Trail tradition

Rebecca Tsui
Rebecca Tsui |

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Tin Ka Ping Secondary School students celebrate success at the end of the Trailwalker last year. The annual gruelling hike has become a school tradition after its first batch of Form Seven students completed it in 1999. This year, two teams of four will compete and aim to finish in 36 hours. Photo: Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

One school competes every year in an outdoor event so challenging that many experienced hikers drop out before the finish line, writes Rebecca Tsui

Students from Tin Ka Ping Secondary School are ready to take on Hong Kong's most challenging outdoor event - in what has become a school tradition.

Trailwalker has its origins in a training exercise for the Gurkha troops stationed in Hong Kong, and in 1986, international charity organisation Oxfam began sponsoring the event as a fund-raising competition.

Participants have to hike 100 kilometres within 48 hours. It is both physically and mentally challenging and demanding. Many participants withdraw or cannot finish within the time limit because of injuries or blistered feet.

But Tin Ka Ping Secondary School students have been taking part in Trailwalker since 1999. According to hiking coach Cheung Kam-hung, the event has a special significance for the school.

'Our school is comparatively new. In 1999, we had our first Form Seven students, and the students commemorated this historical moment by taking part in the Trailwalker,' Cheung said.

Their success made them heroes in the eyes of the lower form students, and from that first year it became a school tradition for Form Seven students.

This year, two teams of four students from the school will join the Trailwalker at the end of the month. The rest of the Form Seven students, along with alumni, will form a support team.

All eight students are from the same science class.

Terry Cheung Chi-lung, one of the team captains, said: 'For the past six years, we have been seeing our senior schoolmates receive Trailwalker certificates. I'm so proud of them and want to join them.'

Terry, who has several years' hiking experience, says he hopes his team can finish the trail within 36 hours. 'Our major target is that all eight of us can finish together,' says the 20-year-old.

The students started training during the summer holidays under the guidance of Cheung and alumni who have completed the Trailwalker in previous years. They are confident they can complete the trail.

Mak Wai-leung, 18, also a team captain, said: 'Our team is new to hiking, and we have two girls. I was a bit worried in the beginning, but now we all believe we can succeed.'

Cheung says he does not think the trail is any more challenging for girls than for boys.

'Girls might not be physically as strong as boys. But they weigh less and their steps are light,' he explains.

The Trailwalker will be held on November 20 from Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung, finishing at the Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp in Yuen Long.