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Journeys : RACT MNJ June July 2010
On 21 November 1971, I was one of three expats who participated in the once-only Fisher man Island swim in the seas off Port Moresby. There were many obstacles to overcome during the 12 kilometre swim to the mainland -- hot and humid temperatures both in and out of the water, uncharted reefs and coral, and the predatory inhabitants of those tropical waters. With sharks and crocs on our minds, it was sea snakes that unexpectedly joined all swimmers during the event. Before the swim that year I became a first- time father to Danielle, bor n in Port Moresby in July 1971. Last year, as a not- so-young man, I returned to PNG with a grow n-up Danielle. This time a different kind of endurance effort was on my mind -- the 155 kilometre trek along the Kokoda Trail. The trail saw both the anniversary of my 1971 swim and Danielle's birthday. By climbing along the Kokoda Trail I achieved a long-held dream that began all those years ago when Susanne and I would walk from the elevated village of The Kokoda experience -- sea to summit Chris Guesdon At Gallipoli a nation was forged -- but at Kokoda, a nation was saved. The Kokoda Trail follows in the footsteps of Australian soldiers who faced a test of body and spirit as they fought the Japanese across the majestic and challenging Owen Stanley Ranges, dealing with tropical rain, mud, heat, hazardous river crossings and unrelenting mountain passes. We followed the original wartime trail through battlefields, fire support bases, casualty evacuation stations and air supply areas, and learned of this important event in Australia's military history. Our group successfully completed the ten-day expedition trail from Owers Corner to Kokoda in Papua New Guinea. We returned relatively unscathed apart from some scratches and sore muscles and we gained a new appreciation of what the Diggers must have gone through during the Kokoda campaign, from climbing the seemingly never-ending Brigade Hill to the steep descent into Templeton's Crossing. This appreciation was heartfelt during a moving Dawn Service at the memorial at Isurava on the second-last day, where the memorial displays four stones, each bearing a single word: Courage Endurance Mateship Sacrifice Sogeri to the start of the trail and together wonder about whether to take it on. Not in a position to do so then due to commitments with my young daughter, my time had arrived -- this time, I climbed the trail with Danielle by my side. It's difficult to put the experience into words -- but it is one I will never forget. Left: Coming ashore at Ela Beach, Port Moresby in 1971 -- Chris is greeted by his wife Susanne and Joe Kuth, Austrian coach of the PNG 1971 South Pacific Games team. Far Left: Chris and his daughter Danielle taking part in another test of endurance, the Kokoda Trail. Tasmanian Chris Guesdon has recently been inducted into the 2009 Honor Class of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. In May, he joined swimmers from around the world at the induction ceremony at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Chris, who was behind the vision of the 10 km marathon swim and its inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, was also awarded the Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Plate, an international award that recognises an individual's contribution to the administration of open water swimming. For more on the Kokoda Trail, see our feature on page 55 of this issue. Life on the move 31 June /July 2010
April May 2010
Aug Sep 2010