At four in the morning, walking along suburban flatland with house upon house stretching out in front of them, somewhere between Ōhope and Whakatāne, team Community Fit Kāpiti was being tested to the limits, both mentally and physically.

The team, Rachel Delaney, Karen Ellis, Lee Booth and Niamh McManus, had walked more than 70km but still had a long way to go.

"At first we thought 100km, a team of four, 25km each — that sounds all good," Rachel said.

Soon realising everyone had to complete the 100km together, it was too late to back out.

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"With Karen, if you give her any indication that you might be into something in the fitness department, she just latches on.

Team Kapiti Community Fit reaching the finish line with a time of 31 hours, 33 minutes and eight seconds.
Team Kapiti Community Fit reaching the finish line with a time of 31 hours, 33 minutes and eight seconds.

"By that point we knew it was 100km as a team and you just can't get out of it."

Community Fit Kāpiti started out as a fitness group with the intention of getting fit in good company, but over the last two years, it has raised thousands of dollars for local causes.

"It's about feeling good on the inside, but also helping the community," said Karen, who runs the group.

Meeting together on Tuesday and Thursday evenings along with an additional activity on Sunday for a small koha donation, the group uses the money to go to a cause of their choosing.

This year the team took a big step forward in both their fitness and money-raising ventures by participating in the Oxfam NZ 100km Trailwalker, raising money for a cause further away from home.

Singing up after Christmas last year and having three short months to reach their fundraising and fitness goals, the group quickly kicked into gear.

Running movie fundraisers, raffles, holding concerts and getting the support of many organisations and businesses in Kāpiti, the group doubled their fundraising goal by raising over $4000.

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"We only started training after Christmas but we didn't start as complete couch potatoes," Rachel said.

Already training three times a week, the group upped their training and practised walking through the night, eating the right food, walking through tiredness by training after a long working day and practised clocking up the kilometres.

"It was never about the time, but about the accomplishment of finishing," Karen said.

"We were all elated to finish.

"There were lots of tears."

Along with the accomplishment of finishing, the group took out Team of 2019.

Awarded to the team that embodies the spirit of the Oxfam Trailwalker through the physical, fundraising and team aspects, the group was rewarded for raising double their goal and embodying the community spirit.

"Because we normally raise money locally it was nice to be able to do something outside of that," Rachel said.

"There are a lot of fitness events you can do that are not for charitable causes, but the Oxfam Trailwalker fitted with our ethos of helping others along with it being a physical challenge."

The group had a fluid guideline of how long they thought the walk might take but found there was a lot more elevation than expected along the way.

"I thought it would be 100km flat but the hills were very challenging.

"Reaching a hill after having already walked 80km, it was very slow."

However, the group finished in a solid time of 31 hours with the help of many supporters along the way.

"For us the best part about it was achieving it together. That was the absolute best."