Can you can walk or run for 100km up and down hills within 48 hours? While also en­dur­ing scorch­ing sun, chill­ing nights and sleep de­pri­va­tion...

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OUTDOORS - By DR FOO YUEN CHENG Pho­tos by UU BAN LEONG and OXFAM HONG KONG

THE Oxfam Trail­walker event in Hong Kong is billed as one of the world’s tough­est char­ity team chal­lenges as it cov­ers a course of 100km over hilly ter­rain within a time limit of 48 hours.

But the event, held in Novem­ber, goes be­yond the phys­i­cal chal­lenge as par­tic­i­pants are also rais­ing money for Oxfam to help over­come poverty and in­jus­tice around the world.

My run­ning buddy, Lee Yeu Sheuan, had been try­ing to get into this event for the past two years with­out suc­cess. Four-man teams from around the world are cho­sen based on lot­tery se­lec­tion and the chance of be­ing one of the 1,200 par­tic­i­pat­ing teams is only about 25%. So when my ap­pli­ca­tion was picked, I was de­lighted!

I (a med­i­cal doc­tor) im­me­di­ately formed a team com­pris­ing my run­ning bud­dies: Lee (an engi­neer), Uu Ban Leong (a pho­tog­ra­pher with The Star) and Khor Siew Kiah (an IT spe­cial­ist). We de­cided to name our team Ooooi Faster Lah to re­flect our Malaysian iden­tity.

All of us had some trail run­ning ex­pe­ri­ence. As we lived in dif­fer­ent parts of Malaysia, we de­cided to train on our own on week­days. How­ever, we did meet on a few week­ends for train­ing in Gu­nung Nuang, in Hulu Lan­gat, Se­lan­gor. This moun­tain was cho­sen as its trail was quite sim­i­lar to the ter­rain we would en­counter in Hong Kong.

Af­ter a few months of train­ing, we felt that we were well-pre­pared to con­quer Hong Kong’s rig­or­ous Ma­cLe­hose trail, the venue for the Oxfam Trail­walker. It was a big event and this year there were 4,800 walk­ers from 1,200 teams par­tic­i­pat­ing along with 3,000 vol­un­teers, 4,000 sup­port team mem­bers and more than 45,000 donors.

We be­gan at Pak Tam Chung on a hot af­ter­noon but soon dis­cov­ered that we had to skip Check­point 1 due to a protest by about 100 res­i­dents of Sai Wan vil­lage (in east Sai Kung). They were claim­ing a pic­turesque part of the path was on pri­vate land, and they were against the gov­ern­ment’s plan to in­clude it in Hong Kong’s park sys­tem.

This forced Oxfam to hur­riedly change the route for the event. How­ever, the un­ex­pected di­ver­sion did not dampen our spir­its and we were still hap­pily chitchat­ting and snap­ping pic­tures of the panoramic views along the way.

It took us five hours to reach Check­point 2 (which was 24km from the start­ing point) and it was get­ting dark when we fi­nally ar­rived. The weather was also get­ting cooler and it made run­ning more com­fort­able.

We had to come in to­gether at each check­point – each mem­ber had an elec­tronic tag on his wrist

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