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Oxfam Trailwalker New Zealand 2007

Prue Smith -- 23/05/2007

Oxfam Trailwalker is considered by many as the world's greatest team challenge. Each team of four must start together on the 100km trek, must stick together and must finish together within 36 hours.

Prue Smith of Oxfam New Zealand sent NZine three emails about the progress of this race. I found them compelling reading, so I have put them together so that NZine readers can experience the excitement of the race.

You can also read in NZine about the first Trailwalker, the pre-enrolment article and the countdown to the 2007 race.

14 April
Team event kicks off. 1000 participants set to complete 100km around Taupo.

Donned in a colourful array of waterproof gear and glancing at the ominous rain clouds, 1000 Oxfam Trailwalker participants have set off from Taupo this morning with the task of walking 100kms off road within the next 36 hours.

Aerial of start of race at 6am
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

Together with their 1000 plus support crew members and 250 volunteers, an impressive 250 teams of four have descended on Taupo this weekend with the goal of completing the course to help some of the world's poorest people.

The course, equivalent to walking two and half marathons,- takes participants up, down and across some of New Zealand's most scenic terrain including Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon, and plenty of native bush with views across Lake Taupo.

Oxfam Trailwalker is touted as the world's greatest team challenge. Teams of four must start together, stick together while walking through the night, and finish together. They have trained and fundraised for many months.

Teams on average raise more than $4000 each, to help fight injustice and overcome poverty in the world and Oxfam hopes to raise $1 million this year.

The fastest four will be looking to cross the line before nightfall tonight and avoiding the predicted low of 4C overnight will no doubt be spurring them on.

Teams range from social and corporate, to highly competitive. Last year's winners, the 'Sunhing Cosmo Boys' from Hong Kong, ran every step of the way crossing the line in 11hr 48min. The first New Zealand team home last year, representing the NZ Army, clocked in at 13hrs, 42mins.

This year's title for first home is looking like a contest between team 'Tenon 1' and a team of fire fighters 'After Midnight' from Auckland. Hamilton mixed team '4 Coasters' is also looking strong with all four competitors primed from racing in last month's Coast to Coast endurance race.

One in every twenty participants is travelling in from overseas, including 43 from Australia and one each from Albania, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.

Victory to Vets in Oxfam Trailwalker - April 14

The Valley Vets have triumphed in cold conditions to take out the New Zealand's Oxfam Trailwalker 2007 title, covering 100km in an impressive 13hr,19min in Taupo tonight (Saturday, April 14)


Winning team - Australians ' Valley Vets'
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

The team of four -Australians - Rob Wendel, Didier Martin, Gary Hammett, Robin Broberg - were the first home out of 250 teams who set off early this morning. Veterans of four Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker events, the Valley Vets put in a truly impressive effort, enduring cold southwesterlies and short bouts of rain, and still managing to run the trail altogether -a distance equivalent to two and half marathons.

"It was a fantastic race," the runners said straight after. "It's incredible to win, we've done it before and placed well, but to win is phenomenal, especially on such a hilly course."

With a combined age of 207, the veterans gave away their secret to success: "It's our last Trailwalker, so we had to win!" laughed team leader Rob Wendel.

In second place came another well-practised Aussie team. Fresh from competing in Sydney and Hong Kong, the mixed team Gators crossed the line in a time of 13hrs, 55 mins.

Winning mixed team-Australians 'Gators'
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

"It was a great way to see New Zealand," said Hong Kong-based Jo Eades. "I wish I'd taken my camera, although I'm sure the boys wouldn't have let me stop to take any pictures!"

Not to be completely outdone by the Aussies, Kiwi firefighters Team TISS finished closely behind. In a time of 14hr, 9min, they were delighted to slash two and a half hours of their 2006 time.

Meanwhile, almost 1000 other participants, together with 1000 support crew members and 250 volunteers, remain dotted along the course. Event organisers expect the bulk of the teams to be streaming in through the early hours of Sunday.

"With only a third of the event complete, this year the level of commitment has already proved to be remarkable," said Barry Coates, Oxfam New Zealand's Executive Director. "The teams who have already crossed the line have put in a phenomenal effort, and there are so many incredible teams to come who have trained and fundraised for many months."

For some it's a race, for others it's a personal challenge to complete the course as well as fundraise for Oxfam's work to overcome poverty and injustice. At last year's inaugural Oxfam Trailwalker teams raised an average of $4000 each. This year Oxfam hopes to raise $1 million for its international humanitarian, development and campaigning work.

Oxfam Trailwalker is considered by many as the world's greatest team challenge. Each team of four must start together, stick together and finish together within 36 hours, tackling the 100km trek which includes Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon, tracts of native bush as well as 1200m of elevation.

15 April
192 of the original 250 teams that set out in the early hours of Saturday morning 14 April triumphantly crossed challenging terrain -all in a good cause -to help Oxfam overcome poverty and injustice.

Well within the 36-hour cut-off, Team AUT C@S Away took last-line honours in 34 hrs 10mins, having battled bitter autumn elements in the 100km team challenge

Team leader of the AUT team said: "Three of us are lecturers from the School of Nursing at Auckland University of Technology (AUT University). We took on this challenge not only because it is a superb cause, but also with the aim of increasing our health and fitness. With ages ranging from the 40-60's this has been a challenge in itself!"

The southwesterlies blew and the rain fell, but the grisly weather failed to break the resolve of 1000 participants who strode the off-road course day and night past Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon, through native bush and up and down 1200 metres of hilly terrain.

On the trail
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

"I'm overwhelmed by the incredible level of support given to Oxfam this weekend - not only by the participants, but from hundreds of supporters and volunteers from around the country -and from the people of Taupo, most especially the 70 landowners who allow the event to cross over their land," said Oxfam's Executive Director Barry Coates.

The start gun sounded at 6am and again at 8am yesterday (Saturday April 14), and winning team, the Valley Vets of Melbourne, streaked ahead, running the equivalent of two and half marathons in 13 hrs,19 mins, but were unable to match last year's winning time of 11hrs 48mins.

The first mixed team across the line, Team Gators, in 13hrs 40mins came in second overall and comfortably beat the mixed record for last year of 14hr 21min.

The winning women's team, Girl's Night Out, were charging, coming in just after midnight in a time of 16hrs, 7 mins, slashing last year's time of 19.28.

Tending to the blisters
Photo credit: Ron Burgin
Click here to view a larger version

Once the blisters have dried up, teams still face the challenge of fundraising as much as they can up until June 15 to help some of the world's poorest people.

Fund raising
Last year, teams on average raised more than $4000 each. This year, Oxfam New Zealand hopes to raise at least $1 million in total - and indications are that this will be achievable with the top fundraising team, Feet of Endurance having raised more than $18,000 so far.

Oxfam Trailwalker originally began as a military training exercise for the Nepali Ghurkhas 25 years ago and is now Oxfam's top fundraising challenge in Australia, Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand.

The event is in its second year in New Zealand. Internationally, Trailwalker has so far raised more than $50 million for Oxfam's humanitarian, development and campaigning work.

Some interesting statistics

  • One in every twenty participants travelled in from overseas, including 43 from Australia and one each from Albania, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.
  • Among participants there were 14 account managers; 16 accountants; 19 sales people; 26 nurses; 3 midwives; 29 managers; 20 lawyers; 3 policemen; 8 firefighters; 1 ambulance person; 3 journalists; 11 IT specialists; 53 students; 20 teachers; 2 DOC workers, a zoo keeper, a radio DJ and many more.
  • There were 39 all male teams, 69 all female teams and 151 mixed teams participating. The average age of all participants was 37 years with the oldest registered participant aged 71.
  • .

Editor's comment
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