They came, they ran, they conquered

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2007, 12:00am

It was a fine morning, still not 11am, but already a party was in full swing at the Perowne Barracks in Tuen Mun yesterday, where the competitors in the 26th Oxfam Trailwalker had just finished.

There were beers, champagne and chicken wings all round - and plenty of smiles on the exhausted faces of the competitors who had managed to complete the gruelling 100km MacLehose Trail through the New Territories.

They were happy because they had conquered an extreme challenge and at the same time raised money for those in need. By 11am, 597 teams had completed the event, down slightly from 606 teams at the same stage last year.

But conditions were better this year, according to competitors and organisers, with the air dry and a cooling breeze refreshing weary bodies out on the trail. Still, for a team from Australia, the course proved much tougher than the course they were used to outside Sydney.

'There was a lot more climbing and it was very hot for us out there,' said Elizabeth Woodgate, 43, after completing her sixth Trailwalker but her first in Hong Kong.

Ms Woodgate and her team of Sarah Antill, 34, Laima Wayne, 56, and Wendy Andrews, 32, attracted cheers and photographs during the race and at the finish line for their green and gold tutus. The idea for the tutus came because 'there is always some man in a gorilla suit' and they wanted to stand out and stand together.

'The sunset on Friday night and sunrise this morning made it worth it,' Ms Wayne said, adding they had been taking pictures like tourists rather than competitors on the scenic course.

'It's such a beautiful trail. All the people along the way have been so friendly. It's been a great experience.'

They finished in 25 hours.

Team Muscle Four, from Hong Kong and proud, seemed like celebrities as they drank champagne and beer with their large coterie. Jimmy Yee Pak-kin, 27, Mango Tam Siu-kan, 32, Lee Kwok-wai, 33, and Spencer Lee Sung-ki, 34, finished in 20 hours 51 minutes, but the achievement they were most proud of was raising HK$7,000 for charity.

'You build endurance, speed and share the training together. It's tough but meaningful because we raised money for charity,' Mr Lee said.

LGT Bank Team Green Women broke the record for the quickest all-female team, finishing the race in 14 hours 11 minutes, beating the old record by 37 minutes.

First past the post on Friday was Fire Services Beyond Limits, which finished in 12 hours 20 minutes.

Tough going

This is the 26th year of Trailwalker. All teams finishing within 48 hours will get a medal

The number of teams taking part in this year's event: 1,040