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Oxfam launches world's greatest team challenge to tackle poverty

Prue Smith - 02/09/05

Oxfam launched New Zealand's first charity ultramarathon team event, the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge, on Monday, 29 August, 2005.

The event aims to attract participants from all walks of life and levels of fitness. The challenge is for teams of four to complete 100 kms within 36 hours and to collectively raise at least $1500 to support the world's poorest people. The inaugural event will take place in Taupo, on April 8-9, 2006.

"In the 36 hours available to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge, 43,200 children will have died needlessly because of poverty," said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. "That is the equivalent of every New Zealand child under three years of age suddenly dying from a preventable disease in a single weekend.

"This event provides the opportunity for New Zealanders to achieve a great personal challenge and share the experience with friends and work-mates whilst also helping others less fortunate than themselves."

Oxfam Trailwalker began as a military training exercise for the Nepali Gurkhas 25 years ago and is now Oxfam's top fundraising challenge in Australia, Britain and China. The event has so far raised more than $45 million for Oxfam's humanitarian, development and campaigning work.

A special guest team from the Queen's Gurkha Signals Regiment will be participating in the New Zealand event and will set the standard for the superfit. They have completed the British course in under 10 hours.

Most participants, however, will complete the course at a much steadier pace there's a reason why the event is called Trailwalker. People with all levels of ability take on the challenge of training and competing as well as fundraising. Oxfam Trailwalker has proved especially popular as a team-building opportunity within companies and community groups with many finding the event as the perfect focus for a fitness improvement programme. As one participant from the British event said: "When we crossed the finish line, we knew we had accomplished something quite extraordinary together."

Taupo is welcoming the event. Famous local boy and Olympic triathlon silver medallist, Bevan Docherty said: "Having grown up in Taupo, I have enjoyed many a good run through the beautiful scenery here. It is beautiful. Taupo forms the ideal setting for Oxfam Trailwalker and I encourage everyone to take part."

Destination Lake Taupo has helped plan the route which takes in an amazing variety of scenery including Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon, quiet lakeland bays, dramatic headlands and volcanic terrain. The trail will also pass through areas currently inaccessible to the public.

Runners on the Trailwalker course
Runners on the Trailwalker course
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

To take part in the event, people can reserve their team's place online at or by calling 0800 Oxfam NZ.

All funds raised help Oxfam New Zealand respond to humanitarian emergencies like the recent tsunami, deliver long-term development and effectively campaign for lasting improvements on human rights.


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