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    TWO brothers, both surgeons from Australia arrived 17 hours too late to beat Osborne Bogajiwai's record of running the whole length of the 97km hazardous Kokoda Trail in 2 days at the unbeatable time of approximately 28 hours.

    Marty and Raphael Blum were the 'men of the moment' when their trek unintentionally became a hot gig for villagers on the trail as well as other trekking companies who picked up and followed their trek on the two-way radio systems.

    The Blum brothers made it in four days and set a 'track record' time of 45 hours for any international trekkers who have trekked through PNG based Extreme Kokoda Trekking Adventure (EKTA) tours – http://www.kokodatrail.com.pg

    Marty and Raphael Blum on their way to Owers' Corner to begin their four-day trek



    In 1982, Osborne Bogajiwai, from the Oro province ran from Kokoda and arrived at Owers' Corner within a record time of 28 hours, 14 minutes and – this was 3 hours, 46 minutes and 30 seconds short of his target time of 24 hours.

    The then 20 year-old Osborne was wearing a pair of Dunlop joggers when he ran his along the trail. Twenty years later, and today, his track record remains unchallenged. No one dared try to take up the challenge.

    (R-L)Kingsley Boroni (Kokoda Guide), Marty & Raphael Blum



    What was he thinking! 'The only thought that came to mind was that I had to beat the time, Osborne has said when interrogated by this writer a year ago. Osborne was sponsored by Pacific Expedition and his story was published in the overseas runner's magazine.

    However, the Blum brothers had other reasons. It was not Osborne's track record that pushed them into taking up the challenge. As Marty explained, 'I was given a week off my busy schedule and only had four days to spend on the trek before catching the next flight back to Australia.'

    Raphael (left) & Marty (right) congratulate each other after their trek seen here in the photograph taken at the Gateway Hotel, Wednesday 28th April, 2004



    The brothers didn't really have much choice. It was a 'do or die' situation for them as they had to be at Kokoda Station in time for the Airlines of PNG Flight back to Port Moresby on Wednesday 28th April.

    One brother Raphael arrived a day early to prepare food and other items with their guide Kingsley Boropi a guest house owner and guide with Extreme Kokoda Trekking Adventure Tours. The other brother, Marty arrived on the 23rd of April and with no time to waste, all three of them headed straight for Ower's Corner. All trekkers carried their own pack each weighing around 20kg.

    The journey from Owers' Corner to Naoro was made longer by the fact that road from Vesulogo village up at Sogeri to Owers' was impassible to vehicles. It took them one hour to get to Owers' Corner on foot from the nearest village.

    On arrival back in Port Moresby following their successful trek. Photograph taken at Jackson's Airport 28th April, 2004.



    From Ower?s Corner, they walked down to Uberi Creek and spent the night camping in the bush.

    The second day of their trek started from Uberi where they camped for the night at Naoro village and took off in the morning for Naduri. It took them 13 hours each way whilst a trip from Naduri to Alola lasted for 10 hours.

    Russell Eroro congratulating Dr Marty Blum on his successful 4 day trek of the Kokoda Trail:



    'The last day was a pleasant surprise for me apart from the many unpleasant surprises on the first three days,' Raphael said when referring to his battle with the steep and perilous slopes of the trail. He said the journey from Alola to Kokoda was an easy stretch -flat all the way to Kokoda.'

    It was Raphael's very first trek. Marty however, was familiar with the trail. He came to do the trek in 2001 however didn't complete the trek and only made as far as Efogi. His first trek saw him heading out with a group that had never walked the trail before and they ended up taking a wrong turn and got lost. Finally, he gave up and didn't complete the journey and arranged a flight back to Port Moresby.

    Apparently his friends all Papua New Guinean's managed to find their way eventually to Kokoda minus the young aussie doctor who at the time was doing his elective in Madang. This time however, with his brother and a lot of fitness beforehand and an experienced guide who knew the track, they came, they conquered and completed the trek in four days, five nights.

    Russell Eroro congratulates Dr Raphael Blum after his successful Kokoda Trek:



    What made their trekking a hot gig for everyone along the trail was the fact that they started the unusual way – 4 days from Owers' corner to Kokoda (to most trekkers this is the hardest way as many prefer a head start from Kokoda).

    Those who had a clear reception on their radio followed their track right through to the very end. Of course, Marty and Raphael had no idea this was happening until after they completed their trek. Russell Eroro presently in Port Moresby waiting new trekkers from Australia met up with fellow wantoks earlier this week and it seemed everyone was talking about their trek and listened on the radio for updated messages.

    The brothers spent the night in Kokoda and caught the next flight back to Port Moresby on Wednesday morning as per plan. Both doctors left for Australia the next morning at 7am. Only Marty suffered any problems and when last seen was walking around barefoot as he couldn't put on his shoes due to blisters on his feet. Raphael the older brother on the other hand had no problems whatsoever.

    To Marty, the break was worth it and Raphael, well maybe, next time he will ask a few more questions before he allows his brother to take him on another trek with no more unpleasant surprises.


    Left to Right, Raphael & Marty all smiles at ANG Restaurant on Wednesday night after their highly successful trek:

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