track in the mountainous jungles of Papua New Guinea has to be one of the most iconic multi-day treks for Australians to tackle. People return with massive smiles and tales of sucking mud, leeches, boots that never dry and long hot days pushing up and down the mountain tracks trying not to trip on the millions of tree roots determined to put you on your bum. Joe’s done Kokoda as have many of his clients he has trained over the years. So we asked them for their top tips for enjoying the Kokoda Track.
Henry Talbot

  1. Don’t take a poncho – I’d been advised this was a good option but found it impossible to see where I was putting my feet so never wore it. You have to pay attention every step of the way – literally. A lightweight rain jacket would have been a much better option.
  2. Asymmetric lunges in training – Joe had us doing these weird asymmetric lunges as part of a training routine lunging in awkward and all directions. All was revealed when we hit the track. The track climbs and drops with foot placements at a million different heights and angles so legs and knees need to be strong enough to handle this. Practice the lunges with a weighted pack. I can’t say how much these helped us!
  3. Don’t go out too hard on days you feel strong. I felt great on Day 4 so enjoyed pushing hard on the climbs – only to find I was totally stuffed for Day 5.

Matt Crehan

  1. Hygiene is crucial, take Dukoral (Vaccine for Cholera). There were four of us and by the first morning we were down to two due to food poisoning. I’m sure it saved me.
  2. When training across strength and conditioning lean more toward the conditioning.
  3. Know your history, the PNG guides will know the land. Read as much as you can, Kokoda by Paul Ham and Kokoda by Peter Fitzsimons are great books.

Joe Bonington

  1. Train for specificity- training on a treadmill won’t cut the mustard. Train on a lot of steep bush tracks with broken and uneven surfaces and train with a pack. Learn asymmetric lunging techniques and do them! ….. loads of them!
  2. Hydrate properly – be aware of hyponatremia (drinking too much water). Calculate your sweat rate, so you can work out how much fluids and salts you need to replace. I’ll write a blog post about this but in the meantime feel free to contact me about how to do this.
  3. Look after your feet – This is crucial, every night on the track spend time washing, drying and cleaning your feet, use anti fungals and disinfectants nightly and powder them before you go to bed. I’ve seen one lad lose all the skin from the bottom of his feet, just peel off because he didn’t keep drying them.
  4. Take as many spare socks as you can possibly carry! – On the track weight is everything but a few extra pairs of socks will help with everything. You will get soaked, your boots will get soaked but just putting on a dry pair of socks… even if they are going into soggy boots just makes you feel so good.

If you’re thinking of tackling the Kokoda Track but are unsure on where to start your fitness training program then get in touch and we’ll set you on the right path.
Matt Crehan on Kokoda Track
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