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Get your charity walking shoes on women

Nov 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Top Picture

FIGHTING FIT: Ms Albert’s walking group at the Mangaroa Valley Loop in Upper Hutt

HER OWN LIFE was changed by long distance walking – now Natalia Albert is helping Wellington women transform their lives for a good cause.

With the Wellington Women’s Walking Project, she hopes to rally together 100 women to walk with her in the 2013 Oxfam Trailwalker in Taupo.

Ms Albert, of Khandallah, says participating in the walk will give people the opportunity to improve their fitness and self-confidence while raising money for Oxfam.

“Oxfam has given us the opportunity to do something really incredible that not everyone can do,” she says of the 100km walk, which must be completed in 36 hours.

“They’ve come up with a way of fundraising by getting people to this life-changing thing for themselves. By helping yourself, you’re also providing resources to underprivileged countries.”

Ms Albert (30), originally from Mexico City, first caught the walking bug after trekking across Spain five years ago.

She and a friend walked along the Northern Way of St James, stretching from the French Pyrenees to the north western coastal settlement of Galicia.

“My feet were covered in blisters, but I didn’t care,” says Ms Albert (left, with her mother), who believes the experience made her “a more confident human being”.

“It was an amazing mind over body experience.”

When she arrived in New Zealand in 2011 she signed up for the Oxfam Trailwalker – but did not finish the race.

She was determined to give the walk another try, this time with a much bigger support crew.

This gave her the idea for the Wellington Women’s Walking Project, starting with emails to all the women she knew in Wellington at the time, including her GP and dentist.

She proposed they tackle Wellington’s six major walkways in preparation for the 2013 Oxfam event.

“Six people showed up for the first walk I organised. Twenty-five people showed up for the second one,” she says.

“And then I thought, ‘what if I go big and invite 100 women to the Trailwalker?’”

“We now have 30 women registered [for the Trailwalker] on the Oxfam website. I need to get 70 more in five months. The clock is ticking.”

Ms Albert is working hard to promote the Wellington Women’s Walking Project, through Facebook, Twitter,, her personal blog and local information sessions about the project.

She says the response to the project has been positive.

“When we were getting started, people said, ‘sure. See you there,’” says Ms Albert, whose walking buddies range in age from 20 to 70, and “everywhere in between.”

“Walking is a very safe concept. You don’t need much gear, or experience or a coach.

“It’s for all ages, fitness levels and walks of life. And it’s an awesome way to unwind.”

Ms Albert plans to organise two big future walks for charity – down the length of the North Island in 2014, and the length of the South Island in 2015.

Ms Albert will be hosting an information evening at Onslow College on December 1 at 10am.

Images: supplied

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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