Lessons Learnt from my Trailwalker Experience

What is Trailwalker

Trailwalker or Oxfam Trailwalker is a fundraising endurance events conducted across the world by Oxfam, an international confederation of 20 NGOs working with partners in over 90 countries to end the injustices that cause poverty.

In Hong Kong Trailwalker, teams of four competitors must complete a course of 10 sections, 100 kilometres long country parks trails with rugged peaks, remote valleys and ocean coastlines, on the MacLehose Trail within a 48-hour time limit. The main objective of this trailwalker is to support Oxfam’s various poverty alleviation and emergency relief projects in Africa and Asia, including Hong Kong and mainland China.

In 2001, I am fortunate to participate in the Hong Kong Trailwalker as support team with 2PDF. This memorable has taught me many lessons in running and handling challenges in life:


What the Trail walker experience has taught me

Everything is Possible (Yes REALLY!)

The trailwalker experience is indeed a memorable one for me. Being on a 100km undulating course across the mountain ranges, it is definitely one that will take a lot effort to complete. Seldom I can get the chance to do such distance. At first I thought that doing a 100km is impossible, however after seeing how people has done and completed it, it really inspired me.

From this experience, I always tell myself that what seems impossible in my mind could be something really possible to be done.


Appreciate the things around you

The trailwalker experience has also brought me closer to nature and to really appreciate the beauty of it. I get to see another part of Hong Kong rather than just the city and shopping malls.

Living in Singapore, the tallest hill here has always been Bukit Timah Hill and there is really not too much nature to see in Singapore. I can still vividly remember when I first go on this trail at the hilltop overlooking the sea and the beach, it is such an exhilarating experience seeing the vastness and the beauty of nature. I can never imagine myself being able to run into the “clouds” covers in Tai Mo Shan. This is one of the first time that I start to feel and appreciate my running route and notice the scenic environment around me.


Take one step at a time

Being my first trail walker experience, it is definitely a challenge for me to clear all the mountain stages. This is because most of my running are done on relatively flat grounds. In climbing the numerous steps of the slopes I experienced leg cramps. I thought I could never finish at the top of the hill.

Slowly I start to understand truly the meaning of taking one step at a time. So I take one step at a time on the slope, knowing I will definitely reach the top if I do that.

With lots of patience, I completed the climb and soon enjoy the beautiful view of it at the top. Take things one step at a time!


Things that are tough to accomplish are the most fulfilling

The course also has some very challenging slopes. I like especially the experience of ascending into the steep slopes of the Needle Hill. It is probably one of the most physically challenging ascend I have experienced; however once achieved it proves to be very fulfilling. Things that are tough to accomplish are the most fulfilling when you do it.


Respect Nature

Another unforgettable experience on this trail is experiencing the “warth” of nature.

Once there was a sudden rain while I am running. The path that I am running quickly become wet and slippery. Then I came across a slope that has quickly become a fast flowing stream. Me and my team mates got to hold on to each other just to carefully cross the stream. Any wrong footing will result with us being swept away by the water and down a steep slope.

Another instance, I was running at the one of the mountain tops while it was raining heavily. As I was higher up in the mountain, I have no idea that it was raining so heavily until I started to descend and got caught into the heavy rain. From these experiences, I start to respect the forces of nature and take note of the perils of trail running.


Its ok to get off track, just make sure you get ontrack again

On the trail, there are signpost at about every 500m distance to let you know that you are on the right track. Once I missed one of the signposts and went off track. I felt something is amiss when I was chased by a monkey. Slowly the number of monkey chasing me started to grow in numbers. That’s when I know I have to turn back. What I learn is to back track whenever I am lost, go back to the last known point. This is exactly what I have done and it got me back to the right track. I find this quite relatable to life. If I am off track in my life, just go back to where I left off and get back on the right track again.


Team work

The most important thing that I learned is the importance of team work. In order to complete the distance within the timing, there must be support team and team mates that will provide essential food and water to the runners. They can also give many positive encouragement and mutual support to the runners to complete the race. The race is not won alone, but together as a team.


Maintaining a fitness routine when you are travelling is no easy feat. These are some of the things I do to keep myself on track and fit when I am travelling (Check out the 2nd tip if you are on long flight).

If you are interested to to find out more about the Oxfam Trailwalker or to join it, go to: http://www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.hk/

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