Oxfam trailwalker 2006, November 10-12, follows the MacLehose Trail in the New Territories It's a long, gruelling trail stretching 100km across Hong Kong's New Territories, yet the Oxfam Trailwalker continues to have more hopeful entrants than places. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend - it started in 1981 as a training exercise for Gurkha troops stationed in the then British colony - the event will be contested by 1,040 teams of four, while about 1,500 teams missed out. Organisers hope to raise at least HK$20 million this year. Event chairman and five-time competitor Bernard Charnwut Chan said the race has encouraged more Hongkongers to embrace the city's country parks. 'I remember in 1993 I was invited by an expatriate friend of mine and I didn't even know we had so many country parks. It was the first time I had even been exposed to Sai Kung. 'It started off as pretty much an expatriate event but now there are probably more local Chinese taking part than expatriates.' The Oxfam Trailwalker has also gone international, with races held in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Japan and one in New Zealand next year. Star Hong Kong team Sung Hing Cosmo Boy took out the race in both Australian cities this year. Mr Chan admitted there was criticism among race devotees of the government's determination to cover much of the trail in concrete. When a team of former Gurkhas made a record time of 11 hours and 57 minutes in 2004, they complained they had not been pushed. The previous record before the concrete campaign was 15 hours and 25 minutes, also by Gurkhas. 'Many of the walkers have complained about it because they want a challenge and the serious ones probably don't like it so much,' Mr Chan said. 'There are more steps than ever and they may have overdone it but it is not only for trail walkers, it's for all members of the public. The condition it used to be in meant the event was only for serious competitors.' Organisers have a contingency plan in place if a natural disaster such as a typhoon, heavy rainstorm or serious fire threatens competitors' safety. The competitors will start in four staggered groups on Friday - at 9am, 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm - and must finish within 48 hours.