Urban life

Tribes of Hong Kong: Trailwalkers

Exploring the city’s subcultures, ANSHEL MA meets the people who climb and clamber over Hong Kong's peaks and hills

Organised by Oxfam Hong Kong since 1986, Oxfam Trailwalker is Hong Kong’s largest charity sports event. Each year, about 4,000 participants attempt to complete the 100-kilometre hiking course on the MacLehose Trail in the New Territories, with a time limit of 48 hours. You can walk it, run it, even take naps, but hikers have to stay in teams of four.

For many, completing the long race is an accomplishment in itself. Teresa Yim used to volunteer on the sidelines but decided to enter the walk this year for the first time. ‘I want to achieve something great before turning 30, so I decided to test my limits with this walk,’ she says. ‘I go hiking every week now as training, which is very different from waiting for trailwalkers at checkpoints, as I did in the past on the support team.’

Another former member of the support team, Charles Ip joined the walk last year and has since become an enthusiast. ‘When I crossed the finish line last year, I told myself I was never doing this again, but then I got back into the game with more intensive training in hope of a better result,’ he says. ‘It’s an addictive activity.’

Apart from challenging personal limits, the event also tests the bond among team members by stipulating that teams must pass the checkpoints and finish line together. ‘Last year, a teammate complained I was going too slow, then that I was going too fast,’ says Ip. ‘Although we finished the course in the end, we couldn’t really enjoy it. This is a team sport, so compatibility among teammates is very important. Everyone needs to help each other out.’

Kevin Cheung, a keen runner who travels the world for marathons, has raced in Trailwalker for the past nine years and has finished in first place multiple times. ‘I think it’s most important that team members are good friends; this is the way to avoid the awkwardness of blaming each other for varying speeds,’ he says. ‘Running is competitive but it’s also a great way to make friends. Most people who do Trailwalker strengthen their bonds with teammates.’ Oxfam Trailwalker is held on 17 to 19 November. 

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