Oxfam Trailwalkers driven by individual goals
Some took part in the gruelling race to prove a point, others to keep a loved one's memory alive
A new record may have been set in this year's Oxfam Trailwalker, but competitors were still streaming across the finish line last night after tackling 20 hills in the 100-kilometre race.
On Friday night, the French team of Julien Chorier, Francois d'Haene, Michel Lanne and Andy Symonds won the race in 11 hours and 12 minutes. The Salomon France team was 47 minutes faster than the People's Liberation Army's record set in 2010.
But the large majority of other competitors were not vying to set as fast a time as possible, but simply to complete the gruelling endurance test within the permitted 48 hours, and many did it for specific reasons.
The Saving Liver team, for example, comprised two liver transplant doctors, a liver donor, and a recipient of a donated liver. The team, which completed the course in 29 hours and 40 minutes, took part to highlight the need for liver transplants.
"We wanted to show that having a liver transplant does not restrict your life and you can even do something as strenuous as the Trailwalker without any problems," team member Dr William Sharr said.
This year, no team epitomised the spirit of the race better than the one made up of the family members of Masa Tse Ting-chunn - the tour guide killed in Manila in 2010 when a sacked policeman took hostage a group of Hong Kong tourists in a bus.
Tse's father Hon-ming, 62, and brothers Chi-kin, 35, and Chi-hang, 30, participated in the event. Masa had done the Trailwalker in 1998, and his family members competed this year to keep the memory of him alive.
"We are not doing this for any political reasons concerning Masa's death in Manila. We are doing it as a family in his memory," Hon-ming said.
"The training we have done for the Trailwalker has brought us together as a family. His spirit is with us and he will always be in our hearts," he said.
Hon-ming believes that people can talk more openly when they are out hiking and discuss any number of topics. "It's not like sitting around the dinner table," he said. "It's much more relaxing. You're at ease and happy to talk about anything when you are walking through beautiful countryside."
The Trailwalker is for teams of four to raise money for Oxfam Hong Kong by tackling 100 kilometres of tough terrain, mostly along the MacLehose Trail. This year, 4,800 people in 1,200 teams competed.
The Trailwalker began in 1981 as a Gurkha-led training exercise for soldiers. Since opening to the public in 1986, it has raised more than HK$365 million.