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What does it take to trek Kokoda?

ANZAC Day is just around the corner and whilst there are many ways to honour the diggers who so bravely fought for us, doing so by journeying the Kokoda Trail is an experience that’s hard to beat.

ANZAC Day is just around the corner and whilst there are many ways to honour the diggers who so bravely fought for us, doing so by journeying the Kokoda Trail is an experience that’s hard to beat.

Adventure trainer Joe Bonington shares his top tips to get Kokoda Trail ready as Aussies are inspired by the ANZAC Centenary

Having completed the Kokoda Trail himself, Joe Bonington, founder of adventure training gym Joe’s Basecamp, believes that journeying the Trail is one of the most empowering and rewarding adventures out there for Australians.

“The Kokoda Trail is one of the one of the most gruelling jungle treks in the world and because it’s steeped in some truly fascinating WWII History, it makes it that much more fulfilling to do”

Joe Bonington, founder of adventure training gym Joe’s Basecamp

Helping to inspire everyday people to do extraordinary things, Joe founded Joe’s Basecamp to help motivate and train his clients to complete incredible feats and some of his clients’ achievements include climbing Everest, running ultra marathons and of course completing long distance treks like the Kokoda Trail.  In fact, one of his clients is currently training to swim The English Channel.

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The Kokoda Trail is one of the one of the most gruelling jungle treks in the world.

With the ANZAC centenary approaching, many Aussies are inspired to plan their own Kokoda Trail trip, and with an average of 12 months training required to prepare for the 96 kilometre trek, that takes eight to 10 days to complete, Bonington has shared his top training tips if you plan to tackle the journey in 2016.

Train Steep

The Kokoda Trail is full of ascents and descents and Bonington points out that it is crucial to include lots of hills in your training – and the steeper the better. “Training on a treadmill simply won’t cut the mustard,” he warns. “Instead, make sure you train on lots of steep bush tracks with broken and uneven surfaces and train with a loaded backpack so you’re fully prepared for the lay of the land when you start the trek,” he adds.

 

Embrace the heart

According to Bonington, the climate is hot and sticky throughout the journey so don’t avoid training during those painfully humid summer days here in Australia.  “Embrace the heat, get used to pushing through in those conditions. Remember, the more you suffer in training, the less you’ll suffer on the track,” he advises.

 

Take the lunge

“The Kokoda terrain is exceptionally rugged so your training needs to really work the hips and everything that helps stabilise them,” Bonington says.  “Make sure your training is packed full of lunges.  Do lunges in different directions, lunges with your front foot raised, lunges with your back foot raised, walking lunges and even side lunges,” he adds. Lunges are everything insists Henry Talbot, who completed the Kokoda Trail in 2009. “The trail climbs and drops with foot placements at a million different heights and angles, so your legs and knees need to be strong enough to handle this. Joe made us practice our lunges with a weighted pack and I can’t say how much this helped us,” Talbot adds.

 

Load it up

Whether you decide to use a personal porter and just carry a day pack or you opt to carry a full load, according to Bonington you will be lugging around an average of seven to 15kg of extra weight respectively.  “Use the overload principle during your training and always train with a backpack load that is 5kg heavier than your pack will weigh, this way your body will be well adjusted to carrying additional weight on the journey,” he says.

 

Know your history

Walking The Kokoda trail will be an awe-inspiring experience no matter what, but to really appreciate the journey you should get to know the history, suggests Joe’s Basecamp client Matt Crehan, who completed the Kokoda Trail after training with Joe in 2014.  “While the PNG guides will know the land, make sure you read as much as you can on the history before you leave. Kokoda by Paul Ham and Kokoda by Peter Fitzsimons are great books to learn more about the trail’s amazing history,” Crehan says.

Are you planning to trek Kokoda?