Taxi drivers, firemen, bankers, "desperate housewives" and other adventure racers gathered yesterday for a test of brains as well as brawn at the annual Outward Bound Adventure Race.
In teams of four, with names like the HK Sea Cucumbers, YOLO, and Desperate Housewives, they ran, swam, kayaked, and answered quick-fire questions along the 15 to 19.5 kilometre trails across Hong Kong Island to Stanley.
"There was a lot of bushwhacking. As you can see everyone is scratched," said Magdalena Cvetkovic, a 30-year-old associate director at Swiss bank UBS, pointing at the red criss-cross marks on her legs. Others around her were also nursing battle wounds as they lay about Stanley plaza recuperating from the race.
The conditions were favourable this year, with the skies blue and a balmy breeze blowing through the morning.
In the elite category tackling the 19.5 kilometre route, the fastest team, CORES, finished in three hours and 34 minutes.
On the 15km challenge route, Operation Breakthrough finished an impressive three hours and 26 minutes after they started.
The race is the 12th in a series of annual fundraisers for Outward Bound Hong Kong to raise money to help underprivileged groups in the city take part in its outdoor education and adventure programmes.
With 118 teams registered for the race, so far over HK$800,000 has been raised. Donations are still coming in, and the final tally will be made on March 25.
The beneficiaries are yet to be decided, but in the past they have invited participants from suicide prevention hotline the Samaritans, Mother's Choice, Operation Breakthrough, as well as former drug addicts, former prison inmates and disabled people.
The route for the race changes each year and is kept secret until the day. This year, for the first time, the race began in the city, went up a gorge, climbed Hong Kong Island's highest mountain, crossed water around Middle Island to end at Stanley Plaza.
Racers find their way using maps and other orienteering gear, and face surprise challenges along the way that can boggle their minds.
"We're all very sporty, but are lacking the mental skills," joked Cvetkovic about her team Partially Wrecked placing third in the elite mixed category this year.
The four had trouble finishing the quiz at the beginning of the race. Answering the questions correctly would have won them a packet containing a map of their route, she said.
Trophies, medals and sporting gear were awarded to the champions and runners-up of the 11 categories.
The youngest member of the race was 15 years old, while the eldest was 60.