Trailwalker taking steps to become global finale
Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker organisers hope to make next year's event a 'grand finale' for winners of the international trailwalker series.
Oxfam Trailwalker advisory committee chairman Bernard Chan said at a press conference to discuss this year's event, which begins next week, that he wants the world's best trailwalker teams to come to Hong Kong to compete in 2012.
'It would really take the profile of the event to another level,' Chan said. 'We would need to get sponsors who would be willing to fund these international teams' participation, but it could be done. Oxfam's Trailwalker in Hong Kong is the last of the year, so it would be perfect to host a grand finale. We should think about staging it now before one of the other countries do.'
Hong Kong initiated the 100-kilometre endurance team challenge in 1981, when it was held as a British army training exercise led by the Hong Kong Gurkha Signals Squadron, part of the Brigade of Gurkhas of the British Army. In 1986 the Gurkha Welfare Trust invited Oxfam Hong Kong to join the event as organisers.
The event has not only grown enormously in popularity, but also spawned similar Oxfam Trailwalkers in 12 other countries, such as Australia, England, Ireland, Japan, Spain and New Zealand.
Chan said they would ensure an expansion would not detract from the fundraising aspect of the Trailwalker as it was equally important.
Since Oxfam took over as organiser in 1986, more than 69,000 trailwalkers have raised HK$340 million for various Oxfam projects to alleviate poverty.
'We have to try and combine the sport and charity aspects of Trailwalker as best we can,' Chan said.
The event, which has grown into one of the city's signature events, will celebrate its 30th anniversary when it starts next Friday.
'It has become the biggest sporting export in Hong Kong, as the international Trailwalker events have proved,' said John Sayer, director general of Oxfam Hong Kong. 'It really has gone global.'
The idea behind Oxfam Trailwalker is for teams of four to raise money for Hong Kong Oxfam by walking or running the entire 100 kilometres course within 48 hours. 'Super Trailwalker' teams must complete the trail within 18 hours.
A record number of 4,800 people in 1,200 teams will take up the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge next weekend. They will start at Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung and finish at Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp in Yuen Long.
Time it took the People's Liberation Army team to complete the 100 kilometre course last year and claim back-to-back titles