PLA takes second straight Trailwalker title
The People's Liberation Army made it back-to-back titles in the 2010 Oxfam Trailwalker last night in a time of 11 hours 59 minutes and three seconds. The PLA's second string finished runners-up in 12 hours 31 minutes 48 seconds, with Salomon Bonaqua Racing coming in third after 12 hours 39 minutes and three seconds.
Last year the Hong Kong garrison also swept the first two places in the race in controversial fashion after accusations of questionable tactics when they used a support crew of more than 50 people, drawing complaints from some competing teams.
After last year's race, runners and support runners for the teams which came fourth and sixth complained that the PLA teams used an excessive number of support runners to join the route at intervals, and give out food and water at checkpoints.
This was compared to the Gurkhas - the dominant participants in the past, who used only two or three support runners. They did not join the event last year and are not competing this year.
But the PLA reiterated it wasn't all about being first over the line.
'Participation in the event and friendship are more important than winning the challenge,' a PLA spokesman said.
This year a record-breaking 1,150 participating teams, comprising 4,600 walkers, tackled the 100km-MacLehose Trail from Sai Kung to Yuen Long. Those taking part have 48 hours to complete the course.
The annual event, which raises money for Oxfam's poverty-alleviation and emergency-relief projects in Asia and Africa, was first held in 1986. The charity, which has been active in launching projects on the mainland, suffered a blow earlier this year when it had to suspend a training programme for university-student volunteers after a row. A notice, attributed to the Ministry of Education and appearing on the websites of several mainland universities in February, labelled the group 'a non-governmental organisation that has been trying hard to infiltrate China' and said 'its head is a key member of the opposition camp'. It was later removed from the websites. The PLA's participation in this year's Trailwalker event was seen as an olive branch to Oxfam after the controversy.