Luke Alexander is feeling the pinch today after walking for more than 24 hours without sleep from Newcastle to the Central Coast for the F3 Derby.
But, as he and his band of four mates who braved the 90km journey through the dead of night to make it to the game at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday night will attest, every step was worth it.
It was all in the effort to raise money for the medical care of Ashley Treseder, a friend who was paralysed from the chest down after a freak accident in January this year.
“The first 10 kilometres we had a group of about 30 of us, with Ash and his friends with us,” Alexander said.
“Once they left we continued just us five, and the next 10 kilometres it really started to sink in what we were up against.”
The group of five including Alexander, Ben Hamilton, Dan Byatt, Kelsey Moss and Duncan Sandie left Newcastle on Friday afternoon, and as night fell mental and physical hurdles began to take their toll on each of them.
“There were so many challenges, each one of us went through our own issues,” Alexander said.
“[Walking through the night] was by far the most challenging part mentally.
“That’s when Kelsey [Moss] went down actually, at about 3:30 in the morning.
“At the 51 kilometre mark we were walking a pretty isolated path not close to the road and she rolled her ankle pretty badly.
“She had a quick break and we walked another 500 metres, then she fainted.
“We sat with her and recovered for 20 to 30 minutes, we were only one kilometre away from the next checkpoint where our support crew was so she took her shoes off, put on some pluggers and walked the next kilometre which was unbelievable.
“She sat out the next five to ten kilometres and somehow came back and smashed out the last 30 kilometres, which was just incredible.”
As the group carried on through the night the conditions began to take their toll, but there was one thing pushing them through at all times.
“It started to get cold and mentally it was very tough,” Alexander said.
“We all suffered at one point... but we just reminded each other why we were doing it and somehow our bodies just kept going.
“One of us would comment why we were doing it: for Ash.
“If we had to crawl to the finish line we would have, because he is that inspiring.”
But onwards they marched all the way to Central Coast Stadium where Ash Treseder, Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna and an army of Jets fans met with the walkers for a warm embrace and a celebration of the remarkable feat they had managed to pull off.
“I got goose bumps watching that,” Alexander said.
“Hundreds of Jets supporters led by Lawrie [McKinna] pushing Ash at the front.
“We just embraced.
“Walking down the hill to the stadium was a massive relief.
“It was a wonderful feeling, for me it was just relief as I don’t think I could have done another 5 kilometres, my body was just done.
“It’s not normal to walk that far without sleep, we were proud of our efforts and stoked we could pull it off for Ash.”
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After welcoming the walkers to the stadium, Treseder and his friends made their way into the ground where they watched their beloved Jets draw 1-1 with the Mariners in the first F3 Derby of the season.
It was a fitting reward to Treseder and his mates for fighting hardships and overcoming the odds while displaying a positive outlook throughout it all.
“I’ve never seen [Ash] so happy,” Alexander said.
“Lawrie told him at the last minute he was going to be walk the ball out onto the field.
“He didn’t expect any of it, he was overwhelmed and humbled.
“It’s something he’ll never forget, and he doesn’t know how to thank everyone for it.
“He described it as the best night of his life.”
The monumental overnight walk was done with the aim of raising vital funds for Treseder’s mounting medical bills and the football community dipped deep into their pockets across a weekend which summarised the power of human compassion and the strength of community.
“It’s thousands and thousands [raised] at this point,” Alexander said.
“We sold a fair few shirts so there’s a few buckets of money we haven’t counted yet.
“There’s plenty of people saying they want to donate which is nice.
“Lawrie was even carrying around a ‘Moving Mountains’ bucket at the game.”
With all five walkers making it to the game in one piece, thousands of dollars collected in donations and one unforgettable night at the football done and dusted, the first F3 Derby overnight walk will go down as a tremendous success.
And as they slowly work off the aches, pains and blisters, Alexander and his group of mates are already planning to do it all again.
“There’s rumours of a return leg when the Jets host the Mariners next year in February,” Alexander said.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”